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How to Talk to Executives about Social Listening

Whether your executive leadership is socially savvy or not yet up to speed on "the Twitter," it can be challenging to explain the concept of social listening. Some of the challenge can be chalked up to the presence of social in the term. It's not surprising that their mind may immediately jump to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat and the efforts they've heard about chasing followers and engagement rates. In many cases, these social media efforts haven’t been tied to strategic priorities or value to the organization. That's a problem for another article, but the challenge remains: how do you talk to executives about social listening?

Blog post image How to Talk to Executives about Social Listening

I've given dozens of talks on social listening over the last year. All of them ended with a two-part statement.

First, “Social listening is not a social media investment.”

Second, the version of this sentence that best fits the audience's needs.

Social listening is a strategic investment to:

  • Get closer to your students, audience, and community.
  • Better manage your reputation.
  • Meet modern consumer expectations.
  • Seize engagement opportunities.
  • Identify insights that ignite your campus strategy.

Or simply: Social listening is quickly becoming a required component for strategic intelligence in higher education.


When the slide with this statement is displayed, everyone pulls out their camera or tweets a quote. The executives nod their heads. It seems that we're on to something! But how do we demonstrate this to executives that don’t attend conference presentations? Our Campus Sonar pilot partners told us something similar; they needed some tools to help explain what social listening is to executives or their board. So, we got to work.

What Executives Need to Know

Executives need to understand that strategic social listening doesn’t help you get better at Facebook or go viral on Twitter. It takes more than software and a techy student employee. It requires the appropriate inputs and analysis, and results in real-world outcomes and impact. Outcomes like more conversations with prospective students and families, increased alumni engagement and giving, more strategic media pitches, and more effective marketing materials.

I want you to be able to have this conversation with your campus leaders. To help you, we've created The Power of Social Listening, a three-page handout that explains that strategic impact social listening can have on campus. Page one outlines a general strategic social listening approach, and pages 2-3 demonstrate the approach applied to specific campus goals so you can achieve better outcomes.

Download the handout and keep it handy. If you use it, please let me know how it went.

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The post How to Talk to Executives about Social Listening originally appeared on the Campus Sonar Brain Waves blog.

Liz Gross

Liz Gross is the founder and CEO of Campus Sonar. A recognized expert, data-driven marketer, and higher education researcher, Liz specializes in creating entrepreneurial social media strategies in higher education. She is an award-winning speaker, author, and strategist who was named a 2018 Mover and Shaker by Social Shake-Up Show and a finalist on GreenBook’s 2019 GRIT Future List. Liz has more than 15 years’ experience in higher ed and strategic social listening programs. She received a Ph.D. in Leadership for the Advancement of Learning and Service in Higher Education at Cardinal Stritch University, a master’s degree in educational policy and leadership from Marquette University, and a bachelor’s degree in interpersonal communication from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

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