COM0015-Blog post #1-The most reliable (and/or fun?) listening tools and sources of information

Facebook is the form of social media that I use the most, but in terms of “listening” and “monitoring”, my favourite social media monitoring tool for personal purposes is definitely youTube (http://www.youtube.com/). I find it addictive – after watching one video I’ll see another video I want to watch in the suggested video list, and before you know it, an hour has passed. In videos, you can hear and sometimes see people speak, so you get more of a feel of their personalities; it feels like more of a personal connection. I also find it very entertaining to read the comments at the bottom of the videos, with so many people willing to be negative but refusing to identify themselves – the infamous internet trolls! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)) It astounds me what some people will actually say!
Blogs/websites are another of my favourite forms of listening. I have specific blogs that I refer to regularly. I usually use youTube in combination with blogs – if I see something interesting on a youTube video, I will visit that person’s blog or vice versa. I like blogs that include a lot of research – this is important to my professional development because once you find a site with trusted content on it, it becomes your ‘go-to’ site for accurate information. There are so many blogs now, that you need to find a valuable or enjoyable source for your information. I work in career advertising, so I enjoy visiting sites like charityvillage.ca, workopolis.com, monster.ca, etc., to see how the sites are set up and if there is anything new in how they’re presenting the information.
For me, my two best sources of news and updates are the Ottawa Citizen website and msn.ca. I visit both of these sites on a regular (usually daily) basis. The Ottawa Citizen delivers local and national news and msn.ca offers a collection of news, but also weird and unique articles from across the world. MSN is more of a fun tangent for me because I like the quirky videos and strange stories that the site sometimes has.
I have the most experience with (and have found great value in) using Netvibes as my main career-related listening tool. When combined with Google Analytics, it is easy to compile statistics related to my organization’s website and discover the viewing patterns of our site visitors. I was quite interested to note a distinct cycle of site visitors – most of our visitors look at our site on Mondays and Wednesdays, with medium volume on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with visits trickling off over the weekend. Our site visits are generally between 1:00 and 2:00 in the afternoon. This information helps us build a profile about our visitors and helps us to better time our advertising. It’s also interesting to use Netvibes to listen to what others are saying about our site, to respond to comments, and to use the information to improve our website.
After researching more listening tools recently, I believe that I will look into using Social Mention as well. But only if it’s fun. 😉

COM0015 – Blog #1: Tools and Sources

The question is what are my favourite tools and sources? That is an interesting question because I do not believe I have dabbled enough in the social media realm to have favourites or that I have many different ways to source out my news and updates.
And yes that would not make for a great blog on the topic for this course…but the fact remains that had I not actually done this series of courses I might never have heard about many of the tools I use today.
Let’s have a look at my listening/monitoring tools to start; Netvibes and Twitter are for now my favourite and really one might say my only tools. As you can see from my front page for Netvibes I do not track that many feeds at this point. It is still in its infancy for me as a user, but it will grow.

netvibes

courtesy netvibes.com

I do hope it sticks around however as I can see how this platform can be a useful tool for getting updates in one location. This will be an ideal place to track the two blogs for this course, in a separate tab of course, which will also get me to become a daily user.

Twitter I must admit is one social media endeavour I never saw myself using; I have surprised myself and while my following is small (is two small…) it is relative to how many I follow (12).

Twitter11

courtesy twitter.com

Like I mentioned this is really new to me and I am sure as I venture further out there I will grow my following in many different areas. May not sound like much but I do have 77 tweets since Feb ‘13; that is 77 more than I thought I would ever have in Jan ’13 and I think I like it.

News sources would also be relative to my interest, golf, and for the most part I still rely on email new letters from different web sites. Like some, I have what I would call my private email (home address) that I send my more ‘important’ updates or news from trusted sites. I also have my web mail service which receives my ‘spam’ news. This would be the more fluffy material that might not really matter if I just deleted the email before reading but when I have time I would still be interested. This is also the email server I use to avoid getting the real spam that might be associated with signing with a news letter service from a not so trusted site…

I use gmail through google.ca but another extremely popular one would be hotmail.ca and/or hotmail.com. A quick search will reveal many other web mail options.

Now you are asking yourself where is he going with this and how does it all fit together? Interestingly enough this series of courses (this being the last of five) is my professional development for my current employer; that however means little to my employer as social media is not a big part of what we do nor is the individual social media presence expected, from a work perspective. If I consider myself as my own organization than I have an extreme interest in all of these tools for my future retirement job; all of this information that I am gathering and the limited social presence is a small beginning of what will become a self-employed golf instructor. So far my social media strategy is on target (although I have let my blog post slide and I really need to get back to that as I was enjoying blogging), maybe I will even share my blog…

COM0015 Blog#1 Tool & Sources

Like ButtonOne of my favourite social media trend listening/monitoring tools as well as source for news and updates is Twitter, which I would not have guesses a year ago.  Let’s just say, that before I started the certificate program, I found the 140 character messages confusing.  Now I appreciate the simplicity of its search function and the easy access of information or the latest trends.  A number of times I had information available before it made the regular news channels and which made me look good in front of the client.

The second trend listening/monitoring tool I favour is Hootsuite.  I think it’s simplicity is great. I love having everything on one screen.  To me it is a great timesaver to be able to schedule, follow up and monitor conversations and it is  affordable. Having said that, I keep using a combination of Netvibes, Google Alerts  & Yahoo Pipes as well, since taking COM0013 because I want to be comfortable using those free tools as well.

My second favourite tool for news and updates are RSS feeds and Newsletters. I find myself reading them when I have a bit of downtime and often lead me to check out others. If the question would be to name 3 favourite tools, my third choice would be   podcast’s. There are many “brainless” work moments in my day, where I can easily listen and learn. Podcasts became a great source for updates in my day to day life.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

COM0015 Blog #1 | Tools and Sources to Help You Achieve Your Social Media Goals

20-social-media-iconsAnyone 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?

Image by GraphicsFuel