A while ago I went for an interview at social commerce innovators mydeco, who I really admire. I don’t recall who interviewed me at mydeco I do recall the useful feedback, which was that I listened too much in my interview. Funnily enough at a Shopping.com offsite in late 2010 in sunny Marbella I highlighted “listening” as a key strength during a cross-company workshop.
At a more recent meeting with a social media guru he asked me hypothetically what I would say to a tea retailer client, armed with market research data which showed their customers drank a lot of tea at midnight. He believed the right answer was to advice the client that they need to produce a low-caffeine tea to meet the late night tea behaviour need.
My answer (OK, polished up a tad in hindsight) would be to make the strategic assumption that the tea customers knew they were drinking normal caffeinated tea at midnight; and start a discussion with the customers on that basis, before talking to the client as to how to develop their offering. How does that sound?
The value of listening in building a community isn’t just in terms of you as a CMO listening to what your customers say; it’s also the same mechanism which drives the value of a community in the interactions between members. Take the example of Stocktwits which I blogged about in 2008, and which I heard recently has also invested in UK-based City Index – currently loooking to recruit a social media planner. To quote Roger Ehrenberg, founder and Managing Partner of IA Ventures from that time:
“Stocktwits massively leverages the power of the long tail, but the reason followers are able to rapidly identify value is because of reputation.
“THE STOCKTWITS COMMUNITY IS A MERITOCRACY. Those that hem and haw and say little don’t get followed. Those who are insightful, sharp and decisive command large readership. And this is the way it should be.
“We’ve only just seen the tip of the iceberg of what the Stocktwits community can and will become. But the power of the platform is clear.”