Social Listening: New rules connect dots

Joseph Serwach
10 min readAug 20, 2019

Did you hear anything I just said? Genuine listening has become a rare gift in an era where we screen calls to avoid robots and script-reading advocates.

Information overload, short attention spans and the splintering of mass media have made social listening and true customer support (the foundation of social selling) the ultimate advantage for brands like Caterpiller and Comcast.

We crave a genuine human being who can listen like a true friend.

But most organizations (and many young people who’ve grown up staring at screens) live by the Steve Covey adage: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.’’

One of my mentors, Craig Ruff, now senior education adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder, required his University of Michigan grad students to read and learn from the classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.’’ Such basic social skills, he knew, were rapidly being forgotten or ignored in the digital era.

Anyone can paint but that doesn’t make you a painter

Social media, social listening and even most communications tasks are like painting: numerous business people assume a low-level employee can handle them. But knowing the basics (like knowing how to paint) doesn’t make you a painter, artist or expert.

I’ve literally worked on every kind of digital project from free websites to $200,000 web projects. Each has their own advantages just as we treasure finger painting done by a child as well as the art of the greatest masters. Consider your ultimate goals and budget before starting any project.

How marketers ruin everything

Marketers have a habit of seizing a good idea and over-doing it so much that we flee as soon as we see them taking over a medium.

As a result: our home mailbox got overwhelmed by junk mail, our email box got overwhelmed by Spam and we started using Caller ID to screen every call because most calls now come from solicitors.

Texting the new refuge for being heard? My son, one of the top Chevrolet salesmen in the nation, has found he has had to shift to texting to actually get a response from customers (who are screening or ignoring most other…



Joseph Serwach

Story + Identity = Mission. Leadership Culture, Journalism, Branding Education. Inspiration: Catholic, Polish.