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During last week’s Cloudforce event in Boston, Salesforce‘s CEO Marc Benioff stated that “branding in today’s world is a series of real-time conversations.”

As Vice President heading the online strategy for HSM and the World Business Forum, I constantly “keep my virtual ears” open for any mention of anything related to the HSM brand and all their events using a combination of tools including Google Alerts, HootSuite, SocialOomph, HubSpot and various others.

With the growth of social networks and people’s sharing on sites such as Twitter and Facebook, companies are increasingly paying attention to what people are posting and engaging.

Best Buy is engaging their customers with their Twelpforce (A collective force of Best Buy technology pros offering tech advice in Tweet form.)

Some are taking it to the next level…

Here are two beautiful examples of how “actively listening” to the real-time web is executed:

Dell’s Social Media Listening Control Room

(Photo Credit: ReadWriteWeb)

 

Gatorade’s “Mission Control” room

(Photo credit: Wall Street Journal)

 

In both cases, these companies have set up dedicated social media specific “listening rooms” with specialized equipment and dedicated staff whose duty is to monitor the web looking for opportunities to engage people who may be talking about their brands. Preliminary results posted by AdAge on Gatorade’s Social Media Mission Control state that since the launch of G-Series and Mission Control, discussions about sports performance have jumped to nearly 60% from 35% in April.  This statistic has been particularly important to Gatorade as it is trying to reposition itself as a sports performance innovator rather than simply a sports drink. By leveraging Social Media and actively joining the conversations around its brand – they are better able to steer the topic towards the topic they want to drive.

With the continued growth of Social Networks and a recent global survey on The State of Corporate Social Media by Useful Social Media, stating that 88% of US companies plan on increasing their budget for social media in 2011 – expect to see more of this type of active social media engagement by commercial brands.

HSM is very active on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and various other social media channels – and we have staff that actively listens to the conversations being carried on in real time around the globe in multiple languages. 

How about you? Are you currently monitoring the web for conversations around your brand? When someone posts a Tweet, a Facebook update or a Blog post about you, do you respond?

The web is talking about you… Are you listening?