In last weeks post, we explored the life of the party between broadcast and social mediums, discovering that you cannot do one within the context of the other. Most importantly, social listening was discussed as it pertains to your interactions with others: clients, future or prospective clients, industry partners, etc. This week, we’ll discuss some tools to do just that: listen. Like improv theater, you must be ready at any time to roll with the story line, and interact with the audience as they dictate. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t hear what they may be saying, even though you can be sure they are saying things. For instance, I had a circumstance arise in a restaurant I manage, where the customer complained about the wait time and service on Twitter. As we chatted back and forth, I was able to offer something as recompense for the service he received. The quality of the food is incredible, so it helped assuage the pain of waiting. However, if I hadn’t been able to attend to his complaint and interact with him, it could have turned into an unhappy customer who never returned, telling his friends to stay away. Instead, he raved about the food when he got it, and has been back several times since!
Social Listening: Learning Your Lines
Here’s a short list of methods and tools that you can employ to find out what folks are saying. This gives you the ability to learn how to take care of folks concerns, avoid a PR debacle, and offer content they’ll value. More importantly, you can offer a transparent, human side of your organization.
1. Comments on your posts.
If you’re already using social media, this is the direct manner with which to hear what others are saying about you, to you, to others, etc. How are they engaging with your content? Is it positive, negative, or neutral? Are they engaging with you? This is key as well: no engagement may mean that your content is missing your audience. Have you thought about your strategy and tactics to meet your clients or prospective clients needs? What value can you offer, both in about your industry and your products/services?
Twitter has rolled out their own analytics platform that is available to anyone, literally. Even if you’re a personal user and want to see what kinds of things people are resonating with, you have free access to these numbers. Likewise for businesses and organizations, these numbers will can provide perspective on what things are working, and what isn’t. Although we talk a great deal about relationships, the numbers offer some concrete feedback for social listening about what content is connecting, and what isn’t. Time of day, topics of interest, demographics of followers, etc. can be seen with these numbers. You’ll see the “Analtyics” choice in the top of your account menu, and you can see “Timeline Activity” and “Followers”.
3. Facebook Insights.
Facebook has compiled quite a bit of data for individuals and organizations on their pages. You can see: fan demographics like age, gender, geography, languages spoken, etc.; your reach (how many people see your content); where they are engaging your content from, such as mobile, web, from someone else’s activity with you, etc. Like the Twitter numbers above, this gives you some quantitative measurement for your qualitative efforts. Do you need to post in Spanish? Do you have a greater number of 45-54 year old men who like your page, but your health care services primarily serve 18-24 year old women? (Note: Facebook is rolling out a new Insights format, so this may look different than your version. They’re similar enough for our efforts here.)
4. Agorapulse Barometer.
Agorapulse offers analytics tools for all of Facebook. I offer this as a little side opportunity to see how your page may be comparing to others on Facebook. Once you link your account, any page you have administrative privileges to will be benchmarked and temporarily added to their database. You can then gauge how you’re doing alongside other pages with a similar size fan base. They have both free and paid features. A word of caution: do not fall into the comparison trap here! All pages are different, and this only serves to help you listen. The graphs that compare your page to others reveal Facebook-wide trends of activity, and reveal days/seasons where activity fluctuates across the platform.
Finding a tool to learn about how your clients interact online may be the next logical step for you. Social Mention is a free service created by Jon Cianciullo. You can search out industry terms, hashtag’ed or not, company names, individuals and leaders, etc. It’s a great tool for getting a broader sense of your organization or what’s happening in your industry. Social mention is savvy enough to get sentiment and affect around the terms as well. So if you do a search on the Tour de France, you might see a more diverse spread on sentiment that what’s found in this screen shot, if blood doping and enhancement drugs are in the news. This may be a good alternative to Google Alerts, which may be falling victim to the Google Reader demise due to lack of reliability and Google’s attention to it.
6. Third Party Applications.
Third party apps are arguably one of the best ways to do active social listening. There are quite a few, which range in features, analytics capabilities, supported social media platforms, and functionality. Here’s a list of just several of many: Buffer, Radian6 (a very powerful one), SocialBro, and Sprout Social. They vary in price, and some have a free version or trial period to test them out. There’s also a variance in what they offer in listening: I use the free Buffer version for some personal accounts, but the only listening I can do is direct engagement with my content. Sprout Social will actually find web mentions and social mentions, bringing them right to your dashboard.
Hootsuite is the one I use. They have both a free version and a paid version ($9 monthly), and both offer quite a few robust tools. You can set up any number of searches for keywords, hashtags, company names/handles (or misspellings, there are many searches you could make), etc. to listen to whomever you’d like. Once I employed this technique, my ability to catch conversations from clients and our industries of interest skyrocketed. You can also do searches on other platforms for key words, but your results will be limited by privacy settings. For instance, if you search Facebook for the keywords “Thomas Jefferson”, only those who have their post privacy set to “Public” will appear.
In summary, find ways to listen to your fans, followers, and clients. Broadcasting content isn’t of value to anyone, if it’s not of interest. And, it’s about the conversation and ability to interact with them in the marketplace. Have you had some success stories or learning examples? Tell us the story in the comments…