I didn’t get the headline wrong. I know it should be Stop, Collaborate and Listen (insert pulsing beat), but while that might work for a then-emerging pop star, it doesn’t work so well for marketers.

It’s easy to get a group of smart people in a room to brainstorm. It’s easy to listen to the most senior person in the room and go with their opinion. It’s harder to listen to the people you want to reach- but that’s how you’ll be effective.

Why is it so hard to listen? Maybe you’re not quite sure how to ask. Maybe it’s hard to get people to respond when you ask them questions. Several studies put typical market research response rates at 20-25%, which means that a whopping 3 out of 4 people queried turn away from a request for input. How disappointing would that be if you were on the receiving end of so many cold shoulders!

Something we’ve been noodling on here at SpotRight is the concept of social media as a ginormous real-time market panel. With 73% of the US population on social media, there’s a HUGE opportunity for brands to learn about interests, preferences or simple wants and needs directly from consumers. Where better to see what’s trending, which brands engage with consumers, who gets followed for more than just coupons?

But it’s not as simple as logging into your social media listening platform. Sure, there’s a lot to learn there, but you’ll understand much more if you know who is talking. Want to know what Soccer Moms tune into on social? Care about which media Millennials tend to like? Stop. And Listen (to them). Then you Collaborate (with your colleagues) to come up with the most awesome, relevant and compelling message and creative ever. If we’d all remember the axiom, “there’s a reason we all have two ears and one mouth,” chances are something we just might hear from consumers is thank you.