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Organizational Social Media Accounts: Moving Toward Listening Competency

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Abstract

Researchers apply Bodie, St. Cyr, Pence, Rold, and Honeycutt’s (2012) model of listening competency to social media messaging for organizations. The article provides examples of how organizations and their social media managers, as de facto “listening agents,” can incorporate important verbal listening behaviors that represent active-empathic listening—pertinent responses, elaboration, offering advice and opinions, and answering and asking questions—into their social media profiles. In addition, guidance is provided to social media managers and organizations for how to adopt listening skills that will foster dialogue between organizations and their online publics. Potential areas for future research are also examined.

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... It has, therefore, been established that an important aspect of dialogue is often missing: organizational listening (Maben & Gearhart, 2018;Macnamara, 2016Macnamara, , 2018b. This perspective highlights that dialogue is more than interactants taking turns recalling their respective lines; rather, it is an act of connecting a "chain of utterances" through listening to one another (Macnamara, 2016). ...
... These "canons" come close to what Maben and Gearhart (2018) have defined as competent organizational listening: organizational behaviors such as pertinent responding, answering questions, elaborating on the topics being discussed, offering advice, opinions, and perspectives, and asking questions. Organizational listening differs from interpersonal listening, in that, although it is carried out by people working in an organization, it is delegated, mostly mediated, often asynchronous, and "scaled up," as the number of people that organizations need to listen to can feature in the hundreds of thousands or even millions (Macnamara, 2018b, p. 3). ...
... Although people expect organizations to listen to them and give them quality answers (Lovari & Parisi, 2015;Maben & Gearhart, 2018), studies have shown that listening is not very well practiced in reality (Maben & Gearhart, 2018;Macnamara, 2016Macnamara, , 2018aMacnamara, , 2018bMacnamara, , 2019Willis, 2015). Willis (2015) has pointed out that organizations are primarily involved in monitoring or surveilling instead of actually listening. ...
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Young people are avid users of social media and have appeared as a powerful force for social change, as shown by the ranks of those who have joined Greta Thunberg in the global climate movement. In addition to challenging political institutions and governments, young people today are also holding the corporate world accountable. To respond to young people’s expectations, brands, and organizations have turned to social media to interact and build relationships with them. However, critics have lamented that these attempts often fail and that young people’s trust in institutions, brands, and organizations continues to decline. This article asks how young people perceive organizational listening on social media and whether their perceptions are related to their trust in the information shared by brands and other organizations on social media. Data for the study were gathered through an online survey in Finland and the UK. The respondents (N = 1,534), aged 15–24, represent the age cohort known as Generation Z. The results show that organizational listening is connected to higher levels of perceived benefits from social media as well as higher levels of trust in the information that brands, public authorities, and non-governmental organizations share on social media. The results highlight the role of competent listening on social media, bolstering the previous literature connecting both organizational listening and trust with higher levels of participation and engagement online.
... 1994) have examined listening competency, including both verbal and nonverbal responsiveness, for individuals and organizations. Listening competency primarily relates to how the organization responds to its publics (Maben & Gearhart, 2018). According to research by Bodie et al. (2012), the most important behaviors associated with listening competency include providing relevant responses and answers, elaboration on pertinent topics through advice, opinions, and perspectives, and asking followup questions. ...
... In Place's (2019a) research about how to serve low-income publics, public relations practitioners emphasize the importance of empathy, respect, and humility when engaging with publics. Maben and Gearhart (2018) researched how organizations can empathetically listen to publics via social media. In Place's (2019bPlace's ( , 2021 research, agency employees explained the centrality of empathy to listening and a "commitment to physically "put yourself in the shoes" of your client, vendors, or colleagues" (p. ...
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Starting with a public relations pioneer’s maxim to “listen to stakeholders,” many contemporary scholars have emphasized listening as the key to the inclusion of marginalized communities. Based on 25 in-depth interviews including 19 Black residents of Fort Worth, this study amplifies the voices of Black community members after the killing of Atatiana Jefferson in her home by a White police officer. Their perceptions of systemic racism within the city’s listening processes and their recognition of pseudo-listening and non-action provide an understanding of and suggestions for how the city government can facilitate equitable engagement.
... States' use of Twitter occurs within these limitations because it is action carried out by people--either straightforwardly or by algorithms and data acquisition methods created and interpreted by humans. Maben and Gearhart (2018) emphasize that organizations should define listening in social media as more than simple monitoring or surveillance because followers expect to be heard and look for quality responses. This assumption also applies to nation states, considering that their general efforts in social media concern image cultivation and relationship building. ...
... In this study, the focus is on tactical and active PD listening (see Di Martino, 2020;Yepsen, 2012), which is essential for diplomats' effective communication. Thus, the center of attention is on the kind of listening that has been called for from organizations (Maben & Gearhart, 2018;Stewart & Arnold, 2018). As mentioned earlier, the mass personal communication model bridges the gap between interpersonal and mass communication (O'Sullivan & Carr, 2018). ...
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Listening has become a key concept in practicing public diplomacy on social media. This study explores professional diplomats’ listening on Twitter, operationalizing their listening behavior as interaction involvement (II). II is related to knowing when and how to use language in social situations, and it covers three crucial aspects of listening: attentiveness, perceptiveness, and responsiveness. The present study examines the relationship between diplomats’ interaction involvement and their perceptions of how their goals are being met by their use of Twitter. Survey data were collected from participants (N = 108) who were diplomats from five Northern European countries stationed at each country’s foreign embassies. As hypothesized, the data revealed a positive association between II and perceived goal attainment. Moreover, active tweeting and the following of other users do not alone determine successful impact, but listening skills related to relational awareness and responsiveness are at least as important, if not more important.
... As will be discussed further, existing research examines various in-person and web-based supervisor and manager trainings aimed at increasing their knowledge and skills for detecting, understanding, and supporting employee depression (Hamman et al., 2016;Kawakami et al., 2006;Pyc et al., 2017;Nishiuchi et al., 2007). However, despite the increasing prevalence of social media usage in the workplace, there is next to no research examining how social media ("a USING SOCIAL MEDIA FOR EMPLOYEE DEPRESSION 4 group of internet-based applications that allow creation and exchange of user-generated content" (p. 2, Gough et al., 2017)) may be utilized as a tool to prevent or intervene employee depression (p. 2, Maben and Gearhart, 2017). ...
... As social media is quickly becoming a more prevalent mode of communication, it is natural that its use is elevating within the workplace. Maben and Gearhart (2017) reported that many businesses and organizations have adopted social media as a communication tool; for instance, 86% of 2016 Fortune 500 companies have a corporate Twitter account and 84% of these companies also have a corporate Facebook page (p. 2). ...
... Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the field of Digital Holocaust Memory is undergoing major changes, and indications from scholars are that further changes are possible. In conclusion, it is important to emphasise that new memory ecologies are starting to question the prevailing cautiousness concerning the interactive and participatory potentials of social media use (Maben and Gearhart 2018). ...
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This study takes a social-technical systems approach to investigate how national and transnational memory of the Holocaust are intertwined on the social media profiles of a set of Italian museums and memorials. We examine how Italy’s four most important Holocaust museums and memorials use social media as ecosystems to provide historical content and engage their audiences in digital remembrance about the Holocaust on four social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Results show that posts on Facebook led to a higher volume of interactivity and positive responses than posts on the other platforms, while user activity in terms of creating new posts remains low on all four platforms. The four institutions tend to address a national audience and interweave transnational Holocaust memorial themes with distinctively national ones. Although the examined social media profiles demonstrate that museums and memorials are reliable sources of historical and trustworthy information through which they shape memory ecologies, their use reflects a conservational attitude, with a preference for a target audience over the age of 25, expressed both in the choice of platforms adopted and in the mostly one-way communication approach employed. The paper outlines implications for further social media practice in Digital Holocaust Memory.
... However, new memory ecologies developed in digital technologies are starting to question this cautiousness concerning the interactive and participatory potentials of social media use (Maben & Gearhart, 2018). ...
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Digital technologies and social media platforms have been used in museum communication for over a decade now, and Holocaust museums have increasingly adopted them in their modes of commemoration and provision of educational content. Nevertheless, very limited research has been conducted into the potential of social media as new memory ecologies. In this exploratory study, we conceive social media platforms as socio-technical-ecological systems whereby users develop and engage with memory practices of the Holocaust. We adopt a networked socio-ecological approach to analyse how a sample of Holocaust museums (N = 69) develop practices of digital Holocaust memory in social media. The institutions are analysed in terms of “size” (small, medium, or large), how they differ in their attitudes towards these practices, and to what extent they circulate Holocaust memory on social media. The study adopts multiple quantitative approaches and combines the results of a survey with a set of social media metrics analysing how museums engage on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube in terms of generated content, interactivity, popularity, and type of content. Results show that museums have an overall positive attitude towards social media although some concerns were expressed, mostly by smaller institutions; they tend to use mostly Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and to share educational content and information about the museum's activities. However, despite a tendency to aggregate a large number of fans and followers, especially in the case of larger institutions, interaction with users remains limited. Prospects for more interactive participation and its implications are also discussed.
... In literature, listening competencies are mainly explored in two research fields. One strand focuses on competencies and personality traits describing a good listener; Maben and Gearhart (2018) concentrate on empathic listening behaviors (Bodie, 2011) such as giving pertinent responses, elaboration, offering advise and opinions and answering/asking questions. On the other hand, IS literature explores the IT tools that support web monitoring (Francesconi and Dossena, 2012). ...
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Purpose The research and practice agree that social media are reshaping strategy and organization rules across industries. Nevertheless, how social media can become a source of competitive advantage remains under-investigated and there is no evidence about which capabilities and competencies can effectively and strategically exploit social media. By merging the literature on social media management and hospitality, the authors develop and test a theoretical framework that identifies the most relevant capabilities and competencies for using social media in the food service sector. The paper aims to map them and understand which ones are relevant according to different strategic choices of social media use. Design/methodology/approach The authors adopted a qualitative methodology using semi-structured interviews to managers or owners of 14 restaurants in a big city in Northern Italy. Findings The theoretical framework suggests that social media could be strategically used for different aims by relying on specific capabilities and competencies. The authors tested it and found that, though nowadays restaurant managers mainly focus on a narrow set of social media competencies linked to relational and marketing capabilities, some also rely on social media to promote organizational change and innovation. Originality/value The authors propose a theoretical framework and preliminary evidence on capabilities and competencies declined for the food service sector. The model considers different uses of social media and related capabilities and competencies by mapping them accordingly to their strategic use. The authors preliminarily validate our framework and highlight the competencies possessed by the restaurant managers of our sample and their alignment with the strategic use of social media.
... Of the studies that do address active listening, the focus is online listening using social media. For example, Maben and Gearhart (2018) suggested that organizations need to establish active listening mechanisms online to create a culture of dialogue; this is essential for customerfacing organizations that use social media to engage in dialogic communication with consumers (Gearhart & Maben, 2019). ...
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... Es difícil oír y dialogar si no se procura una interacción para conocer las necesidades del otro. Por tanto, las organizaciones deben adoptar conductas relacionadas con la escucha adecuada para facilitar un entorno comprometido y dialógico (Maben y Gearhart, 2017). Escuchar a los públicos supone un aporte para la organización y ayuda a evitar conflictos, proyectar la compañía hacia adelante y generar relaciones más duraderas con la institución. ...
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... 3-4). Fortunately, Macnamara's work, along with that of a handful of other scholars (e.g., Johnston & Reed, 2017;Kluger & Zaidel, 2013;Maben & Gearhart, 2018;Purdy & Manning, 2015), has produced a burgeoning and steadily growing literature on organizational listening research. The present research project aimed at contributing to this corpus of research by exploring how (and how effectively) companies capture and leverage the VoC. ...
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Article
The recent emergence of online social media has had a significant effect on the contemporary political landscape, yet our understanding of this remains less than complete. This article adds to current understanding of the online engagement between politicians and the public by presenting the first quantitative analysis of the utilisation of the social network tool Twitter by Australian politicians. The analysis suggests that politicians are attempting to use Twitter for political engagement, though some are more successful in this than others. Politicians are noisier than Australians in general on Twitter, though this is due more to broadcasting than conversing. Those who use Twitter to converse appear to gain more political benefit from the platform than others. Though politicians cluster by party, a relatively 'small world' network is evident in the Australian political discussion on Twitter.
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Delighting people in 140 characters: An inside look at JetBlue’s customer service success
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How Wendy’s cooked up its killer frozen beef tweet to McDonalds
  • K Monllos
Who’s pumped for the Big Game? #football #heels
  • Nordstrom
Lookin’ snazzy, Caleb! We’re adoring your dapper ensemble
  • Nordstrom
Woohoo! we’re excited for you to switch it up
  • Amazon
Procuring passion-driven partnerships through effective school social networking: A case study
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How Wendy’s gained 300,000 Twitter followers by roasting users
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Behold: The sass master behind Wendy’s
  • N Gallucci
Here’s how much engagement holiday retailers are getting in social media so far Lowe’s, Nordstrom and Old Navy are faring well
  • C Heine