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Creating a Social Networking Plan: Listening Tools

September 6, 2010

The Importance of ListeningChoosing Your Tools:

In Friday’s post I covered how we can break down our social media efforts into three activities: Listening, Creating or Communicating. Today I wanted to take a look at some of the most popular online sites, platforms and services, helping you creating a toolbox of resources to accomplish each activity. Let’s take a look at Listening Tools:

Listening Tools:

Listening Stations: Listening stations are a centralized online site or program that help you collate all the streams of information you need to ‘listen’ to in one spot. There are sometimes also referred to as Readers. Instead of surfing the net, and trying to sort through the mass of irrelevant information, you choose what you want to read, subscribe and it’s delivered to your station or feeder.

If you have a Google mail account (gmail account), you can use the Google Reader Service.  It’s easy to use, you can add a new subscription directly within Google Reader using the search option, and it also provides you with suggestions for new subscriptions based on your existing ones.  When you are logged into your account, look for the link ‘Reader’ in the upper left hand side of the page.

Some of the other most popular listening station sites include: Radian6, Techrigy, BuzzGain and Crimson Hexagon.

Once you have chosen your Station/Reeder, you need to populate it (add to it) with the information you specifically need.  This is achieved via RSS.  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.  Most blogs encourage you to subscribe to their news feed by displaying a RSS button; alternatively the RSS symbol is featured on the right side of your web-browser address bar.  Click either button to subscribe. When you subscribe to a blog you are presented with options as to how you would like this information delivered to you.  You can choose to have updates appear in a designated inbox, or to your listening station account/Reeder. As well as private blogs from professionals and colleagues within your industry, subscribe to newsletters and to professional industry publications (such as Variety, Backstage, etc).

GoogleAlerts is another listening tool. You can set alerts that will notify you when a search term you specify appears in news stories, blogs, or comprehensively across the net.  You can dictate how you receive the alerts (via email or a reader), and how often you receive them (as it happens, daily, etc).

Use this tool to track mentions of you (known as ‘Ego Surfing’!), your audience and your industry and to notify you when a new site adds a link to your blog/site. (Also referred to as an ‘in-bound link’.) Here are some nifty terms to add to your Google Alerts list:

Use this to track when a new website links to your blog:

link:myblogname.com [type: blog, Frequency: as it happens]

Use this to track when a new website links to your site:

link:mysitename.com [type: web, Frequency: as it happens]

Use this to track news publications in US that are quoting me:

“John Smith” OR “Smith John” location:US [type:news]

And if you want to know more about listening, I can’t recommend enough this article by Social Media Guru Chris Brogan’s Grow Bigger Ears.

Tomorrow we’ll look at tools to help Create and Communicate.

Until then – Keep sharing!

“Those who have much are often greedy, those who have little always share.”

Oscar Wilde

Image by spotxox via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

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