Brian Copeland: So this guy plays in real estate because he loves us, and he’s going to show you his heart today in his session, and I want you to give a very warm welcome to one of my favorite speakers in America, Mr. Jeff Turner.
Jeff Turner: So what do you do after that? How do you walk onto a stage after that and start talking about something like listening? I need to compose myself a second.
We spend an awful lot of time talking about technology, too much time, I think, talking about technology. It’s my personal opinion. And I say this a lot. You probably heard me say it last time I was here. I love technology. I make my living at technology. My company builds lots of technology. Put me in a room with a bunch of geeks, I can hold my own with geeks. Not afraid of geeks. Like geeks. Geeks are cool. I employ a lot of geeks. I employ geeks way smarter than I am.
But the missing piece, the thing that we fail to spend enough time talking about, in my opinion, is that connecting dot, that invisible line that says I’m going to use this technology because it helps me do something, and I don’t care what that something is. The something can be anything. But the technology is separate from the why. The technology is separate from the vision. The technology is separate from the mission. The technology is separate from the goal. Technology is a step. Technology is a tool. Technology is nothing really in the end except a way to get to the thing, whatever that thing is. It’s not the thing. Technology is not the thing.
So today I want to talk about listening as strategy, and I’m going to tie this to technology at some point, maybe sooner than later. I never really know how these things are going to go. I never fully understand what I’m going to say when I walk up on stage. I kind of know where I’m going, and I’ve got slides to help me, so I can’t stray too far off the path and say things that I regret later, things that show up on Facebook and Twitter and are there permanently for the entire world to see and make fun of me and laugh at me and things like that.
But I believe that this is true, that listening well is as powerful a means of influence as talking well. I mean I believe that to my core. In fact, what’s Woody Allen’s favorite famous quote about success? 90 percent of success is just showing up. [pq align=right]I think 90 percent of communication is listening[/pq], and we do it every single day. And we do it differently depending on what situation we’re in, who we’re talking to, what the emotions are surrounding that conversation, what our attitude is when we talk into that room. Our ability to communicate, our ability to talk, our ability to influence a conversation is 100 percent hinged on what listening strategy we’re using at any given moment.
And our job, whether it’s a parent talking to a child, or it’s you talking to a client or to a colleague, is to be conscious of what listening strategy we’re using. Because if we can be, we can dramatically control our influence and do it with the right attitude. Because for me, everything begins with why you’re doing it.
So let’s talk about the strategies. Here’s the first listening strategy we employ. It’s called not listening, and this is the one we use most often. It’s the most common human listening strategy, and it’s a critical listening strategy. This is a strategy we use when we tune out one source of sound so that we can focus on another source. Selectively block sound so that we can selectively listen. You’re in a restaurant at a table, one on one, somebody you’re having a conversation with. We selectively tune out all the noise so we can focus just on that person. In the hallway, Marlene Bridges and Jeff Dowler, where are you? There’s Jeff . . . Marlene . . . you guys separated.
Hi. Oh. You make a very cute couple, though. We had a brief conversation about this, about the distractions that come into play, and we’ve made a decision at my house. Actually I made it. I made it after years of making bad decisions. And it starts out simple, really simple. We do thankful fors around our dinner table. Right? Each kid takes turns saying what they’re thankful for that day. Well, I would pick the kid. And I didn’t realize it, but apparently I was picking the same kids all the time. I happen to favor my daughter. She’s really, really cute, and she has me wrapped around her finger. It’s my kid. I can pick her if I want.
But one of my kids said, you’re picking the same people all the time, and it’s really not fair, Dad. You need to be more random in the way you’re selecting who goes first at thankful fors. So what did I do? I do what I always do. I find a piece of technology to help me solve that problem. So on my iPhone, I found an iRandomizer app, and I put all their names in, and before dinner, I’d click on it, and I’d say, see, it chose it for me, you’re first. Argument settled, right? Totally random. I didn’t pick it. There are no favorites here. You get to do the thankful fors first. But what happened? What did I have to do to make that happen?
No, I had to bring my iPhone to the table. And so even if I put it in my pocket at that point, a buzz from a tweet or a text message or a phone ringing would ring in my pocket. And even if I never ever once picked it up, in my head, I was being distracted by that sound. I wasn’t using the not listening. I wasn’t tuning that out completely, and my kids could sense it.
So I spent a week at a ranch in Malibu at the beginning of this year. Some of my friends are calling it the cult ranch because I talk about it so much. But what it did, I disconnected completely from technology, hiked. I mean, literally, called my family 5 minutes every night and broke myself down to the point where I could recognize just how distracted I was in my life by all of the technology I surrounded myself with. The first decision I made when I got home was no more iPhone at the table. “I’ll find another way to randomize your names. We’ll put your names in the center of the table in a hat, on pieces of paper.” Whatever I have to do eliminate that distraction. (Note: this is a decision that has stood the test of time.)
Because sometimes it’s not about tuning out the distractions of the restaurant that you’re in. Sometimes it’s about choosing a different restaurant. Find a place where you can go where you don’t have to worry about tuning that out, so that that not listening skill is handled by the circumstance you place yourself in so that you can focus on that person sitting across from you. We do this all the time. How many times have you said I want to go here or give me a quiet . . . Mike Parker today . . . give me a quiet corner in the restaurant to sit. Why? He wanted to focus on our conversation. I wanted to focus on his conversation.
It’s important, and we mess it up. We play with our phones. We tweet and do other things at the same time, and we don’t give the other person the respect they’re due when we’re supposed to be having a one-on-one conversation. So we understand that. We don’t always do it well. I fall down just like everybody else. We don’t always do it well, but we understand it, and we get it. And then we go online, and we forget it again.
And so, the tools are there. I’m just putting one sample up here, but this is one of the ways that I use to not listen on Twitter, for example. I spend a lot more time not listening in this context than I do listening on Twitter in a completely different context. And for those of you who are listening to the Spanish translation of this, I hope this doesn’t get too confusing.
But one of the ways, Klout. Anybody heard of Klout? Personally I don’t pay much attention to it. But it is a method of filtering, and one of the ways you can filter is to say let me listen to only the conversations that are coming from people who Klout says have influence. It’s one way of listening. This stream doesn’t go very fast because if I set it at 65, there aren’t that many people who have an influence number of 65 and over on Twitter.
And so these conversations come at me again. I’m not suggesting it as a strategy for you specifically, but later, after this session, I think Brian is going to pull a couple of us up here to talk about tweeting. [pq align=right]Your greatest opportunity on Twitter is not talking. It’s listening.[/pq] And one of the things that you should be paying attention to is how to not listen properly. How do I tune out all of the noise that I don’t want to hear, all the stuff that you laugh about and make fun of, all the Foursquare check-ins, all of the lunch descriptions, all of the stuff. You know what I’m talking about. I’ve made fun of it. We all make fun of it because it’s funny. That’s why we do it.
Not listening is a strategy. You need to learn how to not listen not only in your personal life, in your communications, one on one with the people who you’re supposed to be paying attention to, but also as you move that conversation online into those spaces. Ask yourself the question what is available to me in this tool to help me not listen. Okay.
Listening For Reinforcement.
This is the strategy we use when we’re listening to things that we like, that we agree with, that we, yeah, I kind of agree with that. And its characteristic is that there’s no critical thinking involved. Right? So we make mistakes here because its weakness is you don’t question whether or not what’s being said is right or truthful or wrong or matches your values or aligns or anything. You flip a switch. I’m hearing something that I agree with; I’ve just turned off my critical thinking. I’m listening for reinforcement. Right?
You probably do this sometimes in listing presentations, I’m betting. The seller says a word, and instead of listening with a different strategy, you’re listening for reinforcement, and it triggers, and I’m going to use scripts, because scripts have been talked about a lot today. You know part of the reason why I like sitting in on the conference sessions before I speak is because it helps me to understand. It’s a listening strategy of mine. It helps me to understand my audience. I’m probably going to say this three or four times because I want to reinforce this. [pq align=right]There is nothing wrong with scripts. There’s something wrong with what you’re doing before you use the script.[/pq] It’s not the script. It’s the words you’re keying off of when you decide to use that script.
So if you’re in the listening for reinforcement mode, and instead of listening with the two, and I don’t want to reveal the next two strategies because that would make this presentation suck. So if you’re in this listening mode, and they say a word, and you’re in listening for reinforcement because you just want them to agree with you. You want it so bad. I want you to be what I think you are. And you use the script that’s keyed off of those words in this mode; you’re going to use the wrong script. And you’re going to miss the opportunity to have a real conversation with this person. It’s not the script. It’s the strategy you’re employing before you get to that script.
And so, same thing happens online. And there’s really nothing inherently wrong online with listening for reinforcement, and so, Momma Joan, I know you’re listening on Twitter. This is not an attack on you, please, because listening for reinforcement is actually fine. There are times when you don’t need to employ critical listening skills. And so in this one, Momma Joan is listening for reinforcement. She is hearing words that she agrees with. And so what does she do? She doesn’t have to think critically. She just retweets. That’s an example of listening for reinforcement. There’s nothing that she has to disagree with. There’s nothing that she has to analyze or apply analysis to. She agrees with it. She retweets.
We do this all the time on Facebook. We like something, and we listen for the likes, and we respond to the likes, and people’s responses, yet they’re not really listening. They’re hearing what they want to hear because they agree with it, and their response indicates that. It happens constantly. Listening for reinforcement, number two.
Listening To Reply.
Number three, listening to reply. You know this one. This is the one you use when what you have to say is more important than what anyone else in the room has to say. It’s more important than the person across from you has to say. And it’s not absent critical thinking. It’s not like listening for reinforcement where there’s no critical thinking involved at all. There’s critical thinking. It’s just not applied to what’s being said by the person speaking. It’s being applied to what you want to say.
You’re analyzing the words you’re about to say in the context of the words they’re using to make certain that what you’re about to say can be said. The problem is you don’t ever really get to the true understanding of what that person is talking about. And, again, you know this already, right? This is listening 101.
Let’s come back to the scripts again. If you’re listening to reply, and you already know what you want to say, and you use a script that’s based upon a critical analysis of what you’re going to say and not on a critical analysis of what it is that they’re talking about, it’s not your script that’s the problem. You’re the problem. Your listening is the problem. Your ability to turn this one off at the appropriate time is critical.
Have you ever asked somebody a question, and the answer they give you, I didn’t think I asked that question. This is what politicians do. This is the main listening skill for politicians. You hear it in every single debate. I’ve never watched a presidential debate where they’ve actually answered the question that was asked, because they have talking points. They’ve been scripted in the wrong way. It’s not their script. It’s not their knowledge. It’s not their understanding. It’s their listening that’s the problem.
See, if I’m the seller, and I’m listening to you as the realtor, what you should be saying to me by your use of scripts is that I know my stuff, not I’ve memorized my scripts. Memorize a script. Fine, do that. But put yourself in the right listening mode to hear appropriately. Then pick the script that’s actually going to meet my needs. That’s critical.
Now, this needs to happen online, and this happened just this past week. And if you didn’t hear about this, you crawled in a hole somewhere. A CNN reporter was brutally raped in Tahrir Square in Egypt, and this reporter, an actual really well-respected reporter, was in listening to reply mode. See, listening to reply mode is most often used when you’re very emotional about a subject; you’re very passionate about a topic.
And he was very passionate about this, and so he saw the headline, and I’m going to take him at his word that he didn’t read the actual article which talked about the actual incident. He read the headline, and he was listening to reply, because his reply was Lara Logan had to outdo Anderson. You know, because Anderson Cooper got hit. So his reply had nothing to do with the actual article. He was listening to headline. He was listening to make his point. He was passionate about protecting the image and the sanctity of what he felt were women in Egypt who were constantly and brutally attacked all the time and never got any news story. That’s where his passion lay, and so, he listened to reply. The end result? He no longer has a job.
I see this all the time both on Facebook and on Twitter and in other social spaces. You see it as you walk around every single day. And in order for you to have the greatest amount of influence you can have, and I don’t care whether it’s a face-to-face discussion or a group discussion or whether you’re standing in front of an audience like I am now, when you come at a conversation in this listening strategy, in the wrong situation, you will pay a price. I guarantee it.
Listening To Learn.
And so, this is the one that we need to be in. This is the one you need to be thinking about. It’s listening to learn because this is the one that puts you in that mind space to say I’m trying to figure out what’s happening in between the words. I’m listening to what’s not being said. I’m trying to judge the motives. I’m trying to judge the truth, the accuracy, what’s really going on here. And you can put yourself in this space, but you have to want to. You have to have the desire to [inaudible 20:42], which is easier to say than probably I made it. You’ve got to have the desire to dig deeper. You’ve got to want to learn. This one’s hard. [pq align=right]The good stuff’s always hard.[/pq]
This happened yesterday on the plane. So I was watching the Twitter stream, and Waylon, where are you Waylon? There he is. So Waylon tweeted,”great information from @JerseyDebMadey on cloud computing thank you for sharing.” Couple things you can do. I can be in not listening mode, and I can just tune out this entire #SAB11 conversation. I can be in listening for reinforcement mode where I go, oh, I really like [Deb], I kind of like Waylon, I’m going to retweet him because I like him. There’s actually no offense, … we just met face to face yesterday, but I dig him.
He’s just one of these guys. You know, you talk to him for the first time, and he’s real. So, again, not an attack, because this is about me. His tweet’s great, but if I’m in a different mode, I just retweet it. What happens? Not a darn thing. Not a darn thing’s going to happen because I’m not adding any value to the conversation. I’m listening for reinforcement. I’m just retweeting. There’s no value to that conversation.
So I know that I’m giving this presentation. I need a good graphic, one that’s going to relate to the audience, so what do I do? I listen to learn. Now we talked about this last year for those of you who have memorized my presentation last year. Listening is different on the web, right? When I’m sitting here talking to you, looking around the room, I can tell whether or not you’re listening. I can tell who’s listening and who’s not. I can tell whether an [inaudible 22:42] group is listening because I can read your body language. Right? You’re listening to me. I can tell.
Online, it’s different. People can’t see you. The only way that someone knows you’re listening is for you to say something. That’s the only way. Facebook makes it easy. You can like something, right? That’s really easy. You can just like it. It has some value. But [pq align=right]the best way to show you’re listening is to put yourself in that learning mode.[/pq] So I ask this question, what was your one key takeaway and what ensues? He tells me his takeaway. I respond. Then Maura joins in.
I’m going to show you another conversation that occurred this morning that was a result of listening that ended up with 107 tweets that went back and forth off of one comment I made on a session this morning. But in order to get to that level of engagement, to that level of influence, you have to be able to put yourself into a space that says I want to go to the next level. I want to take this to the next step. I don’t want to listen passively. I don’t want to just not listen. I don’t want to listen to reply. I don’t want to listen for reinforcement. I want to listen to learn. Because when you come at that space, you have the ability to exert influence. Why else would you be in these spaces?
Now, some would argue, well, because I really like my friends. I do, too. I do, too. But that’s not the only reason I’m in these spaces. It’s the primary focus when I come, but it’s not the only reason I’m in these spaces. We talk about social media and social marketing and all of these things, but, man, we lose it. We turn off our brains. [pq align=right]We just click something off when we’re sitting in front of the computer screen[/pq], and we forget those basic skills, drive, the reason why people choose us in the first place.
I want you to try this. Try and assess in the moment what listening skill you’re using at any given time, and if you can, try to flip that switch and get yourself out of whatever mode you’re in and put yourself in that listening to learn mode. Whether you’re face to face or in a group or sitting online, figure out a way to assess what listening mode you’re in and flip that switch. Because if you can do that, good things happen.
So let’s talk about listening to learn. There’s a lot of science and psychology behind all of this stuff. Lots of articles have been written about friendships and relationships and how they last. And so, friendships that start in elementary school. The friends we have in elementary school we have because we share a homeroom. Right? We’re at recess at the same time. They’re basically friendships out of convenience. We’re all forced into the same [thing]. We don’t have great communication skills. They’re just buddies.
But as you grow older and your interests change, those elementary school friendships fade away because they’re all, they’re based on convenience. And then it sort of moves to shared interests, and then as adults, we transfer into shared values. That’s how relationships, sustained relationships. By the time we’re adults, we subconsciously, we unconsciously evaluate every conversation, and unconsciously we’re in a listen to learn mode. But the listen to learn is assessing whether or not the person that I’m talking to shares my values.
Is this somebody that I trust? Is this somebody that I can depend on? Is this somebody who’s got my back? That’s happening at the subconscious level and sometimes consciously. But that’s a listen to learn mode. It’s how we’re built. We can’t get away from it. And so, if we want to align with our nature, we need to begin to consciously align ourselves with that nature. We’re seeking that. We’re looking for it.
This is where most of us spend our time. The vast majority of the interactions that take place in Internet space when we’re looking at this continuum from awareness to community, community being that Holy Grail. For me, the Holy Grail of any brand is community. Think Apple. Think Jack Daniels. Think Harley Davidson. They’re communities. Right? You can’t attack those brands and not have the people who love those brands come out of the woodwork to defend those brands. That’s community. That’s affinity. You get there through this process.
And the problem with what’s happening online is that people are unconsciously and sometimes consciously placing themselves in the position where the only thing they’re doing is having interactions around shared interests, and they’re never getting to where they can have interactions around shared values. And this is where the listening to learn mentality comes into play, because that process of asking questions about listening in between the spaces, understanding the motives.
I learned something when I asked Waylon what was your key takeaway. First, is he going to respond at all? Is he really listening or is he just tweeting out and not paying any attention? There’s a value assessment I make based on that. Right? I judge the quality of his response. Is he giving thought to it? I subconsciously make a value statement about him based upon that response.
You think all of these interactions are meaningless. They’re not. Every single interaction we have has an impact on people’s impression of us and our values and our brand. [pq align=right]Our values are our true brand.[/pq] And so, every single point of contact you have with every single human being you touch, every conversation has an impact on your brand because it has an impact on your values and their perception of your values.
The only way to get to that is to listen to learn. I can’t find out anything about Waylon if I retweet and do nothing. I can find out something about Waylon if I listen to learn. And then we have an opportunity to connect on a whole different level. Right? That’s what we’re looking for.
You’ve got to move yourself out of this space where the vast majority of people are living, and you’ve got to move yourself further down this line to establishing the opportunity to own your community, to have people protect your brand and your back in the same way that Apple fanboys and Harley-Davidson and Jack Daniels lovers do.
Somebody in your community says, oh, they’re not a very good realtor. You want your community to come out of the woodwork to defend you. That’s what you want. You do that, you’ve achieved the Holy Grail in marketing because you’ll have more word of mouth than you can possibly handle.
Jeremiah Owyang is one of my favorite web strategists, and he wrote a blog post awhile back called the “Evolution of Listening, the Eight Stages of Listening,” and so I decided I’d make a little graphic based on it. And so, people come in to the online space, and the first stage of listening is no objectives. They come in, and they’re playing around on Twitter, they’re playing around on Facebook. They have absolutely no objectives. And everyone in this room probably started out in that same space.
Most of you got onto Facebook, why? Because somebody said you should. You had no idea. You’ve signed up for the Facebook account. You’ve signed up for your Twitter account. You’ve signed up for your LinkedIn account. You’ve signed up for all these accounts. You came at it with no objectives whatsoever. That’s okay. That’s the first phase in the evolution of listening.
Second phase, tracking mentions. Next thing you know, you’re paying attention. Who’s liked my posts? Who’s made a comment? Who’s retweeted me? Who’s mentioned me on Twitter? Who’s left me a recommendation on LinkedIn? You’re paying attention to your mentions. You’re still far away from getting to an understanding of who your client is and what they want, and the ultimate, anticipating their needs, being able to drive your business strategy. Because you are so close to your customer, you listen so attentively to what they’re saying that you can anticipate what they need before they need it. And you shift and you move and you act based upon that.
That’s the benefit of listening. The benefit of having all of these conversations, of putting yourself into that learning mode, that listening and learning mode, gets you so close to your customer that you can anticipate their needs. That’s what you want.
That’s where there’s return on investment. You know where the return on investment comes in all of this social strategy? And, again, when I’m saying social strategy, it’s not just online social strategy. It’s your offline social strategy, too. If all you ever do in your conversations is touch on those hyper interest-based conversations, you will never do business with anyone.
You’re going to be that . . . I use this example a lot. I can have a conversation around shared interests with a stranger in a bar. I think it’s CRS on Friday last week. I’m going to use the example again. Raise your hand if you were at CRS in Northern California last week. How many of you are going to cringe at what I’m about to say? Okay. I could be sitting in a bar next to a child molester, and I don’t know, right? Because we’re in a bar. I have no idea who he is. And if there’s a game on television, Laker game on television, I can have a conversation with him all night long.
We’ll just chat away. We’ll talk about Kobe. We’ll talk about the Lakers. And it will have no impact whatsoever on my life. I will never do business with him. I’ll never ascertain what his background is, what his values are, whether we have shared values. I can have conversations around shared interests until the cows come home, and it will have absolutely no dramatic impact on my life.
It’s not until you move down this chain of listening that you get your return on investment from that listening, to where you understand what that person’s wants and needs are. That’s where you get your return on investment. You cannot get there through any other listening mode than listening to learn. Now, you should probably combine listening to learn with not listening. Right? Tune everything out, focus on who you’re supposed to be focused on, and listen to learn. I would combine those two things.
[pq align=right]So listening is rare. That’s what makes it so valuable.[/pq] Good listeners, you know them, right? You recognize them. You walk away from conversations with a good listener, and you feel good, don’t you? Don’t you just feel good? I feel good when somebody has really listened to me. I feel good. I can sense it. They were there for me.
Only 50% Of People On Twitter Are Paying Attention To Anything
And so, this is fact. This is a survey. I forget how many thousands of Twitter users were surveyed on this one. Only 50 percent of people who use Twitter are even paying attention. In fact, most of them never go to hear what anyone else is saying. Now, I could take this one direction and say, well, then Twitter’s worthless, but it’s not. See, what if you’re a part of that maybe 6 percent that’s actually in listening to learn mode? Because this is what the potential is.
This happened this morning. I was listening to the session, the technology versus traditional session, and I said I really think this conversation should die, because it’s not important. It’s not about technology. It’s about the conversation. It’s about the conversation. What gives you the opportunity for the best conversation? And so, Corcoran Group was listening in, and they said, well, what do you mean by it is about conversation. See, they were in listening to learn mode, too. When you get two people in listening to learn mode, you’ve just created something special.
And so I said, I believe markets are conversations. Therefore, if you want better marketing, you need better conversations. And it went back and forth. Next thing you know, you’ve got Bill Lublin and Gahlord Dewald and Derek Overbey from Roost, and they’re all joining into this conversation.
And last I checked at noon, 107 tweets later, they’re saying how can we get this on an Inman Connect panel. Maybe we should meet at a coffee shop and finish this one. Great conversations. Conversations held in an atmosphere of learning create synergies, create opportunities that are rare because so few people are doing it.
And this is true on Twitter, and it’s true on Facebook, and it’s true at the coffee shop. It’s true at the VFW lodge. It’s true at a dinner table. It’s true at your office meetings. Few people listen to learn. And you got to get yourself into the right space.
I love Gahlord Dewald. Those of you who don’t know him, he’s one of the foremost SEO experts in the country, and the reason why he’s such a great SEO expert is because he actually has turned SEO conversations into better conversations. He just has better conversations around SEO. And so, he said something, and I’ve been doing this for a long time. I just didn’t know how to put it into words, and he was giving a presentation, and he said this. He goes, when I go online into those online spaces, I go in with this thought, how can I help someone.
Because your attitude when you step into a conversation makes a difference. You walk into a listing presentation with your scripts, and if your attitude is, I am here to make certain that I, this sale. That’s one way to think about it. But if you go into that with this attitude, I am here to help them. That’s a whole different energy.
So when I was at the ranch, one of the reasons . . . the ranch, the cult . . . remember the cult I was telling you about? I went not to lose weight, though I lost 14 pounds in a week, by the way. I went because I had lost connection with why I was doing things in business. I just, I was dragging. I couldn’t figure out why can’t I wrap my hand around this, why can’t I figure it out. So my wife gave me a book to read. Second chapter of the book . . . it was a book by Thich Nhat Hanh, and there’s the principle that’s based around the concept of I am here for you, and it just literally, second day I was there, it clicked. I finally get it.
My problem is I haven’t been focused on the other person enough. I asked myself what would happen if in every conversation I had, whether it was online or in person, the message that I sent was I am here for you. What would happen to your business? What would happen in your life? See, you need to go into these learning modes, and you need to take these things online, but you need to do it starting out with the right attitude. Why are you there? If you don’t know why you’re on Facebook, stay off for a while until you can figure it out. Because I’m going to suggest that you take this attitude into that online space. How can I help you? How can I help someone? I got 15 minutes to go onto Facebook. How can I help someone in the next 15 minutes?
And so, there are lots of opportunities. You just have to understand how to use these tools. Now remember the tools are just a stepping stone. Not about the technology. It’s about what the technology allows you to do.
I want you to try this, and this is just one example. You can search on Facebook, right? But the coolest thing about Facebook is you can search only posts by your friends. Pretty cool actually. Most of you probably don’t know you could do that. You know how I know that? I just know it.
Go to the search. I want you to type in the word plumber. And if you’ve friended lots of people in your local community, it may not happen the first time you do it. You may not happen the second time you do it. It may happen the third time you do it. Just put in the word plumber.
This is literally from yesterday on the plane. Second one down, “looking for a good plumber that is dependable and not too terribly expensive, any recommendations?” What if every single day you just had certain keywords that you wanted to go . . . see this is part of listening. I’m not listening to all of the noise. I’m cutting out all the noise, and I’m going to focus on this keyword. How can I help someone today? Hmm, I wonder if anyone needs a plumber. I know a good plumber because I work with good plumbers. It might be really good for me if I connected the good plumber I know with this person who’s a friend of mine, because that allows me to connect the people in my community.
I want to be a connector. I want to help someone. Will they remember that? He waits in silence for the crowd’s voice to raise in unison as they say yes. See, this is a listening strategy. It’s a listening strategy. You have to want to help someone. You have to want to listen. You have to break out of the constant pattern, whatever pattern you’re in on Facebook, and get yourself into a mode of thinking.
For me, the word I use most often when I go in is “WordPress. “We’re WordPress experts. at Zeek Interactive. I want to answer questions on WordPress. That’s what I’m an expert at. You’re experts on lots of different things. Ask yourself the question how can I help someone today and how then can I listen so that I can do that.
Listening is a strategy. Sometimes you need to get a room. This is Yammer. Our customer service at RealEstateShows.com is spread out all over the country. We’ve got one person in West Virginia, one person in Arizona. We’ve got programmers in Huntington Beach, California. Yammer is like Facebook but without Facebook. It’s private, completely off Facebook. So we use it for internal communications. I also use it for a couple of groups, select groups of friends, where we go and we have completely private open conversations where we can say what we can’t say in other forums.
Some conversations are better in a private room. Find your private room. If you don’t know what Yammer is, go check it out. Trust me, it’s worth it. But you can also do this inside of Facebook. Facebook groups work perfectly for this. I’m a member of lots of Facebook groups. Some of them are super-secret. Nobody can see that I’m in those groups. Nobody can hear those conversations. Some groups are just not so secret but kind of secret. People can see who’s in the group, but they can’t hear what we’re saying.
So like my Zeek group, my company group, people can see who’s in there, but they can’t hear anything we’re saying in that group. But everything that somebody says in that group shows up on my Facebook wall. I can see it, but nobody else can.
Got a group of people, a mastermind group that you work with? You want to get more familiar with Facebook and its features? Go set up a private secret group for the time being for your mastermind group. I have one . . . there’s just one other human being in it because I set it up to show him how to use groups so he could see for himself. These are private. Nobody can see them. It’s okay. You can talk to me here. Sometimes if you want to listen better, you need to get a room. Find your private room to do your listening.
And listening should inform your organic SEO because it’s really the only way to understand whether the vocabulary you’re using matches with the vocabulary that your market uses. You talk about listings. Nobody searches for listings in Orlando, Florida, except for a realtor. Right? Do you know what your market uses to talk about the things that you want to talk about? What’s feeding your organic SEO? Are you listening? Are you paying attention?
See, I asked Gahlord to give me a quote because he’s smart. He’s really smart. [pq align=right]Search engines are the modern version of oracles. Ask and they give the answer.[/pq] If you listen for the questions, you can give better answers. See, what you need to be listening for are what are the questions people are asking in my marketplace. If you can identify what those questions are and identify the natural language they’re using in asking those questions, you can better answer those questions. Common sense, right? So how do you do that?
Here’s one of the simple tools you can use. Google Insights for Search. I did this yesterday on the plane. Real estate for sale, house for sale, condo for sale, home for sale. What’s the most used phrase in Orlando? Just Orlando. Home for sale. Okay. Do this for any phrase you want. It’s free. Play around for 30 minutes on Google. Figure out who’s asking what questions, which words are used more often, and then stop using whatever words you’re using when you’re writing about real estate and talking about real estate, and use the words that your market’s using.
Figure out what the market’s questions are. Answer those questions. Stop answering your questions. Your questions don’t matter. The customer’s questions matter, and the customer’s language matters. How is the customer asking the question? Answer that one. Google Insights.
I’ve got seven minutes. Listening increases engagement. I’ve shown you examples of that. You’ve got one person listening to learn, truly engaged with the conversation. You have the opportunity to get engagement on a one-on-one level. You get a second or third person in that mode and [inaudible 46:30] you get a fire. And so, how do you take advantage of this?
And this is where the math comes in. This is Google’s EdgeRank . . . I mean, excuse me, this is Facebook’s EdgeRank formula. And it’s actually . . . it looks really cool because it uses the Greek symbol and stuff, so it looks like you’re really smart if you put it up on the screen, and that’s why I did it because I want you to all think I’m really smart. But I didn’t come up with this formula. Okay. The geeks at Facebook did. They’re geeks. They get this stuff. [Note: Facebook is now moving away from pure EdgeRank.]
So how does this work? So there are two feeds on Facebook, right? There is the top news feed when you go on Facebook, and then there’s the most recent. 95 percent of all Facebook users never leave that top news feed ever, ever. That’s Facebook’s statistics. They know. They know everything. They track your clicks, everything you’re doing inside of Facebook. Okay. 95 percent. So if there are, we’ll say 500 because it’s easier number for me than the 600 million that there actually are. If there are 500 million users on Facebook, 475 million of them never leave that top news feed. But guess what? Only 1 in 500 status messages or posts or pictures or anything ever show up in somebody’s event stream in that top news stream. So how do they figure that out? How do they figure out what to put there? You need to understand this.
So, affinity score between the viewing user and the edge creator. Brian and I have a high affinity score, but it’s a one-way affinity score. If I’m paying attention to Brian, then his stuff shows up in my stream. Make sense? So I pay a lot of attention to Brian, his stuff shows up in my stream. But if I’m a stalker, and he doesn’t really like me that much, and he’s not paying attention, my stuff doesn’t show up in his stream. So affinity is one way. If you want . . . and affinity is the major influencer of what shows up, is affinity. Okay. Your relationship with the other person.
If you want your stuff to show up in more people’s top news streams, what do you have to do? You have to have them have an affinity for you. So if you are also only paying attention to your top news feed, you are only ever going to have an affinity for the people that Facebook tells you to have an affinity to.
You wonder why only a certain number of people ever comment on the things that you say on Facebook? It’s because you’re never leaving your top news feed, and you’re creating this recursive loop of activity. You’re reinforcing what Facebook says to be true. You only see the things they feed you. You only comment on the things they feed you, and that reinforces what they’re feeding you. Does it make sense?
To break away from that, you need to start listening and paying attention to other people outside of that top news feed. The simplest way to do that is to put people in lists, and I’m not going to go into training on that. Find someone to teach you how to use lists on Facebook so that when you go in, you can click on most recent and then click on the little triangle and say I want to go and listen to my clients, or I want to go listen to my family or I want to go listen to, and you put people in those groups.
I have a Spain group on Facebook. Everyone who I’ve ever friended from Spain last year here is on that Facebook page. And there are days that I go in and I click on Spain, and all I’m looking for is a way to connect with people from Spain. That is a listening strategy. Why? Because I understand one of the weapons of influence is reciprocity.
If I comment on somebody else’s stuff. If I do it genuinely, if I engage with them in a way that matters, they are more likely to engage with me. And when they do, remember affinity is one way, that signals to Facebook that they have an affinity with me, which means that my messages are more likely to show up in their stream. Make sense? Okay. Second thing, wait for this type of edge you create.
And then the last thing . . . the math is actually U x W x (1/D), so it’s a depreciation based upon the time. How long a status message has been there, you get, it’s no longer multiplied by one. Right? It’s multiplied by a decimal point. So the further out a status, the less value that status message has. So time is a factor.
But here’s the cool thing. Here’s the way this works. This happened yesterday, too. So here’s how edge works. Stacey puts this on my wall. How does Bobbi see it? Because it’s almost immediate. See, the time was at a full one, affinity was really high, because Bobbie has an affinity both for me and for Stacey, so she saw it almost instantly in her Facebook stream. Very, very high. It was immediate. There was no time decay. Affinity with both of us, so it doubled the affinity score, and so it shows up in her stream.
And then what Facebook does is it begins to add things on because the moment that Bobbi hit the like button, she added another edge. She added one more piece. If she had left a comment, a longer one, and the more people that come, it adds edge upon edge upon edge upon edge. So now anyone who has an affinity for Bobbi is going to see this now. Does that make sense? A little bit. Sort of. Raise your hand if I’ve completely lost you.
All right. Let me break it down even simpler. Here’s how this works. You like someone, and they say something on Facebook, Facebook knows you like them. They show you that post. If two people you like are in that post, it’s stronger. It’s going to stay longer because the decay is not going to have any effect on it. Time isn’t going to have as big an effect on it. So a post where lots of people who I have an affinity with have commented on can stay in my top news for a week if lots and lots of people come and comment on it.
You want to be heard? You want to have influence? You want to use this in the way that it’s intended? You need to understand EdgeRank, at least at the basic level, at least enough to influence your behavior, to get you out of the top news feed and to quit creating this constant feedback cycle that allows Facebook to tell you who you should be listening to. Don’t let them do that.
Listening is work. Listening is hard. You’ve got to be on your A- game. You’ve got to be willing to turn off your phone at the dinner table. You’ve got to be willing to shut out the noise. You’ve got to be willing to ask questions. You’ve got to be willing to take a step back and stop thinking that the things that you have to say are more important than other people have to say.
You’ve got to take the time to say, “I want to understand who this person is. I want to listen in between the words.” Because if you do, in the midst of all of this noise, all of the chaos that’s all around us all the time, online and offline, if you do, there is signal everywhere, and [pq align=right]there are people just waiting for the opportunity to be heard[/pq]. You need to be the person who hears.
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Video Transcription by: Speechpad