SXSW 2012: The Importance of Listening

There’s been one theme that has come up in every conversation here at SXSW: LISTEN. But the context of this worthy advice has varied widely.

For budding entrepreneurs, it is vital to listen and acknowledge the users’ needs. We happen to be in Austin with one of our clients, Brian Cohen, the Chairman of the New York Angels, who also holds the distinction of being the first investor in Pinterest. As he explains in this Mashable article, the site’s success was rooted in their commitment to listening to smart people throughout the development process. Had the founders of Pinterest missed a simple observation in their early users’ behavior, the site likely wouldn’t be the phenomenon we’re seeing today – getting nearly 12MM unique monthly visitors with the average user spending 89 minutes on the site.

For brands, there is, of course, a lot of discussion about the need to listen to what consumers are saying about your brand online. This was illustrated very poignantly by a case study that was presented during a panel titled, “The Sports Fan in 2015.” The panelists talked about Nike Basketball’s “Black Mamba” campaign: a microsite was built around an alternate persona of Kobe Bryant – each time 1750 tweets per hour used the hashtag, #MambaMoment or talked about Kobe, the site would dynamically change and unlock access to exclusive content for a six hour stretch. This inherent ability to respond to users’ interests in real-time is a perfect illustration of what listening is all about. It gives brands the opportunity to become even more relevant to a topic that is of high interest at any given time.

In fact, there are dozens of vendors (both new and established) hawking social media listening, monitoring or management tools here in Austin. We hope to spend time with them and see which are best suited to help our clients listen to what the online community is saying about their brands. The practice of listening will ultimately make your brand’s engagement with fans more authentic and impactful, which will, in turn, result in greater brand loyalty.

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