Are You Listening or Just Making Noise?

When a room full of social media users were asked about their listening experiences, one word emerged – overwhelmed.

“But real-time monitoring and getting a response out within an hour can be more important than the meeting you are supposed to attend,” said Chris Abraham, president and founding partner of Abraham & Harrison, a company that offers a menu of services to build a company’s online presence.

 He and others were discussing the importance of monitoring social media, or listening, as part of the NonProfit 2.0 Unconference recently.

Beth Kanter, author of “Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media” and co-author of “The Networked Nonprofit,” summarized core competencies around listening.

1)      Key words are king

2)      See the broad themes

3)      Use for workflow to engage externally and internally

4)      Develop information coping skills

One thing that Wendy Harman, social media manager for the American Red Cross, does is compile the 16 to 20 meatiest comments each day and sends widely as an email. She notes that this keeps everyone informed and shows the reach of social media.

The real question, Harman says, “Is what do we do with the content coming and how do we use it?”

“Misinformation – that’s where the listening comes in,” Harman adds. “I’m like a stalker. I need to be able to find people who are misinformed and reach out to them right away.”

The key is to provide them with the facts, Harman says.

Tools for listening are many and range from free to several hundred dollars a month. Tools used by the group include:

  • Technorati
  • Google Alerts
  • SM2
  • Twitter Search
  • Radian 6
  • Social Mention (it will search all of Facebook)
  • Addictomatic (creates a dashboard, but it’s busy)
  • How Sociable
  • Back Type (searches through blog posts)
  • Social Ping
  • Thrive/Small Act

Types of listening include, listening in real time, listening as research, listening for impact (ROI). That’s a lot of listening. But when the group was asked how much time they spent listening, most said, “Not enough.”

Beth recommended carving out 15 to 20 minutes each day or blocking an hour of your schedule on Friday.

If you want to learn more about how to be a good listener, Beth has a great presentation on the topic.

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