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The Art of Social Listening and it’s Impact on Engagement

Listen up.

 That should be the message sounding across boardrooms where communications committees gather to discuss social media marketing.

By now, most marketers have grasped that Twitter is not a fad nor a timewaster, but an essential component in managing your company’s brand identity. As companies are quickly discovering, a crucial component of social media marketing involves tuning in to what’s being said about your business online.

It’s called social listening, and if you’re not familiar with the term, then listen up.

Whether you’re an entertainer, a journalist, a small business owner or a CEO at a large company, it’s important that you do a little bit of digital eavesdropping in order to manage your online brand presence.

Social Listening can be defined as maintaining a consciousness of what’s being said about your brand online. Remember that conversations about brands and businesses are already taking place in the online world, and social listening simply allows you to keep you ear pressed to the digital door.

This weekend, Morton’s Steakhouse made headlines in Time Magazine for using the microblogging service Twitter to listen to (and respond to) long-time customer and entrepreneur Peter Shankman.

On August 17th, Shankman sent a wishful tweet out to the Twitterverse before boarding a flight home to Newark:

As Times columnist Nick Carbone explains, Shankman’s tweet was part wishful, part playful, and slightly sarcastic. He boarded the flight and thought nothing more of his tweet. Meanwhile, Morton’s was listening. When they read Shankman’s tweet, they sprung into action, eager to go out of their way for a long-time and valued customer.

Upon landing in Newark, Shankman was shocked when he was greeted by a decked-out Morton’s waiter bearing the coveted steak. “I. Was. Floored.” Shankman wrote on his blog later. He also tweeted this picture to more than 100,000 Twitter followers.

In addition to “wowing” a long-time, valued customer, Morton’s got people talking.  Nick Carbone of Times Magazine wasn’t the only one to write about the incident: the Morton’s stunt also made headlines in The Huffington Post, PC Magazine, MediaBistro, and more.

The gesture underscores the point that even if you decide to ignore social media, social media will not ignore you. Brands and businesses are already being talked about, regardless if they’ve joined the conversation or not.  Because Morton’s was tuned in to what was being said about their brand across the Twitterverse, they were able to jump at the opportunity for free publicity and exceptional customer service.

Now that’s social media marketing served well done.