Corporate Eye

Listening and Discussing – The Social Media Success Imperatives

listenOne of the most important aspects of any social media marketing strategy is research, which comes not just in the form of segmenting audiences and analyzing statistics but also in the form of listening to the conversations going on across the social Web.  For a company’s social media marketing plan to be successful, listening and joining discussions are the two most basic imperatives.

IBM understands that listening is the cornerstone of social media marketing.  In fact, IBM has a social media program called Listening for Leads that utilizes what the company calls seekers (who work on a voluntary basis) to listen to social media conversations happening on key Web sites where the company’s target audiences spend time.  When seekers identify conversations that could generate leads, they notify appropriate IBM representatives who join and follow up on those discussions.

According to an interview with Ed Linde of IBM, which was conducted by eMarketer last month, the IBM Listening for Leads program has been the company’s most successful social media marketing initiative citing millions of dollars in sales leads and a tremendous amount of closed deals.  Linde attributes IBM’s success from its Listening for Leads program to two primary factors:

  1. Using enough employees as seekers who each voluntarily spend a couple of hours per week listening to social media conversations (in addition to performing their regular IBM job functions) to uncover a good amount of credible leads.
  2. Knowing where to look for conversations (i.e., where target audiences spend time on the social Web) and what keywords to search for in order to find relevant, actionable discussions.

Thanks to the social Web, companies have the ability to legally and ethically eavesdrop on real-time conversations, join those conversations, and offer suggestions, help and solutions right when people are looking for information or assistance.  It’s an amazing opportunity!

Are you using your existing employees to help you keep up with social Web conversations that could lead to new business?  IBM’s Listening for Leads program is a perfect example of a company that understands the importance of social Web conversations and used out-of-the-box thinking to keep up with and respond to those conversations thereby turning them into tangible business results.

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.