Can you hear them?
These conversations aren’t happening behind your back. Instead, they’re occurring publicly, transmitted through the use of blogs (text), podcasts (audio) and online video. Within minutes of posting, their content is diced, sliced, indexed and made available to anyone around the world.
Are you listening?
Fans come in all forms. They can love and hate. For example I’m a fan of the New England Patriots, yet I hate the New York Jets. And the more successful the Jets are, the more I hate them…and the more I talk about them…and the more interested I am in what they are doing. Putting this observation into writing has brought me to the horrifying realization that I’m a Jets fan. An anti-fan, yet a fan nonetheless.
Fans identify with you, your message and what your organization stands for. Because fans are so emotionally involved, if you disappoint, they’ll turn on you with brutal honesty. Just remember: only your friends (fans?) will tell you that you have bad breath.
So, are you paying attention?
Are you tapping into these fanversations through free tools like search.twitter.com, Google Alerts, Google Blog Search, Technorati or Google News, all which notify you whenever a fan talks about your company, brand, products or services? And rather than cramming these important results into your overcrowded email inbox, are you subscribing to them via RSS?
Are you gathering valuable insights, ideas, and attitudes from your fans without forcing them to complete yet another self-serving customer satisfaction survey? Are you visiting your company’s fan sites, which are either built upon privately-owned domains or publicly-available third-party platforms such as Blogger, Facebook, MySpace, or Ning? Do you check photo-sharing sites such as Flickr, or video-sharing sites such as YouTube, Viddler, Vimeo or mDialog for examples of fans using, describing, praising or belly-aching about your products?
Can you get over yourself and let fans describe your products and services in their terms as opposed to regurgitating your pithy little marketing messages? Will you let them bastardize your products through innovative uses like dropping mint candies into your soft drink product to initiate the soda pop pyrotechnics of nucleation? Or, are you just waiting to swoop in like a storm trooper with legal guns a blazin’?
Does it bother you that fans don’t care about your mission statement? Does your blood pressure rise when you realize that they don’t care how much “value” you can add, how many “resources” you can leverage, or if your CEO can walk on water? Can you live with the fact that fans simply want your products or services to work well: to eliminate their pain, increase their happiness, make them healthier, or just get them through the day?
And can you listen…I mean REALLY listen?
Listen to your fanversations. You just might learn something.
Photo Credit: http://flickr.com/photos/17748937@N00/2114500411/