Our Thinking

Social Choice: Ignore, Listen, Join, or Host

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Think back to when you last bought a book – did you check the reviews on Amazon? When you last booked a hotel – did you check the hotel rankings?  There is an incredible conversation happening on the social web, and for the first time in history, there is transparency: these conversations are available.  The benefits are obvious – but how should you react to this new openness, either as a consumer – or as an organization?

Here are four strategies:

  1. Ignore the conversation: For some organizations it is an explicit decision not to listen.  For others it is more ignorance of the conversation: they don’t even know that it is possible to listen in to what the market is saying.
  2. Listen and lurk: A brand can be defined by what people say about it – and organizations who listen to the social web are better able to estimate their brand strength, understand their market, and get an early warning when things begin to go wrong.
  3. Join the party: One step up from lurking, organizations in this tier are actively engaging with their stakeholders. They triage complaints, answer questions – and ask them. They are the face of the organization in the public social web.
  4. Be the host: At this level, the organization controls its own social destiny by providing the venue, setting the ground rules, and moderating the conversation. Hosting the conversation can happen in a public venue (a Facebook fan page, a LinkedIn group), or within a privately hosted (and sometimes invite-only) section of the organization’s website.

This week’s action plan: Whichever strategy you choose (Ignore, Listen, Join or Host) it need not be exclusive. You may ignore one, join another, and host a third. The key is to be both intentional and strategic. This week, play the what-if game: What would be the impact if you moved up the hierarchy?  (Try it and see.)

This post has been written by 108’s Senior Advisor and former CEO Randall Craig.