Are you listening? Businesses involved social media are actively seeking a relationship with their customers. Their ability to listen to conversations surrounding their brand is as important as the messages they’re sending out.
All healthy relationships require listening skills. Social media relationships are no different. So how do you listen in social media spaces? Here are four listening tools I recommend.
Twitter is a giant conversation and link sharing medium, but it can be difficult to monitor all those conversations from the Twitter.com website. The free desktop application Tweetdeck is a dashboard of all your social media accounts-Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Facebook, even MySpace. Tweetdeck allows you to monitor them all from one location. Download the desktop application, then add your accounts. Make the best use of the dashboard by also adding columns for your Twitter lists and for any Twitter searches you regularly perform. If you run a dental clinic you might search regularly for “tooth decay” for example. Add a search column for those keywords.
Remember to include your brand name in a search column so you’ll be aware of conversations happening about your brand outside your social circles. Doing so will help you grow your audience as well as intercede in any possible customer service issues you come across. Tweetdeck also allows you to look up profiles, follow new accounts, add accounts to lists and send out scheduled tweets. You can include any URL shorterner in the settings to further customize.
RSS feeds are alive and well and very useful for aggregating content. If you see an RSS symbol on any newsfeed, blog or publication you can subscribe to that feed and have the content come to you in any number of RSS readers. If you don’t have an RSS feed reader in Microsoft Outlook, for example, search for a free reader and download it to begin aggregating your feeds. Simply click the button to get the address of the feed, then add it to your reader to begin receiving automatic updates of your favorite blogs and news publications. Get in the habit of checking the feed reader daily for valuable content to share with your audience. To show you what an RSS feed looks like, my blog Carmine Media has an RSS feed that allows you to subscribe to both posts and comments.
With Google Alerts Google sends you keyword information in email format. For this you’ll need a Google account, so if you don’t already have one, sign up here. Once you’re logged into Google you can set up alerts for any keyword or combination of keywords you choose. You can set the alert to email you once per day in digest format, or as they happen. Make sure you set up an alert for your name and your brand name along with any other industry keywords you’ll use to curate content. You’ll receive a steady stream of news articles and websites in your email you can use to educate and inform your customers. You can also intervene when a negative mention of your brand appears.
NetVibes.Com is a web based dashboard that allows you to aggregate RSS feeds, Twitter searches, website bookmarks, Google searches and many other features all in one place. Once you’ve signed up for an account you can personalize your dashboard by adding feeds from any blogs or news publications you follow using their RSS feed, or use one of the hundreds of widgets to customize your dashboard. Here’s a screenshot of my NetVibes dashboard, which I refer to every day in order to find relevant articles about social media and web marketing. From here you can share the articles you find on Twitter and on your Facebook page.
These are only four of the dozens of listening tools available. Are there listening tools you’re using you’d like to recommend here? Leave a comment and share them with me!