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Who's Listening?

Listening PostImage by Fenchurch! via Flickr

One thing we have all said and heard over and over in social media conversations is the importance of listening. It is amazing to me that those of us using social media in our businesses and organizations are doing such a better job of listening than those who created the platforms.

Last week, Facebook hosted a gathering of PR professionals at its headquarters in California. When I first heard about it, I got a little excited - they are going to hear what features and needs we have from the social platform and make improvements! Alas, I was disappointed watching the video.

Don't get me wrong, the shared insight and utilization about how the company of Facebook is using its own platform was helpful and I 'Like' the page and encourage you to as well for the helpful tips. It is frustrating however that there is much more Facebook could do to increase the depth of how PR, public affairs, and political and marketing professionals could utilize the social platform with some additions and improvements.

Although there is a 'Questions' link for us to submit questions and comments on Facebook, it's limited in space for what you can submit and is essentially the digital equivalent of a suggestion box. Those of us engaging people on these platforms with regularity recognize the need to be a bit more specific in your ask than 'Questions'.

Over a cup of coffee last week, a friend who embraced social media and Facebook said they were becoming less engaged in the platform.  Their reasons are shared by many, and if the developers were listening could be easily addressed. How about a feature, for example, that allows us to filter or categorize the kinds of information we receive on our wall and where we receive it. I'd like to put the pages I like in categories and choose how and when I see them as well as the information that comes into my inbox from them. I would have a box for entertainment, one for news, one for friend updates. That way what my friends are saying - which is really the essence of the attraction of social media - isn't drowned out by the noise of brand, cause or news updates, but I still have access to all of that information.

There are some social platforms that are improving on this front. Twitter is responding to some of the requests of users such as real time updates and the newest "Suggested Friends" feature. Some of the Twitter changes come on the heels of widely used free apps like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite forging the way - which is our wonderful competitive market at its best - and certainly these changes are long overdue.

I'm an Iowa girl whose Mom raised her to always find the silver lining, which is easy in this case so here it is. Social media move far faster than businesses have historically, so it's likely they'll begin listening sooner rather than later.

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