Learning How to Listen

Last month I had the pleasure of co-presenting with one of our long standing clients, Meredith Corporation, at the ARF Re:Think 2009 Annual Convention. Britta Ware, Vice President Research Solutions at Meredith joined me onstage to present some brand new research conducted in their ‘Real Women Talking’ Community. You can read the executive summary of the research here.

Britta and I summed up the major points of the research paper indentifying the ‘rules for listening’ that are so important, especially now.  I thought I would provide a transcript of how we summed it all up:

MANILA
“These points are explained in detail in the paper.  And taken together they do kind of summarize some key lessons Meredith learned from their experience.  So real quick, Britta, let’s take a stab at explaining some of these- I will name the rules and you provide a quick explanation based on you experience:”

MANILA
“Target your listening effort”
BRITTA
“Be thoughtful about the recruit and refreshes to keep the community relevant and vibrant”

MANILA
“Meet consumers ‘where they’re at’ ”
BRITTA
“There’s got to be some kind of pull or center of gravity for members—they’re people not ‘respondents’ or even ‘participants'”

MANILA
“Generate conversation with broad and specific appeal”
BRITTA
“This is for members and for the company—members like lots of different stuff to do; and the content is more relevant if it links directly to specific assets”

MANILA
“Focus on relationship and empowerment”
BRITTA
“Members will go to Herculean lengths for you when they’re really engaged; when you show people you’re listening (by closing the loop with them and responding to their feedback) you strengthen and deepen that relationship with your customer/reader/consumer.”

MANILA
“Create a listening system”
BRITTA
“Someone’s got to “own” the community, and you need a process—or system—for disseminating results to key stakeholders, as well.  You have to help others listen.”

MANILA
“Integrate to create efficiencies”
BRITTA
“Using social media to listen should not replace panel research or industry studies; the community can enhance these efforts, though, if you’re smart about coordinating them”

MANILA
“Be open to creativity and discovery”
BRITTA
“It’s an adventure and a process—there’s a lot waiting to be discovered, but it is new for a lot of people; you need to help people along and get them excited about the possibilities”