Cisco Blogs

Social Media Listening and Engagement Journey

February 24, 2011 - 1 Comment

With multiple, diverse, and fragmented conversations happening on the social web, news—both the good and the bad—spreads rapidly. It’s critical to have the ability to quickly gather relevant insights, market trends, and customer intelligence so we can use that information to improve our service and drive our business. There is a huge opportunity to engage with customers in ways and on a level that wasn’t possible before.

For the past year now, I’ve been leading our efforts in social media marketing to do systematic listening for the Cisco brand and also help increase the number of Cisco teams that are monitoring their specific areas. What I’ve learned is that the monitoring and listening process is really a journey—it’s not something we can easily switch on or off. To be truly effective, we must develop clear processes and allocate a variety of resources, people, and tools to this effort.

Ant’s Eye View has been instrumental in helping us through this journey. I recently worked with them to adapt their Social Engagement Journey framework to help us communicate what I’m calling the “Cisco Social Media Listening Journey”. In addition to helping us map our progress, we’re also using this framework to move more teams at Cisco through the same phased approach and steps.

Listening Journey Phases 1-4

  1. Traditional
    Little to no social media listening is happening, there might even be some skepticism about the value of what’s being said in the social web.
  2. Experimental
    This discovery period can be quite eye opening for teams as they start to dabble and explore what’s being said about their specific areas or topics of interest.
  3. Operational
    Usually during this phase is the “aha” moment, data is shared more broadly, people realize the potential, and some smart person usually asks “So what? What do we do with this data?”
  4. Impactful
    Listening becomes integrated with business processes; cross-functional teams are listening, engaging, and reporting in real time.
  5. Fully Engaged
    Data helps drive decision-making and influences budget and investment. This stage is still somewhat aspirational given that many tools are siloed, and at a large organization it’s often a challenge to bring everything together under one cohesive process.

Listening Journey Final Phase

We have a variety of teams at Cisco at different stages of this journey. We’re learning from each other by sharing what’s working and what isn’t. Some teams have progressed well into stage three. Others are just starting out but are quickly realizing the need for listening and seeing the benefits of engaging with customers and prospects in this way. Ultimately our goal is to move further along this journey, not just within individual groups but companywide.

This really takes a mind shift and requires change management across the organization—it’s about changing the way we do business. We still have some distance to travel but the good news is there are a growing number of people at Cisco listening and participating in social media channels. And more recently, I’ve been seeing the first two phases of this journey highly accelerated—no one needs convincing anymore.

I recently discussed this journey concept with Tod Famous, Cisco SocialMiner Product Manager. Tod’s team has developed their its own 5-phase “Social Media Customer Care Maturity Model”.

Customer Care Maturity Model

Tod’s premise is that social media marketing will lead to more customer engagement. More engagement will lead to more conversations and an increase in customer service or sales discussions and actionable inquiries such as “I’d like to buy it, do you have any resellers in Missouri” or “I bought it, but I’m having this type of problem with it”.  These are classic sales and service conversations and will require scalable sales and service teams to engage and handle these inquiries.  

For many organizations the first job is simply to handle inquires that come through social media channels, i.e. when someone posts on your Facebook wall or @mentions you on Twitter. Ideally these should be addressed regardless of whether or not it is on-topic or the type of conversation you were trying to initiate.

The simplest use of Cisco SocialMiner—our social media customer care solution— is to queue these inquiries and ensure they are dealt with in an efficient manner. This is what’s described as level four. This model also identifies “proactive engagement” at level five—where companies are proactively searching for opportunities to sell and service customers. Customers express a need for a product/service or frustration with a failed product/service without even directing that expression at the company; and the company proactively looks for those types of conversations.

This is an emerging business practice and we’ve been moving quickly to incorporate and extend the various models based on what’s working for our business. An early takeaway we’ve seen from all of our work is simple: you should be listening to and engaging with your customers. If you’re not, you should be developing a strategy to begin that journey. As more people are using social networks to express their feelings about your brand, many people expect an answer, and fast.

Where are you and your organization on the journey? Do you have similar or different experiences with your social media monitoring? Has there been a particular approach that’s worked well for you? Please share!

In an effort to keep conversations fresh, Cisco Blogs closes comments after 60 days. Please visit the Cisco Blogs hub page for the latest content.


  1. I enjoyed reading your breakdown of this process. I’ve been a fan of Ant’s Eye View for 2 years and it’s nice to see them listed on your blog as an integral part of your journey.