In marketing we often talk about reactive and proactive programmes.
In social media marketing a better concept might be “preactive” – the notion of being active before you start a marketing programme.
The concept of listening to those in the marketplace talking about your products or services, or those of your competitors.
The concept of analysing those who are talking, and then working out who they are, why they say what they say, and where they fit in your opportunity hierarchy.
Too often companies (and their marketing or PR consultancies or advisers) rely on published data, be they readerships or market surveys, all of which are as dynamic (and perhaps as relevant) as Stonehenge.
The passive acceptance of the status quo in the form of conventional reports born of historic processes wedded to increasingly outdated modes of marketing simply cannot compete with the insights gained from analysing a truly dynamic debate being held by people with strong opinions on, experience of, or expertise in a subject close to your organization.
Two things are needed to compete and win: an understanding that comes only from listening, and analysis that only comes from humans. Bring those two together, with the social web providing the input at one end and your marketing engine the output at the other, and you have “preactive marketing”.