Research on Readers Versus Listeners
Two studies found that readers recalled more detail surrounding the main idea of written material, while listeners were able to grasp more of the higher-order main ideas than readers. (Lund 1991, Lesser 2004)
In an online study that compared listening to reading, researchers found that listeners were more motivated, had more interest to search out additional information online to fill gaps in understanding, and were motivated to have a more deep and fuller appreciation of the listening material. Listeners remembered more than readers. Readers on the other hand were not motivated to use any outside sources to fill in their understanding of written material, and only wanted to complete the reading task. (Absalom & Rizzi, 2008)
Two studies of listeners and readers found that main ideas and main idea questions were more easily discovered and answerable by listeners. Readers on the other hand recalled better detail and detail questions. Lund (1991), Park (2004)
A Harvard University study found that people remember 70% of information when provided the opportunity to see and hear a presentation, rather than 20% for hearing it only, and 30% for seeing it only.
Listening and reading have comprehension in common, but the way in which they gather the full information, or what the researcher calls decode information, are different. (Song, 2008)
As consumer conversation grows and becomes denser online, the increase in social media listening technology will become commonplace in companies large and small. Brands involved in this activity will also need to have a reproducible, predictable model for success.
One of the elements of this success model is for brands to add listening and reading processes into their social media monitoring environments. It will help establish a center-of-excellence approach to comprehending and engaging with their brand’s customers online.
This solution would be particularly helpful as human reading comprehension levels tend to weaken over extended periods interpreting text generated from a social media monitoring dashboard. An alternative quick fix solution to improving current social monitoring practices would be to evaluate a social reader's comprehension level. Much like a proofreader is evaluated to determine if (s)he has good mental error detection skills, social media monitors could be evaluated for reading comprehension strengths.