Home > Uncategorized > S-P-R-A-Ying with @JasonFalls

S-P-R-A-Ying with @JasonFalls

While attending EventCamp10 (#EC10) over the first weekend in February I had the opportunity to be a part of a session with @JasonFalls of SocialMediaExplorer. I have followed Jason’s thoughts for over a year and appreciate his straightforward, collaborative style. What you read and what you get in person is the same authentic desire to educate and share.

The session focused on listening and started off by discussing the importance of listening…not hearing…but really (active) listening.

A Primer for Effective Listening

Wikipedia defines active listening as:

Active Listening is not just an automatic response to sounds. It requires a listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what he or she heard. Today, the ability to listen is an important skill in interpersonal communication. It improves personal relationship through reducing conflicts, strengthening cooperation, as well as fostering understanding.

When interacting, people often are not listening attentively to one another. They may be distracted, thinking about other things, or thinking about what they are going to say next (the latter case is particularly true in conflict situations or disagreements).

Active listening is a structured way of listening and responding to others. It focuses attention on the speaker. Suspending one’s own frame of reference and suspending judgment are important in order to fully attend to the speaker.

So often we think we’re listening but in reality we’re only hearing (huge difference). Rather than listening we’re really only waiting to respond or we’re multi-tasking (ever attend a webinar while completing a project or catching up on e-mail?) [Guilty]

In Stephen R. Covey’s The Four Disiplines of Execution there is a quote that fits quite well here and is related to listening:

Human beings are wired to do only one thing at a time with excellence.

What struck me in the first few minutes of Jason’s session was that:

  • We all have a basic need to connect and help each other
  • We connect to each other by learning more about each other
  • We help by using those connections to create shared collaborative moments
  • We build these bridges by listening

So listening is a critical skill. If we don’t here’s what collaboration looks like:

All too often our interactions with each other, in person and online are some rendition of this classic scene.

So now we’re ready to communicate more effectively right? As Jason continued our session we discussed what effective communications had in common.

Communication model

Communication requires:

  1. A sender
  2. A medium (TV, internet, air, etc)
  3. A receiver

See where that multi-tasking comes into play…it can really interfere with effective listening and keep the receiver(s) from truly understanding the message.

When we have the right players and tools in place, listening will happen. And, (quoting Jason here)

When we listen effectively it allows us to do one really, really good thing — provide excellent service.

Listening Online

Now we get the importance of listening. And going back to our awesome graphic there’s this medium thing (as in the spaces in which these communications are passed). There are multiple types of media (air, internet, TV, etc). Some sort of transmitter. This is where Jason honed in on what is his expertise: listening online.

If we’re going to engage in listening online we need to know what people are saying about us right? Well yes there’s that tactical self serving purpose. But using Jason’s quote from above, the real value in listening online is to listen for what our communities want to know more about us. Listening to these conversations gives us the opportunity to act. Listening to and through those listening acts building relationships online creates a bond between you and your communities.

At this point Jason offered some advice:

  • In using online mediums to build relationships – pitch relationship building with those you encounter, don’t pitch a story. This isn’t about marketing, it’s about a real relationship. Respect it.
  • Remember to listen not only to your brand but also to topics that define your brand

Moving from listening to engagement

Once you’ve developed those listening channels there are three theories you can aspire to, each one requires more engagement and effort than the one before, but the payoff is greater (exponentially). You can:

  1. Give your community what they want (you can appear smart to them)
  2. Listen & actively participate (ask them what they want (appear smarter)
  3. Share great content, connect & create thought leadership in your space (makes your community want what you give them)

Moving from listening to engagement is a process and like anything is a craft. Along the way keep in mind:

  • Write good headlines (headlines get readers to engage)
  • Write what the thought leaders are writing about (in your own words)
  • Find and share 3-4 good pieces of good content on Twitter
  • Post consistently set and maintain  audience expectations

To bring these thought back to some actionable takeaways Jason closed our session by discussion a method we can use to listen and engage to achieve the levels mentioned above.

It’s all about S-P-R-A-Y

  1. S – Search (for what you want to find)
    • Use RSS feeds and a reader (like Google Reader)
    • Use Google Alerts (covers 75-80% of the web)
      • Enhance Google Alerts with IceRocket & Technorati
    • Use Twitter search for real time searches
    • Check out TPS Reports (Tweet Positioning System)
      • Takes what people are saying and overlays where they are saying it
    • Socialmention.com is also a terrific search tool
    • Remember: you’re looking for keywords about your brand (what your communities are searching for)
  2. P – Prioritize what you find (respond now/respond later, route it, etc)
    • Are you finding negative mentions? – Respond immediately
    • Transactional opportunities? – jump on them now (you’ve found them in the moment they want to buy)
    • Finding positive mentions? – stay on top of them
      • See someone tweeting a lot about eNewsletter. DM asking for mailing address – mail them a book.
      • Remember that when you communicate online you’re magnifiying the great/good
      • Look for suggestions
  3. R – Route to actionable party
    • Define your process to route/respond to actions found in the prioritize stage
    • Set expectations with your team and community about accepted response times
  4. A – Act on it appropriately (we tend to forget this part)
    • Do the heavy lifting
    • Turn user ideas into reality
    • Small wins for community has a huge impact and builds trust
    • Document community experiences and ask for their feedback
  5. Y – YES!
    • Do all of the above and we are engaging our communities actively with trust building results

A Nod to Online Tools

Jason spend a few minutes talking about tools that can be used to help take what’s discovered online while S-P-R-A-Ying  and capture actionable items:

  • Evernote
  • OmniFocus
  • ReQall

Regardless of the tools you use, the idea is to capture ideas and act quickly.

  • Reading blogs
    Write good headlines
    Thought leaders are writing about
    3-4 good pieces of content for Twitter (find & share)
    Get into consistency that audience is used to (set expectation & then deliver)
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 19, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Wow. I feel like I owe you a fee for documenting all that so nicely. It’s like you took my presentation, helped it make sense and turned it into a White Paper. Well done. I’m flattered! Looking forward to meeting you in person next month. Thanks again for this. (Love the graphics, by the way!)

    • February 19, 2010 at 10:17 am


      I’d argue that your sharing this information at EventCamp was your social capital offering while this recap is mine. So, this sharing is social capitalism in a microcosm. I appreciate your thoughts and experience as well as this feedback. During your presentation I kept laughing thinking of the scene I added here from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Truly captures failed communication.

      Feel free to share this around and use this in future speaking engagements. I too am looking forward to meeting you next month. Let’s make sure there’s some time in your schedule for us to show you some fun spots in Dallas.

  2. February 19, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Wow! You could have made two or three blog posts out of this Kevin. You really packed a lot of useful information here. Unfortunately, I was so exhausted from all the fun of being an onsite attendee at #EC10, that during Jason’s session I crashed for a while. This post shows me what I missed. I will clip it to Evernote and return for the useful tips!!

    • February 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm


      I had considered breaking this into 2-3 blog posts and just couldn’t find a natural breaking point. So, we’ll just call it the “War & Peace” of blog posts. Thanks for the feedback and couldn’t agree more about evernote. Love that tool.

  3. February 20, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I am looking for someone from your group that could help me set-up my http://www.salesforce.com database, and also train my office manage on how to maintian the database and how to send email blasts from it.

    This would be a paid, short-term contract position.

    I look forward to your reply
    Patrick Butson, DFW Imprint

    • February 21, 2010 at 5:36 pm


      I will contact you tomorrow by phone to discuss your needs.

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