I’m a huge proponent of professional listening as part of a business communication strategy. Lots of people will sell you ways to speak. They’ll give you lots of ways to get your message all over the place. Me? I’m passionate about listening as much as I am speaking. You know: two ears, one mouth, that stuff.
I love many of the professional products out there like Radian6, Techrigy, BuzzGain (just launched today!), and Crimson Hexagon to name just a few. But you know, there are ways to listen simply, and though they’re not perfect, they’re free.
I always recommend both. Use a professional platform to get the depth, the reporting, the other added value. But I recommend setting up a free listening station, too. Here’s a quick step by step to start that kind of station off. You might have more ideas for the comments section.
- Get a gmail account. – http://www.gmail.com
- Log in to Google Reader. This will become your home base for listening. Note the position of the “Add Subscriptions” button (mid top left) – http://www.google.com/reader
- Now, go to Google Blogsearch. Type in your query about your company, your organization, your competitors, and the like. We’ll use the results in the next step. – http://blogsearch.google.com.
- Note the “Subscribe” links on the bottom left of the page. Right-click the RSS link, and select copy.
- Go back to Google Reader, click Add Subscription, and select paste.
- Repeat this for as many variations of searches you want for blogs.
- UPDATE: I hear this feature is going away. You can do the same thing at IceRocket, if so, just do this step at Icerocket instead of Technorati. Go to Technorati. Perform the same queries there. Neither Google nor Technorati finds it all, so cross-posting works. – http://www.technorati.com
- Go to Twitter Search. Do the same. – http://search.twitter.com
- Fine tune your searches by seeing what inaccurate results come from your first attempts, and replace bad searches with better ones.
- Take the payload of all that raw searching and SORT it using Google Reader. By this, I mean the following: when you find something to note, either Share it (Shift S), or email it to a core team ( type E on the keyboard). Send only the important stuff. Then, let internal employees see the RSS feed of the shared items, or just use the email feature. Whichever works best. This is how you sort the larger pile of info into the smaller and more useful packets that your organization can consume.
- Most important to the process – DO something with what you’re learning. Figure out the business value of the listening you’re doing, and route it to the right places. Listening isn’t for marketers. It’s for the organization. It’s for customer service, for product management, for the senior team, etc.
In a nutshell, that’s the plan. You can do this. It’s not especially tricky (though the tuning can be challenging). My question to you: why wouldn’t you?
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