external image 6a0111684a37c4970c0115724d761e970b-piCreating a Social Media Listening Dashboard: Monitoring What People Are Saying

Did you know that people may be talking about you online and you may not even realize it?

From blogs to message boards to Facebook and Twitter, people are having conversations about their experiences and your program or organization may be one of the things they're discussing. Or worse yet, maybe they AREN'T talking about you online. Which means that you have some work to do to get your message out.
How can you find out out? By setting up a social media listening dashboard. In this webinar, we're going to look at how to set up a social media listening dashboard and how you can use your listening skills to find and participate in the social media conversation.

Webinar Objectives:

  • Define "social media listening"
  • Discuss why social media listening is important
  • Identify key social media listening tools and strategies
  • Learn how to set up a "social media listening dashboard"
  • Identify strategies for managing your listening workflow

The Webinar Recording

PDF of webinar slides is available for download and viewing here.

You can access the recorded webinar here. Please feel free to distribute to your colleagues and partners!

Setting Up a Listening Dashboard: Using Social Media to Find Out What People are Saying from Kate Lomax on Vimeo.

During the webinar, we mentioned:

What Do We Mean by "Social Media Listening?"

Increasingly, conversations are happening online--through blogs, social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and in private topic-oriented networks like those you can set up on Ning. Most news is now online, as are tons of videos and photos.

Social media listening is the process of engaging with this information--finding out what people are saying online and responding to it.

Why is Listening Important?

For organizations, tapping into this treasure trove of information can serve a number of purposes:
  • Information to improve programs and services and identify problems and misconceptions
  • Access to groups that are already gathered online and who may support or be interested in your cause, event or program
  • Data and trends to help you see where things may be going for the future
  • Reputation management opportunities--you can know what people are saying about you and do something to respond
  • Professional development resources and materials--often for free!

Ultimately, social media listening is about new opportunities--opportunities to expand your influence, respond to issues and problems, provide new and better services and engage in conversations with people who are interested in what you do.

Nonprofit Examples of How Listening Returns Value - from Beth Kanter

Listening in Action

Here are a couple of searches on "Job Corps." What would you do with this information?

If you do a search on "Job Corps" on YouTube, this is what comes up on the first page--the third and fourth videos are fights that were recorded on Center.


And on Twitter, here's someone asking about Job Corps.


Also, read this article to see how an audience revolt occurred through social media at the Higher Education Conference last week.

The Listening Process

  1. Getting Ready to Listen
  2. Listening Literacy
  3. Listening Tools
  4. Setting Up Your Social Media Dashboard
  5. Managing and Responding to What You Hear

external image globnetwork_laptops.jpgGetting Ready to Listen

Before you start listening, you need to think through why you're listening and what you want to find out. You need to develop an initial listening plan.

You can start to frame your questions in terms of understanding the 5 W's of Social Media Listening You'll want to define what you want to have happen for each category and then look to see what is actually happening.
  • WHO do you want talking about you, your organization, your programs and services? What are they actually saying? Look not only for random comments, but for whether or not people are influencers. Are they bloggers? Then do they have an active commenting community? Are they on Twitter? How many people are following the? How many people are their friends on Facebook? Who do you want to have talking about you?
  • WHAT do you want them to say? What are they actually saying? Are people only talking about you in passing or are they having extended, passionate discussions about your organization, a program, service, event or staff person?
  • WHERE do you want them to talk about you? Where are they actually having discussions? Generally you won't be able to control where people are talking about you. This is a "W" where it's better to find out where people are so you can engage them in their communities. Remember, it is much easier to join a conversation than to create and nurture one.
  • WHEN do you want them to talk about you? When are they actually talking about you? Is it in response to an event? If so, how do you keep the conversation going after the event is over? How could you maintain engagement?
  • WHY do you want them to talk about you? Why are they actually talking about you? This is a question that you may be able to answer based on your listening strategies, but it may also require you to ask more questions and to engage the people you want to know more from. Keep in mind that NO discussion may be worse than a negative discussion.

Some Specific Questions
  • Are there negative issues/complaints that we need to correct?
  • Is there an articulated need that we can help fulfill?
  • Are there events or activities that are happening that we should try to connect to?
  • Are there insights we can gather than can help us improve a program or service?
  • What do they like or dislike about our program or service?
  • What ideas might they offer for new services or marketing/fundraising campaigns?
  • Who are the influential voices in the social media space covering our issue area or topical domain?
  • What communities have already formed on social media outposts around our organization, issue, or topic area? Does it make sense for us to maintain a presence there?

Also check out 12 Reputations Every Company Should Listen for Online for additional ideas/questions and this post on what to listen for and how to get the most from your listening.

How Will You Use the Information?

It is important to link your listening to actual decisions or action. You will want to consider what information it is that you want to gather and then what you think you want to do with it. Take a look at this presentation to see some ways that you can use the information you get from social media listening.

Developing Your Listening Literacy Skills

There are some key social media listening skills you will need to develop. Beth Kanter of Beth's Blog has identified four core skills:

Picture_2.pngKeywords Are King

Develop your skills in composing and refining your keyword searches. Search for:
  • Organization name
  • Program, services, and event names
  • Staff names associated with your programs, services and events
  • Well-known personalities and authorities associated with your organization and/or issues
  • Other organizations with similar program names and organizations that do similar work
  • URLs for your blog, web site, online community
  • Industry terms or other phrases

Try using the Google WonderWheel as a tool to suggest keywords. (See the image above) You start with one word and it suggests a number of others in a visualization that you can use to drill down deeper into the words you may want to research. Here's an article that describes how to use it.

You can also use Google's KeyWord Tool to help you get suggestions for additional keywords to use. Try having it search your site or other websites of interest to do an analysis and suggestion for keywords.

Finally brush up on your search skills--here's a tutorialon boolean searches so you can get more relevant and focused results.

external image 3313582289_6963d91662.jpgSeeing the Forest Through The Trees

Don't just look for individual items related to your keyword searches. Also start looking for patterns in the information.
  • What words and themes keep coming up?
  • Where are the sources of the most comment and discussion? Are you getting the most information from certain blogs? From Twitter? On Facebook? From specific Ning networks?
  • What are people's concerns?
  • What are people excited about?

A KEY pattern to look for--No one is talking about you!
Don't think that if you're invisible online that's a good thing. It's not. Look at our previous webinar, Introduction to Social Media, for some stats on how many people are online. It's just about everyone. If they aren't talking about you, your programs or events, that just means that you're either invisible, or not outstanding enough to be worth discussing. Neither one of these options is good news.

Here's an example of how Beth Kanter looked for patterns in the tweets of 90 foundations that are on Twitter. It gives you an idea of how this works. Here are a few more great articles from Beth:

Engaging Effectively

Social media listening is about engaging in a conversation, so you also need to develop your skills in responding to what you discover:
  • Respond to what you hear - comment back on a blog, retweet, etc.
  • Ask questions to clarify
  • Share information and links to answer questions
  • Help people find information they're looking for
  • Refer to services or programs

Check out this presentationon managing your online reputation to get some specific ideas on how to engage effectively around problems and issues.

Information Coping Skills

Effective listening means separating out the "noise":
  • Avoid using generic keywords - that just increases the noise
  • Use RSS to manage the information coming in
  • Assign staff to manage this who are comfortable managing information and using social media (often younger staff are able to do this well)
  • If you choose to use email to find out about new information, get Gmail and learn how to use filters.
  • Get comfortable with not knowing/following EVERYTHING. Once you start listening, you can get sucked into worrying that you'll miss something. You will. But if it's good enough or important enough, it tends to rise to the surface.

The social media dashboard we're covering in the next section is going to be a great tool for managing overload.

Your Listening Toolbox

1. Google Alerts--The Most Basic Tool

Everyone knows how to use Google search. With Google Alerts, you can have Google keyword searches delivered directly to your email inbox without having to constantly run new searches. It's a way to automate your searches so that whenever new content is added online you are automatically notified. You can select the keywords to search on, what types of materials you want to be searched and how often you want the results delivered to your email. (Check out Tim Davies' Google Alerts resource page)
Good keywords to search on are:
  • Your organization's name
  • Event or program names
  • Names of key people in your organization and in your field
  • Keywords related to your field (i.e., "youth," "disadvantaged youth," "STEM,")
  • Keywords related to areas of professional interest (i.e., "career," "job search," "internships")

Setting Up a Google Alert

  1. Set up your search term
  2. Pick the type of Alert you want to use.
  3. Decide how often to receive the Alert
  4. Manage your Alerts

external image rss-icon.jpg2. RSS: "Read Me Some Stories"

RSS or "Real Simple Syndication" a way to subscribe to a source of information, such as a blog, website, news site, etc. and get brief updates delivered to you. These sources are called feeds. When you subscribe, you'll get a feed -- often a series of headlines and brief summaries -- of all the articles published on that particular Web page. This lets you scan the articles on the page more efficiently. Instead of visiting multiple sites to find out if new content has been added, you visit one site (called your "Feed Reader" or "Feed Aggregator") where you can scan to see if new information is on the site and, if so, whether or not you want to read further. RSS is what lets you subscribe to your favorite TV on i-Tunes so that it automatically downloads for you each week. RSS is what CCN uses to add new headlines to their site. It's the technology that lets you control what information you want to get and makes sure that you get the information that you need.

Understanding RSS

How RSS Works
How to Explain RSS the Oprah Way
30 Different Uses for RSS

Reading Your Feeds

Just as you need an email program like "Outlook" to send and receive emails, in order to read your feeds you need a special program called a "Feed Reader" or a "Feed Aggregator." A popular tool that many people use is Google Reader. But to give us the listening dashboard look and functionality we'd like, we're going to use a free tool called Netvibes

More RSS Resources

RSS for Educators Wiki

Setting Up Your Listening Dashboard

1. Set up your Netvibes Account

(use this 1-page intro to Netvibes). Here are some additional resources:

2. Start looking for feeds and adding them to your dashboard

These tools will get you started.

  • Twitter Search
    There are some fantastic advanced search commands you can use with Twitter's search engine. From simple brand related searches to local phrases, Twitter Search can do it all.
  • IceRocket
    Good blog search engine.
  • Technorati
    Another good blog search engine.
  • Blogpulse
    Blog search from Nielsen.
  • Google News
    Track news stories and more.
  • BoardTracker
    Forum search engine, useful for tracking forum conversations.
  • Facebook Lexicon
    See how often people are mentioning you or your brand.
  • Google Analytics
    You may not think of Google Analytics when you think of social media, but you should be. With Google Analytics, you can track referrals to your website from the social media platforms you're using.
  • Google Trends
    See what's trending on the web.
  • Delicious Search
    See how many times pages from your site have been bookmarked by others. You can also look for "tags" ( Definition of tags) that are related to topics that interest you. You can then sign up for the feed to that tag by scrolling to the bottom of the tags you want to follow and clicking on "RSS Feed for These Bookmarks."
  • Digg Search
    Much like Delicious, you can see how many times pages have been Dugg by others.
  • Google Blog Search
    Blog search engine from Google. (none of the blog search engines are perfect, so it's a good idea to get a mix of data and parse it yourself)
  • TwitterCounter
    Get a rough idea of your Twitter reach.
  • BackType
    Monitor blog comments.
  • Social Mention
    Decent search aggregation for various sources, from blogs to social sites.
  • Best Tools to Do Ego Searching and Find Out Who Is Talking About Me
  • LazyFeed--good way to follow topics that interest you and discover new blogs.

external image rss-icon.jpg

3. As you surf the web, look for the RSS icon so when you find great blogs and other resources you can add them to your dashboard.

Where ever you see content that is updated on a regular basis, look for the RSS icon above to see if you can subscribe to it on your dashboard. For example, you can subscribe to:
  • The discussions on Ning Networks--here's the RSS feedto the discussions taking place on the PA RCEP Network.
  • Any blog or news site that interests you. On news sites, you can often subscribe to particular categories. This is something you can do on some blogs, too.
  • LinkedIn Network Feeds--you can follow the activities of the people in your LinkedIn Network.
  • LinkedIn Answers Topic Feeds--LinkedIn has an "Answers" feature where people ask and answer questions in a number of categories. You can subscribe to feeds in the topic areas that interest you to see what people are discussing about in that topic area. Also a way for you to find out if there's a question you could answer.

Managing Your Listening Workflow

1. Develop a Plan

There are many issues to consider in developing your internal listening processes, including:
  • Who in the organization will do the listening?
  • Who is empowered to do the responding?
  • What is your policy about responding?
  • Do you have to respond to every comment?
  • How much time will you allocate to listening every day?
  • How will you share the information with your team?
  • Not everyone has to do the deep dive or heavy lifting, so how will you organize your team effort?
  • How will you analyze the results of what you heard, find patterns, and share insights?
  • How will you know if listening has been useful?

Also check out: 25 Questions to Make Your Social Media Workflow Work for You

2. Start Small

From Beth Kanter, try one of these starter projects

1. Easy Listening: Twitter listening project - set up an account, identify a couple of people, ask them where others are. Ask questions or dip in.

2. Finding, Reading, and Commenting on Blogs

3. Power Listening: Identifying the influential voices on the social web talking about your issue or program area.

4. Ego Listening: Ego systems -- who's mentioning your organization or program specifically.

3. Think in Keyword Stages

Think about starting your listening in stages (from the NTEN Blog)

Ego Stage -- you first want to see who's talking about you and what they're saying. Keywords include the names and acronyms for your organization, products, publications and events. You might also search on the names of your speakers, authors, officers and executive director.
Benchmark Stage -- now you're ready to see how you compare. New keywords include the names, products, publications and events of your competitors and other industry leaders. At this stage, you can start benchmarking your online engagement and PR efforts and reporting results to your leadership.
Pulse Stage -- you've identified the most influential talkers and now you're researching and gathering intelligence about the topics that interest them most. New keywords include timely industry issues. At this stage, you can start to identify industry trends and potential revenue opportunities for the organization.

Where Will You Go Next?

1. Set up Google Alerts for your organization, key topics, stakeholders, etc.
2. Set up a Netvibes account and add a few blogs and other RSS feeds to your feed reader.
3. Find and monitor some LinkedIn Questions and Answers. If you're feeling really adventurous, respond to a few. Or ask a question of your own.


Beth Kanter's Social Media Listening Wiki
4 Methods and 40 Free Tools for Listening--Part Oneand Part Two
Using RSS Tools to Feed Your Information Needs
A Quick and Dirty Guide to Setting Up Social Media Monitoring
How to Search the Social Web Ultimate Toolkit
Listen, Learn, Adapt Slideshare Presentation
The Social Media Team Listening Toolkit
Social Media Listening Literacy for Nonprofits
Shut Up and Listen on the Internet - Organizations needs to learn how to listen, especially in this socially-networked world made smaller by the web.
Listening Track on We Are Media
Make Your Nonprofit More Effective with RSS Aggregation