listening and monitoring

Listening and monitoring is a challenge that every digital comms person must face when running a social account. Here are some thoughts...

by Simon Booth-Lucking

We sponsored and attended CommsCamp, an unconference for public sector communicators.

We had a great time and you can read plenty about what other people had to say about it in this round-up of CommsCamp.

We ran a session on Listening and Monitoring in Social Media that was pretty well received so here are the slides and notes for you and anyone who was there.

  1. This is a taster class from our Social Media School. It’s all about how to listen and monitor in social media using cheap tools and a few simple techniques
  2. And a lot of those techniques we can learn from internet dating
  3. Except we’re going to be very promiscuos, we’re trying to meet a lot of people in order to find our true loves
  4. So here’s the structure for the class
  5. Let’s start with a bit of planning first; although many of the tools are free your time isn’t so we need to have a plan so we’re making good use of our time
  6. Here’s the suggested elements of a strategy. A key point to remember is the optimisation – this will be an iterative process; you won’t get it right first time. So plan to review and improve as you go
  7. There are a whole bunch of reasons you might want to listen and monitor. If your organisation is just getting started with social media then it’s a great low-risk way of dipping your toe in the water because you can just listen without having to say anything
  8. I love lonely hearts ads and here’s a fine example. With such a small space to express your desires the writer has to really think carefully about the signals they’re putting out and who they’re trying to attract. We can take inspiration when it comes to finding our true love in listening and monitoring
  9. So, write your lonely hearts advert for the people you’re trying to find in social media. Think about:
    1. Who are they, how can we identify them in the crowd?
    2. What are their passions and interests? What do they talk about and how do they talk about it? This is critical – we don’t want to end up with nothing to say on that first date
    3. What are your passions and interests? What do you want to talk to them about?
  10. This is all really a way to think about the building blocks of your listening and monitoring: keywords. The lonely hearts advert exercise was quite quick but in reality you may spend a whole day coming up with a long list of possible keywords to start with. To speed that process up, and to find better keywords, we can borrow some techniques from search engine marketing
  11. Google Trends is a free tool that gives us access to all the data that Google has on what we search for and, therefore, what we’re interested in. It’s real strength is comparing the interest in different topics and seeing how that interest changes over time. Here’s an example showing the relative interest in Eastenders and Coronation Street over the last 12 months. We can use Google Trends to test our keywords to see if there is any interest in them or whether there are alternative keywords we should be using instead
  12. This is Google AdWords keyword tool. It can do similar things to Google Insights except it can also give us an absolute number of searches, e.g. 800,000 searches for Coronation Street last month. The aim of using these tools is tocome up with a shortlist of keywords that you think is a good match for the kind of language used by your target audience in social media
  13. Now we’ve done our keywords it’s time to head out on some first dates. We need to think speed dating here; we need to get through a lot of people and quickly decide whether they’re worth a second date
  14. The most useful tool for our speed dating is search engines. Everyone is familiar with Google but not everyone knows that you can filter results to focus on social media such as Blogs and Discussions (e.g. Mumsnet, Money Saving Expert)
  15. We can also use social search engines like Topsy and Social Mention that focus solely on social content. These are useful because they help us find out where conversations are happening, for example it may be clustered around a particular news story that people are sharing. Remember, we need to work fast so scan results quickly in order to:
    1. Validate your keywords. Are you finding the kind of conversations and people you hoped to find?
    2. Learn where the conversations happen
    3. Get a quick sense of sentiment around your chosen topic
  16. Remember to check out the advanced search options as this can really save time
  17. If things go well you should be starting to build up a shortlist of people who regularly talk about the things that are of interest to you. If you’re not finding what you hoped for you may need to revise your lonely hearts advert. A particular challenge can be finding local conversations so you may need to think laterally e.g. local places, famous local people
  18. Now it’s time to do a bit of background research on your shortlist. Influence is a hot topic in social media as we may want to save time by only listening to influential people, however the methods for measuring this are still in their infancy
  19. Part of the problem is how do we define influence in a way that computers can understand
  20. Services like Klout are trying to crack this by giving people an influence score out of 100 based on their use of social media. Klout divides opinion so give it a go but be aware of the various downsides
  21. And here’s PeerIndex, which does a similar thing
  22. If you’re trying to do a background check on a blog then take a look at Alexa instead
  23. Remember though that your best tool remains your brain, which has been developed over millennia to ascertain who’s influential. Ernest Hemingway once said that “every man needs to have an internal crap detector” – all the more vital today
  24. Hopefully things go well and you’ve built up a list of keywords and people who are just what you’re looking for. Now we need to turn this into a resource that you can get value from every day
  25. If your keywords worked really well you might want to use Google Alerts to receive regular email updates every time Google finds new content that matches the keywords you give it
  26. If you want to monitor lots of different sources you may want to consider a dashboard such as Netvibes. Simply enter your keywords, select your sources and you can create a single page that pulls it all together rather than having to go from place to place
  27. If you’re a Twitter fan then Tweetdeck might be for you. Tweetdeck is very good at helping you focus on particular relevant Twitter content. For example, you can create a stream of people related to a particular topic or a stream of results based on a keyword or hashtag
  28. Hootsuite does a similar job and also allows you to create multiple tabs, so really useful if you need to keep an eye on lots of different topics and people
  29. Lastly, it’s worth thinking about a process for deciding when you’ll engagewith all these people you’re listening to. It will save you a lot of time and help make things consistent if you’re working in a team
  30. Thanks very much. This was just a taster so please go take a look at the full Social Media School




Simon Booth-Lucking is director at Claremont Comms.
Print Friendly and PDF