Listen First! Finding Networks and Connections in Social Media

by Amy Sample Ward on April 9, 2010

Notes from the 2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference for:

Who: Speakers: Susan Tenby | TechSoup Global; Janet Fouts; Kira Marchenese

What: An important part of your social media strategy should be listening for people and organizations who are talking about the issues you want to discuss.How do you know which networks will be most effective to reach your goals? Listen first and discover where the conversations are!

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Tools for listening:

Goodbyebuddy – find out when people aren’t listening to you any more. Learn what people want to hear.

Tweetdeck – add columns to listen and track conversations or watch mentions. Not just following mentions but also events – anything with hashtags, etc.

Google Alerts – remember that they aren’t always accurate or enough to find everything.

Mixed Reality events – conference going on in Second Life with a live streamed video into Second Life, it expands the audience exponentially. Conversations take place in both places separately and together.  Multi-channel conversations.

Flickr and YouTube – monitor and subscribe to activity around you, not just your own.

Lessons for Listening:

Don’t be afraid! Hold the reins: if you aren’t listening, paying attention, and diving in then the conversation can get so far away that you aren’t able to join in.  You can only have a real impact and “control” or influence over the public conversation about you, your organization or your programming if you are listening and engaging.

Where are the conversations?

  • Blogs
  • Linkedin
  • Forums
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Communities
  • Ning/Yahoo/Google

What to listen for:

  • brand
  • cxo names
  • sponsors and donors
  • supporters and evangelists
  • industry and local news
  • topics of corporate and/or personal interest

Find conversations quickly: check out Radian6, Biz360 and so on – a fairly expensive way to listen but comes with functionality to sort, track, etc.  Not about follower numbers, but about engagement and content.

Lazyfeed: use it for when you don’t have anything to say but want to say something. Set up keyword searches and it brings you relevant tweets and links. Allows you to be a thought-leader because you are on top of the conversations.

Twitter: even if you don’t want to engage on it, you need to be listening there. Set up alerts and so on.

Check out listening tools at: http://janetfouts.com/listen/

Listen, engage, repeat!

Follow #10ntc.listen on Twitter for links and conversation from this session.

  • http://www.sysomos.com Mark Evans

    Another good listening service is Sysomos’ Heartbeat. It’s a paid service but cost-effective and robust. Some more details are here: http://tynt.me/3Top

    cheers, Mark

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communications
    Sysomos Inc.

    • http://www.amysampleward.org Amy Sample Ward

      Thanks for adding in the resource, Mark!

  • http://www.synthesio.com Synthesio

    I don’t want to fill your comments with vendor comments, but Synthesio is another solution for agencies and brands looking for detailed analyses and report (in 30 languages- something you’ll appreciate having moved from the US to the UK, I think!).
    Couldn’t agree with you more, too, that it’s not about the numbers, but the engagement and content.
    We always say : listen, analyze, engage, repeat ;)`

    Are you in touch with Drew Ellis and the LikeMinds group, by any chance? They’re always having events in London :)

    Best,
    Michelle @Synthesio

    • http://www.amysampleward.org Amy Sample Ward

      Thanks for adding in and suggesting the resource, Michelle! I really appreciate it.

      I am familiar with the LikeMinds group but only peripherally; haven’t gone to anything yet – I’ll be more proactive about checking it out though!

      Thanks again

  • http://ci.biz360.com Maria Ogneva

    Hi Amy,

    Thanks for the Biz360 shoutout!

    Great list of keywords to listen to. I would also add names of competitive companies and products to the list. Social media listening is very helpful in competitive intelligence. I would also recommend listening for intent: i.e. “I’m looking for a (xyz type product)” or “Any recommendations on (xyz type product)?” – this can help you uncover prospects with whom you can engage.

    Cheers!

    – Maria Ogneva, Biz360
    @themaria @biz360

    • http://www.amysampleward.org Amy Sample Ward

      Thanks, Maria – great additions! I definitely agree with you. These were just notes from the presentation, and not a comprehensive blog post of my thoughts so appreciate you taking the time to add more ideas in!

  • http://www.handsonblog.org Jessica Kirkwood

    Amy,

    At SXSW someone I met told me about Spredfast – it’s a listening tool like a Radian 6, but far less expensive. I’ve been working with a demo account and am super impressed with the analytics piece especially. (No more spreadsheets!) I still use Tweetdeck to listen, but I often post through spredfast because it aggregates activity, reach and engagement across all channels.

    Best,
    Jessica

    • http://www.amysampleward.org Amy Sample Ward

      Thanks, Jessica, for sharing your experience with Spredfast! There are a few different tools for analytics and I’ll be doing a webinar on listening next week. I’ll be sure to post the slides and notes as usual and will include some of the other tools.

      Really appreciate you sharing back!

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