What is a Chief Listening Officer?

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What is a Chief Listening Officer

The marketing sector is constantly evolving, and companies are now dedicating entire departments to focus specifically on social media as the gap between customers and their favorite brands gradually fades.

Before social media, business was essentially a one-way channel: the company spoke, and the consumer listened. But things are different now, and consumers expect them to listen and respond promptly. Branding isn’t what your friends and co-workers say about your business or products; it’s what the customers tell their friends about you, or your products and services.
This is a major shift from the traditional top-down (or one-to-many) perspective that marketers held just a few years ago, and it presents challenges that traditional branding techniques just can’t address. How does a large brand like Apple address those customer-to-customer conversations to learn what people think and say about the company and their products?

Chief Listening Officer: A Job for Social Media Wiz

For the more observant and progressive marketer, this vacuum presents a job opportunity; and one which companies cannot afford to neglect. Employment trend watchers are always on the lookout, pinpointing sectors where jobs are expected to grow steadily in the foreseeable future, and not surprisingly, the technology sector is always expanding, calling for more experts and new specialized positions.

You may not be familiar with this aspect of social media marketing, but a Chief Listening Officer is essential to an organization, and their job is to monitor the conversations happening across multiple social platforms and basically provide the organization a reference point for interacting with consumers.

This job came up quite recently (back in 2010 according to Forbes magazine) but the power and reach of social media means that more organizations are adopting a plan and setting aside a dedicated channel for online interaction, and the way to do this is by hiring a professional social media whiz to scan and interpret the general customer sentiment.e033b30b20f01c3e81584d04ee44408be273e4d319b6164697f2_1280_hearing

A Chief Listening Officer is one position ahead of a Social Media Manager, but they serve a similar purpose. Aside from providing a company a basis for handling consumer issues, this position also serves to gather data that can be used to formulate larger, broader marketing campaigns that target specific audiences. Social channels are a practical way to pick up real life conversations across different locations and settings, and with a dedicated Listening Officer, an organization can expect to formulate a more effective approach to brand styling and even the more general customer assistance plan.

Case Study: Dunkin’ Donuts

Jeff Lerner, a customer at a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through, tweeted about a loose lid that popped off his coffee and soaked his white shirt and new car. Within minutes, Dunkin’ had got hold of his tweet, followed him on Twitter, and sent him a message in the DM to apologize for the incident. The company also asked for his phone number so they could call him personally to apologize- which they did- and of course to top it off, Dunkin’ gave Lerner a $10 gift card.

What followed was a consequence of good PR. Lerner posted on his blog,

    “This is social media. This is listening. This is engagement. This is everything that corporations should strive for.”

Can you guess who at Dunkin’ set that chain of events in motion, transforming Lerner from irritated customer to proselytizing influencer? That’s the role of a Chief Listening Officer: to scan and report consumer engagement so that it passes through the company’s ecosystem, leading to prompt, decisive action.

Tactical marketers are seeing an opportunity here; not just for early warnings and crisis management, but a portal for gathering insights to build brands that are relevant and responsive, ultimately giving more power to the consumer. The most successful brands today are ones that find new ways to build personal, two-way relationships with masses of consumers, making it possible for you to find any product, whether or not they stock it.


Do you have what it takes to become a Chief Listening Officer?

Chief Listening Officers are becoming essential to the business world

CLOs are a new thing in the corporate world, but they provide a good starting point for brands that want to engage with consumers at a more personal level and build trust by solving problems and preventing new ones. With the way consumers are connecting with known brands and organizations, this direct engagement will eventually become the norm, with more people expecting immediate responses for questions and concerns about products and services.