What Came First: The Vanity or The Dissent?

A man listens through a can connected to a wire

A man listens through a can connected to a wire

Somehow, despite the numerous platforms that facilitate unprecedented communication between brands and their audiences, a glaring disconnect has emerged that finds its roots in one simple, singular practice: listening. Or, more correctly: the failure to listen.

Facebook and Twitter accounts are being created for brands as tools for self-promotion, rather than as a means for conversation. Countless companies and institutions are getting caught in the social media wave, without even taking a moment to really see the importance of these tools.

A recent IBM conducted study found that the top two reasons why consumers virtually interact with brands are to receive discounts (61%) and to make purchases (55%). However, brands think differently. The same study showed that businesses believe consumers engage with their brands to learn about new products (73%) and to receive general information about their brands (71%). Talk about a communication breakdown.

Why wouldn’t a company want to improve its business by listening to its consumers? Is it fear, vanity or lack of understanding of the social media tools? Has the technology progressed too quickly for branders to keep up?

There simply isn’t any valid excuse for why brands can’t be listening to their consumers. The “social media revolution,” as it’s called today, has opened a door of opportunity for businesses to personally interact with customers and clients to engage in real conversation. To gain insight into their likes and dislikes.  To get feedback on new products.  To identify flaws in the customer service experience. And the list goes on.

The gap between brands’ understanding and customers’ voices should be—and can be— eliminated by the use of social media. Social media deserves to be appreciated and activated more as a roundtable, less of a pulpit. Unfortunately, those who fail to understand the distinction are celebrating their ineptitude, rather than sewing the seeds of their enlightenment.

Photo Credit: Melvin Gaal

Makenzie Davies is a Social Media Marketer at Otherwise Incorporated.