If you are a frequent reader of my blog posts, you know that I am an avid Denver Broncos fan. However, the Dallas Cowboys were the team I followed throughout childhood. This blog frequently uses both teams’ actions to teach lessons, and it even features one head-to-head post comparing the Denver Broncos’ discipline to the Dallas Cowboys’ sloppiness.

Yeah, I may be a Broncos fan – but the Cowboys’ decade of mediocrity has frustrated me. Fans always blame the quarterback, and I have criticized Tony Romo for bad decisions even though I think he is a good quarterback. However, I generally point the finger at the egotistical ownership by Jerry Jones…and the often-penalized sieve known as the Dallas Cowboys offensive line. Well, Jerry still rules Jerry’s World, but the Cowboys made a commitment to upgrading the offensive line with youthful talent. And that commitment is starting to pay dividends with an effective running game, efficient passing game, and a positive impact to the win/loss record with crazy talk of a Super Bowl run!

This post will discuss 4 ways Social Listening is like the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line. The call to action will be simple: make a commitment to social listening for your brand and watch that commitment pay dividends with its positive impact to your bottom line!

1. Protects the Quarterback

Tony Romo broke a finger and a clavicle in two separate incidents, sustained multiple rib injuries and a punctured lung, and required back surgery before the 2014 season. That is what happens when defensive linemen used him as a tackling dummy because the offensive line consistently could NOT protect him. To date in 2014, Romo has only been sacked 10 times (he was sacked 35 times in 2013). That new offensive line is doing its job!

NFL quarterbacks are THE franchise. When they are productive and injury free, the team wins and the team revenues grow. In business, your brand’s reputation is THE franchise. Social Listening helps find the threats to your brand reputation, like bad product reviews or tweets/blogs after bad customer experiences, so you can avoid the threat and possible brand injury.

2. Buys Time for Plays to Develop

Compare a negative tweet about your brand, that gets retweeted multiple times, to an NFL blitz. Blitzes are designed to take away the quarterback’s time to survey the field and make the right play. Blitzes are disruptive, and a hurried and harried quarterback makes mistakes. Negative tweets that go viral, before you even realize they exist, result in hurried and harried brands making knee-jerk decisions.

Use social listening to “pick up the blitz”, and protect your brand, like this new offensive line is protecting Romo. Identify the threat, effectively block or slow it down – perhaps with a simple and courteous response to the original author, and then develop a “blocking scheme” to protect against similar threats. This blocking scheme may be in the form of proactive public relations and social engagement, upgrades in product features, or more rigorous quality assurance and customer service practices.

3. Opens Holes for the Running Game

The Dallas Cowboys running back, DeMarco Murray, currently leads the NFL in rushing by a large margin. Where first contact against a Denver Broncos running back is frequently in the backfield, Murray gets a head of steam going and doesn’t get hit until he gains positive yardage. That is a credit to the offensive line winning the battles in the trenches, imposing its collective will, and opening holes for the running back to run through. And when you have a good running game, you control the time of possession with consistent, incremental success – while looking for the opportunity to go the distance and score a touchdown with a big play.

Social Listening can help your brand control time of possession – of your customers’ attention and subsequent buying power! It finds the brand conversations, wherever and whenever they may be happening, and it gives you a headstart on engaging the customers and prospects on their chosen platform. And a consistent and contextually-relevant social media presence lets you also look for opportunities to break a big play – in the form of winning a big new customer (perhaps even from your competitors).

4. Gives the Huddle a Different Perspective

The average NFL fan pays attention to the skill players – the quarterback, running back, and receivers. In fact, most fans simply follow the ball because that is where the camera focuses. Quarterbacks are aware of where they are getting pressured, but their main focus needs to be on secondary coverages. Offensive linemen pay attention to the defense’s blitzes and stunts. They have to watch for the defense overloading a side or doing a gap rush. And they have to determine if they need help with a defender, via a double team, or if they can dominate a defender enough to run the ball in that direction. The offensive linemen communicate with themselves in real-time, but they take that real-time monitoring back to the huddle and the sideline for in-game adjustments in game strategy.

Social Listening can provide that same real-time monitoring for “in game”, in-the-moment changes in engagement strategy and content. And just like it takes intelligent offensive linemen to “see through the disguise” of NFL blitzes and stunts, analytics and sentiment analysis applied to social listening can help you identify those “you don’t know what you don’t know” trouble spots for your brand…or opportunities for your brand to dominate the competition!

I hope the Dallas Cowboys use this revamped offensive line to rise back to prominence in the NFL. And if you are responsible for brand reputation and brand awareness, I hope you consider social listening as a foundational component to rise to prominence in the age of the socially-savvy consumer. I would be happy to give you a Pulse Analytics product demonstration and even discuss how ProKarma services can integrate that data with other data in your enterprise.

Meanwhile, Go Broncos!