Listening to Two Conversations is Hard

In real life it’s almost impossible to go to the cafe, and listen to two separate conversations going on at the same time. I tried it a little while ago, and it did not work.

Funnily enough, what I do for most of my time at my job is listen to the conversations of millions of people, all going on at the same time. And thanks to the power of social media listening tools, I have the ability to get in and examine these conversations on so many different levels.

So far what it hasn’t helped me to do though, is to realize that a lot of the time the influencers can get it wrong, and that a single conversation by a random person could hold the insights needed to develop a solution or a strategy, or to unfold the whole reasoning behind a movement. Even though it makes sense to have visibility to what the most influencial and followed people are saying, the single guy or girl without much expertise or following might get it right on the first shot.

They might verbalize what everything means on the first try, they might spark a different idea within you to pursue, or they could shed light on a whole new way of thinking, that while you haven’t come across it yet, people are following. There’s so much discovery to do everyday while listening.

For me, while listening to the thousands of conversations, I forgot how powerful the voice of one could be.

Sometimes it’s hard to pay attention to individual voices because of how much volume and attention gets placed on the sentiment of the crowd, how customers as a whole are responding to events or to news. For a large part, the top influencers and sources do all move in the same direction, for as much good as it does. It gets predictable, and when that happens, the listening that provides the most value, or the comments that reveal the most about the situations are hidden away. Sure comments can tell you what most of the customers are thinking or feel at that point in time, but it’s amazing to see a whole possible strategic plan and approach unfold from a single comment, or even a single conversation you over hear on your way home from doing your “real” listening.

There’s this whole idea of listening not as targets to be measured upon in a traditional analytics sense, or in the sense of optimizing like in SEO, but of social media listening also being a key to unlocking new perspectives, concepts and ideas.


So even though listening to two conversations in real life is still hard, and even though we can now listen to 100s of them online, sometimes you only need to pay attention to one.

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