Image courtesy of (West Central Community Action)

In the world of Head Start, listening is important on multiple levels.  The families served are low-income and it is imperative to meet the families where they are in their lives.  Part of Head Start is a governing board of parents called the Policy Council.  At a recent meeting the parents suggested that the agency begin using Facebook in order to communicate center events to the families.  Many of the families in Head Start do not have cell phones, but they have access to a computer where they would be able to check into the Facebook page.

It would be easy to take this suggestion and run with it.  However, according to Olivier Blanchard (Social Media ROI, 2011), it is important to not jump into the plan, but instead time time to learn more about social media, and the options, and how this can fit into your organization. He also points out the importance of beginning with focused listening, rather than unfocused publishing.

The process begins by finding out what is currently being said about your brand.  I began with a Google search of the company name, and came up with the main site and a few stories.  I tried to dig deeper with adding words in front of the brand name, and came up empty.  This told me that people are not saying a lot about the brand. I then looked into a few of our fellow Head Start Grantees, and a few things stuck out for me.  A few of our competitors started Facebook pages that are outdated or shared limited information.

When I first began this course, I thought that Facebook would be the best tool for families to use, and would be the best way to market the brand.  After seeing what agencies like ours are doing on Facebook, I am now not sure that this will meet the need of our customers.  I do believe that we can use it as a place to direct our customers to a site that will be better suited for the needs of our marketing plan.  Our brand needs a space that communicate with multiple people in multiple locations.  I have begun the search to see which social media platform would work the best.

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Listening is a crucial first step in the adventure towards a social media plan.  Without listening it is difficult to find out what is currently being said about your brand, and where the holes are.  Also, it can help you see what would best meet the needs of the clients worked with.

Many people are worried about not having any social media and lagging behind their competition.  However, it would be better to take the time to listen and choose the best option, then it would be to rush and chose something that will not meet your needs.

Above is a mind map that visually represents the steps in listening for social media.