Social Listening: Getting to know customers or cyberstalking?

To define social listening, it is the process of monitoring digital media channels to devise a strategy that will better influence consumers. However, there is a fine line between monitoring users of these digital channels and full on stalking users.

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Social listening or social monitoring as it is also known has proven to be a necessary component for survival in the tech orientated business world nowadays. Social listening captures information that would otherwise be missed. Social media has resulted in a large influx of information appearing online everyday and without social listening it is becoming impossible for companies to manually sieve through all this clutter. By monitoring the information through social listening threats can be more easily detected which helps protect businesses and users!

Companies need to be aware of the massive grey area surrounding social media and social listening. Many of the information that is being monitored is on social media where it might not necessarily be intended for public viewing. The focus of monitoring needs to be clearly held on public information to avoid this massive legal grey area and to allow companies act on threats in confidence.

An often over looked benefit of social monitoring is that companies can discover positive testimonials and use them as social proof. If used correctly and ethically, the benefits to a company’s image could be massive! Customers will nearly always look to what the crowd is doing and by using social monitoring to sing their own praises, a company could gain massively in terms increases in social traffic and word of mouth.

Now, however, here comes the big problem associated with social monitoring…. Privacy! The grey area I mentioned above could potentially cause many problems for a company if they used social listening wrong. Companies are basically noting down everything of interest to them and this can be seen as an invasion of privacy.

Personally, I feel that once no ones privacy rights or human rights are being effected through social listening and all information noted and stored is public and free for company use, social listening isn’t cyber stalking. We live in a world that is becoming every more open and we as consumers are pushing that openness more and more. If we don’t feel comfortable with the information we share then there is a simple way of fixing it… don’t share it!!