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Executive Report - By Thomas Baekdal - October 2010

How to Listen to Social Channels

You should always listen, but how you act is not defined by what people say. It's defined by what people feel, and the true purpose of your brand.

We all hear about the many social backlashes like the ones about Nestle (deforestation), Toyota (stuck gas pedals), Domino's Pizza (unsanitary behavior), Gap (bad logo), Loft (use of models), BP (oil rig disaster), United Airlines (broken guitar), Ann Taylor (photoshop retouching), Amazon (deleting books people have paid for), Netflix (hiring actors to pretend being excited customers) etc.

The question that always follows is: Is it good for brands to really listen to what people say? Isn't it better just to plow ahead, instead of appearing weak and undeceive?

The answer isn't that simple. You should always listen, but not that what people say. You listen to what people feel.

Why should people follow you?

Before we can even start to discuss why or how you should listen, it's important to know what it means to be a brand.

As a brand you can be one of two things. You can either be a brand that finds ways to fulfill people's needs-as in creating something they want, or invent new "needs." That, or your brand can be about making it happen: You are providing the framework, the infrastructure, the tools, or the connections.

Nike is a company that finds ways to fulfill your needs, while Rackspace makes it happen. Ford innovates how we drive, while Amazon finds ways to give you stories.

You cannot be a brand that doesn't know what it want, or where it should go. It's your job as a brand to define the path. It's your job to find the solution, and to make it happen.

You never want to put yourself in a position where you have to ask your customers for direction. That's your job. People follow your brand because you provide the answer. If you don't have the answer to their problems, then why should people follow you?

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Baekdal is a magazine for media professionals, focusing on media analysis, trends, patterns, strategy, journalistic focus, and newsroom optimization. Since 2010, it has helped publishers in more than 40 countries, including big and small publishers like Condé Nast, Bonnier, Schibsted, NRC, and others, as well as companies like Google and Microsoft.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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