Charlene Li and the Facebook Page of U.S. Embassy – Jakarta, Indonesia

I know Charlene Li from her book < Marketing in the Groundswell >. This little book was a very fun to read. It pointed out a simple fact that is so easily overlooked nowadays: We talk too much, but rarely listen.

In the summer issue of <The Public Manager>, Charlene Li re reiterated this idea—she said: ‘Are you ready to hear back from people? Maybe all you want to do right now is just listen before you say anything.

Li is wise. One example of the ‘listen patiently’ lesson still fascinates me: a company launched a genius campaign to sell a blender—they asked customers to propose things to blend, anything will do. To my astonishment the company actually took the suggestions and blended all the weird thing– such as golf balls, lightsabers, and iPad.

In here: you can still see the crazy blending demonstration. (He blended an iPhone) The idea is indeed crazy, yet you have to admit it’s impressive. The video attracted about 10 million viewers. This Blendtec brand is really good at ‘listening’.

When it comes to public sector, there are people who listen and attract followers as well. Li said in her more recent book <Open Leadership> and also in our interview that ‘The State Department also has done a fantastic job engaging in social media… One of my favorite examples is the embassy in Jakarta, in Indonesia. It has a Facebook page… almost 200,000 people now following it.

Following her recommendation I visited the Facebook page of U.S. Embassy–Jakarta, Indonesia Now it has 328,139 people who like it. I have to admit I like it too—because it’s not a government webpage with ‘serious face’. You can engage in interesting quizzes (I personally recommend the July 4th one), browse pictures, and watch some videos. From this page, I see the sincerity behind American Foreign Service officers. They talk, but they listen first.

Listening makes you a good wife, a good parent, and surely an outstanding public manager. If you are interested in Li’s ideas, you are welcome to listen to her podcast here.

Xin Wen is working for The Public Manager while studying communications at Georgetown University. She received her undergraduate degree from NanKai University in China, where she grew up. Contact her at [email protected] or [email protected].

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Jeff Ribeira

Great points, Xin! Listening is by far the most important aspect of communication in any form, digital or otherwise, yet it also seems to be the most forgotten. How many of the worlds problems could have been avoided or even solved if more people took the time to honestly, and actively listen?