Anyone who works with social media or who has read anything about social media knows that listening is the first step in developing a social media strategy. In fact, listening is the most important thing you can do on social media. Listening to what people are saying about you or about or industry, knowing what they like or the problems they’re experiencing will help you engage appropriately and develop content that will be appreciated and valued.
But with all the social media listening tools out there, how do you choose which ones to use? In all honesty, it’s a matter of personal preference, but from my experience, my two favourites are Google Alerts and Twitter. I like Google Alerts for its simplicity and convenience. You just enter the keyword or key phrase (one word or phrase per alert) you’d like Google to search the Internet for and you get emails sent to you with the search results. You can even create an RSS feed from the alerts and import them into a feed reader or a social media listening dashboard tool (a tool that gathers all of your feeds) such as Netvibes. Twitter is great for monitoring what is being said about you in real time. Twitter will alert you by email every time someone mentions you in one of their tweets. Twitter also has a great search engine that you can use to search key words, key phrases or hashtags. Twitter feeds can also be imported into a tool like Netvibes.
Now that you know of a few tools will help you monitor what’s being said about you on social media, how do you choose which sources to listen to? Where to go for news or updates depends on your objectives. If you’re looking for industry related content to share with your followers, you may wish to subscribe to an industry magazine’s e-newsletter or RSS feed. If you’re looking for general commentary about your product or service, you may wish to join an online community or discussion board. Of course, you could use Twitter as your main source for information and follow the people, organizations and publications that will help you meet your objectives. This is what I do. Twitter is my go-to place for news and updates because it’s current and convenient and it allows me to easily create content for my Twitter channel by sharing tweets with my followers and engaging with those I follow. A second source of information that not only helps me at work, but is of interest to my customers, primarily SMEs looking for best practices in customer service and marketing, is Inc. Magazine. I subscribe to Inc.’s newsletter and I follow the magazine on Twitter. This is an excellent publication filled with advice on anything business related–human resources, customer service, marketing, leadership–and updates on the latest trends and innovations in processes and equipment.
Listening will pay off in dividends if you do it right. It all starts with knowing why you’re listening, who you’re listening to and what you’re listening for. The right tools and sources will help you gather the information you need to be of value to your current and potential customers. I’ve provided you with some suggestions. What other tools and sources do you find valuable?