Open Your Ears Before You Open Your Mouth

October 22, 2009

listen2Yesterday I posted about how businesses tend to delegate social media tasks to their youngest workers and that how young people use social media in their personal lives may not translate to  — or may even clash with — how to use it successfully in the business world.

I added that solid writing is the foundation of solid social media marketing, again, a skill students may not develop, or not develop appropriately, through day-to-day social media use.

Listening is also important, added a peer of mine who’s researching the future of social media.

“From what I have gathered from my research and informational interviews, the mistake made often by companies attempting to utilize social media for the first time is their lackadaisical approach,” he commented. “Social media management includes listening to the groundswell, responding, and being willing to make changes per the feedback received.”

As part of our Interactive Writing and Design coursework, three of my classmates and I are developing a microsite to promote a local jam band’s forthcoming album. The band has used MySpace and Facebook with some success, but is unfamiliar with Twitter.

Immediately, my teammates and I had some ideas about how the band could use social media to achieve its goal of playing in a popular Mid-Atlantic campout music festival. Why not get its active base — it drew several hundred people to a self-hosted festival on a friend’s farm — to talk up the band in places and in ways other fans and festival bookers would notice?

We’re anxious to get to work — the band’s needs seem to jibe remarkably well with what we’ve been learning in our grad program — but know first, we must listen.

Part of our homework is doing literally that — listening to band’s music. Half our group is checking out the band’s tunes, Web site, social media pages, digital press kit and anywhere else the band’s mentioned online. The other half is visiting festival Web sites and the sites of bands who’ve played in those festivals.

We’ll absorb our respective areas as much as we can, then compare notes, looking for overlap between the band’s existing identity and what’s valued in the external spaces.

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