Malleable Musings

February 4, 2009

Listening

Filed under: BTP, Conversations, International Student Recruitment, Social Media, Tools — Brendan @ 12:30 am

Over ten years ago, I remember being surprised when a friend of mine who worked on advertising strategy for one of the fancy London agencies told me that rational argument isn’t that important in advertising, what’s important is pushing an emotional connection. I was reminded of this thought again at the weekend courtesy of @TobyKeeping.

What Toby’s excellent post on what defines a recruitment relationship got me thinking about was the importance of listening.

Why? Well, in order to gain that emotion connection, I need to be able to listen and understand what’s being said or communicated.

  • I need to listen to know what language I should use so that potential students can easily comprehend.
  • I need to know what, if anything, is likely to excite and enthuse or repel the different segments of potential students I’m working to attract.
  • I need to be able to respond to potential students in a timely fashion, especially in a Web 2.0 world.
  • I need to listen to know what’s being said about my brand and intervene when necessary.
  • I also need to listen in order to help provide the guidance and advice that’s needed once a prospects is ready to enter that recruitment relationship.

The listening process has definitely changed over the past few years, especially for prospects. In the past I would have run surveys and held in-depth conversations, often in a face-to-face environment. Whereas today and in the future much of the listening is (will be) carried out using tools like the Social Media Firehose, through specialist Search Engines like Who’s Talkin’, Social Mention via Alerts and RSS feeds, by following people on Social Networks and utilizing existing spaces where comment and feedback happens anyway.

The tools mean that it’s easier to listen at a superficial level, but the understanding or knowledge that comes from the listening process seems to have changed.

What’s more the amount of chatter that is suddenly opened up to us by using these tools is staggering and knowing where to begin is difficult.  At the moment I’m grappling with how I monitor what’s being said and how I aggregate this, report on it and make it all actionable, which leads to questions like:

  • Who should handle a comment about X
  • Is it important that comment Y is floating about on website Z
  • How are leads qualified, assigned and followed up
  • How will any interaction be viewed by the prospect (their influencers)?

In thinking about these questions I believe that this recent Harvard Business Review Article hits the nail on the head. The listening and communicating needs to be done at the front line. Essentially what’s needed is the killer mindset rather than the killer technology.

So what does this mean for me, well I’ve got to get to grips with the tools and do what I can to change things so that the “I” becomes “we”.  What’s more in the university sector the “we” is an expanded “we” – it’s not just staff that need to be involved.

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1 Comment »

  1. Brendan, thanks for the feedback! You’ve added some great points yourself!

    Comment by tobykeeping — February 4, 2009 @ 12:38 am


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