[Posted by Steven Noble]

Anyone who has read Groundswell will be familiar with the concepts of listening to, talking with, energising, supporting and embracing your customers and community.

Of these five ideas, four are easy to find in APAC. Here is an example of each from Australia:

  • Talking with the groundwell. Telstra uses Now We Are Talking to share its views about telecommunications issues.
  • Energising the groundswell. Sunglass Hut helped its customers to forward content via SMS, Facebook and email.
  • Supporting the groundswell. Staff can adapt Janssen-Cilag‘s internal wiki to meet their own needs.
  • Embracing the groundswell. Brewtopia designed its first beer in partnership with the members of its email list.

But listening? Sadly, that’s a different story. Here in Australia, I’m finding very few organisations with thought-out, long-term commitments to listening. Likewise, APAC is an incredibly diverse region, but everywhere I’ve looked so far the story has been the same: lots of talking but very little listening.

This concerns me greatly, because listening is not just an objective in its own right —€” it is also one of the keys to achieving any positive outcome with social computing. Without listening, talking becomes shouting, supporting becomes cost-cutting, energising becomes gimmicky and embracing becomes exploitation.

I’ve not yet studied the causes of this behaviour, but I have a theory. In Australia, many of us are employed by overseas multinationals. Usually, we make local operational decisions but don’t set the global agenda. Likewise, multinationals from the US, Japan and Europe often outsource their manufacturing to APAC, but keep their decision-making at home. Now, listening without acting is pointless, and perhaps this is why APAC organisations do less listening. If it is, then local listening will surely grow along with the influence and wealth of our region.

If you know of any strong, measurable examples of listening in APAC, please leave a comment below or send me an email. If you’re a marketing agency with strong, measurable examples of listening in APAC, then perhaps we should consider a formal briefing.