Listening is an action that we all do, everyday, constantly. This is of course with the exception of those who are deaf, and then there is a real challenge in learning to interpret what people are saying. I feel like I could fairly confidently say that I have been generally deaf to social media for the past several years. I did have, but not operate, a twitter account prior to this class. I have a Facebook account, but only get on every few weeks, and mostly just to check messages, not carouse through the newest topic of debate or see the newest meme.
The realization that I have made in other areas of my life will have to hold true in the world of social media if I wish to yield it as a tool in my professional life. And that lesson is that listening is essential if you intend to do something well. This is true in relationships with a spouse, it is true in responding to the needs of clients, it is true in an organization that wishes sell a product or rally people behind a cause. As we learn in elementary school, we have 2 ears and one mouth for a reason! And ever since we were kids, we have had to continuously learn this lesson in different aspects of our lives.
But what does it mean to listen within social media? What aspect does listening take on from an organizational standpoint? Kivi Miller from nonprofitmarketingguide.com offers some very useful tactics in how, and more importantly why, a non-profit would be interested in learning how to listen. She mentions 17 things to do with what you hear; however I believe her blog post could be better titled “What are the benefits of listening” as she uses the term “Return on Investment” (ROI). The term is primarily used in the context of justifying how important something is worth doing for its later return value for the person or organization doing the investing. With this language we begin to see that the premise is that listening at an organizational level is not only good, but can increase revenue, broaden a support base, or even garner the type of political action that you are interested in.
Kivi lays out several good benefits of listening, but one that is primarily useful for me currently is using it to “Learn the Lingo.” Getting started as a trainee for the Georgia LEND program, I am learning a lot about the system of care that responds to children and families with developmental disabilities. This involves state and federal legislation, service organizations, public programs, non-profits, university services, and the list goes on and on. Understanding the complexity of a system such as this can be hard enough as it is, without trying to keep track of all of the acronyms that the community uses to describe each agency or program. I have personally benefited from following many of these organizations on twitter, following URLs back to websites, and hence “learning the lingo.” In addition to learning, I intend to be able to use this information to engage with this community through social media.
This is one way that I have found listening to change how I am able to interact with the disability community through social media. What is a way that listening has changed your use of social media?