A Great Social Media Trick? Listening

One of the greatest uses of social media and online life is the ability to listen. Yes, no kidding — listen.

I know, I know…there’s a lot of monologues going on out there. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are lots of opportunities to:

  • Stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your industry
  • Hear about what clients and competitors are doing
  • Find out what’s being said about you and your company (the good, bad, and ugly)
  • Keep your ear to the ground for the next “it” thing
  • Get news first (online news of Steve Jobs’ passing beat traditional media by over an hour on the West Coast, by even longer for media in other time zones who had to wait for the 11 o’clock or morning broadcasts)
  • Receive first-hand information about news items (e.g. the Arab Spring, Japanese Earthquake, and much more)

There are many ways to get listening. Here are five:

  1. Follow the Key Players: Choose 20-30 people who are “in the know” and follow their Twitter stream.
  2. Twitter Lists: I like to check out other people’s well curated lists rather than painstakingly build my own. How does one find these? Well, you can look for lists on accounts of those you think may have built one or you can go to Listorius.com and search for them using keywords. What’s a Twitter List??
  3. HootSuite Filters: Hootsuite lets you build continuous searches for keywords. That means that it’s always looking in your choice of program (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, of course, but also mixi and PingFM) for those words and streaming the results in real time. Pretty clever, huh? Keywords can be a company name, an industry, or anything else you’d like.
  4. Google Alerts: These are brilliant. Google scans its index for new mentions of your keywords each day and sends you an email. That’s it. Brilliant. More on Alerts.
  5. RSS Feeds: Build a stream of blog posts so you don’t have to visit individual sites everyday. You just log into your reader (Google offers one, Outlook 2007/2010 have one built in, the Firefox browser has one), scan through to find interesting headlines and read the blog articles that entice you. More on RSS

Do you find this overwhelming?

Don’t worry. Start with Google Alerts — they’re easy to set up, they arrive in your email at whatever interval you choose, and they link to information that you can either read right away, save for later, or ignore. This article gives step-by-step instructions.

Use Social Media without Saying a Word

It’s true. You can use social media for listening and never send out a Tweet, a Facebook update, or even fill in your LinkedIn profile. That’s the beauty — you get to choose how deep you go. However, if you do engage in the talking bit too, think how much more interesting your interactions will be if you listen and engage in conversations rather than just send information into the cyber-world. This is, after all, they type of behaviour that build relationships, trust, and networks.