Photo by Andy Field
I think Chris Brogan said that the secret to Twitter is listening (or search), not blasting your message out. I'm paraphrasing. The other day a commenter asked me if I could write something that offered some practical how to listening tips as well as applying it.
I'm starting with Twitter (don't know what Twitter is? Check out this good primer from the Wall Street Journal hat tip Norman) and you're still on the fence about the value of Twitter for nonprofits, see Peter Campbell's post, "Why We Twitter"
PAUSE: Before you leap in there, strategic first!
What do you need to listen for and why?
- How do your supporters (and potential supporters) view your organization? Is it positive or negative?
- What are they saying about your organization?
- What do they think about your issue area?
- What do they like or dislike about your program or service?
- How are their preferences changing?
- How are technologies and social trends impacting your supporters?
- What ideas might they offer for new services or marketing/fundraising campaigns?
- How is the conversation around your organization, issue area, or program changing?
- Who are the influential voices in the social media space covering your issue area or topical domain?
List Five Ways You Plan To Use the Information
- Who in the organization will do the listening?
- How will you share the information?
- Not everyone has to do the deep dive or heavy lifting, how will you organize your team effort?
- How will you share the results of what you heard?
Social Listening Literacy Skills
- Are you currently using RSS Reader? If so, what reader? How many feeds?
- Are you currently on Twitter?
- Do you know how to scan information quickly and pick out patterns.
Now, let's start building a listening post on Twitter:
Step 1: Sign Up
- Sign up for a free account and fill out your profile by adding an image and one-line bio and include a link to your site.
- You can read on the web or send messages to your phone or IM client. Decide what works best for your working style.
- You can "protect your updates" or "open." Pros/cons to each.
- Decide whether you want an organizational account or individual account.
- Share the workload - should not just be one person. Listening on Twitter can take 5 or ten minutes of your day each day.
Step 2: Your Profile Design
Step 3: What will you twitter about?
This is a listening project and you'll be "searching" as well as participating. Use Twitter Search or one of the other Twitter search clients. Start typing in keywords related to your listening goals. Can't visualize that? Read this story by the American Stroke Association.
Listen before you start talking on Twitter. Here's a basic list of what to twitter.
Step 4: Find People
Start with a couple of people who you know or who represent the group of people you want to listen to. You can try searching for people twitter. Here's a few ideas to get started.
People who attended TED
Twitter Packs - Nonprofits
Nonprofit Pulse just created a mashup
You can also search on different terms using Tweetscan here's Philanthropy
Mr. Tweet finds influencers in your network you should follow (use this after you have built up your following list)
Step 5: Add Desktop Clients
You can use Twitter's web interface, but it can get difficult to see who is talking to you.. Desktop applications built for Twitter allow you to read replies and direct messages and offer a more custom browsing experience. My personal favorite is Tweetdeck.
Want more Twitter Tools, knock yourself out with this fabulous list from Brian Solis or more tips from Laura Lee Dooley's Twitter Presentation for Emetrics or this list of 100 Twitter tools from Commetrics
If you've set up a listening post on Twitter, do you have a story about something you heard on Twitter that helped your organization reach a goal, build social capital, or improve something? What is your best wisdome or tip about setting up Twitter as listening post?