Lots of organizations use social media platforms to "talk." Far fewer fully utilize the power of social media for "listening."
"Talking" is a way of using these new platforms in old, traditional ways. "Talking" is just a digital-social way of "publishing" or "broadcasting," one-way communication models relied upon by legacy platforms like newspapers and television, theatre and film.
"Listening" creates opportunities for discovery, where organizations and brands can find out what they didn't know they didn't know...about their product, their business, and their customer.
Unilever used a social listening strategy to learn more about the target audience - young guys - of their "Axe" brand of deodorant products. As noted in The Groundswell, Unilever's use of social tools for listening enabled them to discover how young men spoke, the settings they related to, and the topics and themes that mattered most to them.
The result is an advertising campaign for Axe products that might be unappealing or even insulting to many demographics, yet is especially effective at reaching the intended young male who is their target.
Ad Age article: For Axe Star, It Sure Helps to Think Like a Guy
YouTube: Even Angels Will Fall (Axe)
Thesis: Axe vs. Old Spice - Two approaches