My reaction when thinking about listening and monitoring social media is that listening is proactive and monitoring and reactive.
Monitoring has a sense of distrust to me. Sure enough, when I started exploring the issue online, I came across this article, confirming the reactive nature of monitoring. Monitoring sounds like it is just there to do damage control to protect your “good name.” It doesn’t sound like it has any sort of positive engagement to it. It also reminds me of George Orwell’s, 1984, in that, Big Brother is watching.
Listening on the other hand, means to me, that you are observing the social media world around you with an open mind. You pay attention to the moods and the trends of what people are posting and saying. It helps you reflect and if you decide to respond, you have crafted a thoughtful message versus a knee jerk reaction.
I think a lot of Americans struggle with listening. What could be considered American “culture,” is more about me, me, me and I am spending more time trying to come up with a response while you are still talking, then just focusing on the listening. Like we are natural monitors versus listeners. Now, we have moved on to social media and a whole new way of listening because it can also be instantaneous. We don’t have to stop and think. It isn’t like the old days where we wrote letters to our pen pals or relatives. Crafting a letter took time! Typing a response on a hot debate on Facebook doesn’t. It can often end up looking like this! And, we have all seen how those have completely been blown out of proportion and people “unfriended” and screen shots been taken and shared across the internet.
So not only do we have to listen with our ears, we also need to “listen” with our eyes. The only good thing I can think of with monitoring is to make sure no one is acting in an abusive, threatening manner to other posters or your staff. But, of course, you have already posted disclaimers that that that behavior will not be tolerated and will be deleted or passed along to authorities if deemed threatening enough. Right? Right!