Flickr Photo by Incurable Hippie
I've been writing a lot about listening through social media channels in preparation for a live workshop for WeAreMedia next month in San Francisco. I'm passionate about listening - the skills, tools, techniques, and how it translates to continuous improvement of strategy and understanding the value it provides to organization's mission.
Whether your nonprofit is using listening tools that are free or a professional tool to take a deeper dive, after you figure out who will do the listening and how to make it actionable, it's time to address the nitty gritty of what and how.
The most important listening literacy skills are
- Keywords Are King: Composing and refining keywords
- Seeing the Forest Through The Trees: Pattern analysis and synthesis of findings
- Engaging effectively: Don't just listen unless your mission is market research or you're a peeping tom
I would really LOVE to hear about stories about what keywords you've used and how the resulting listening
brought some value.
In the meantime, here's some how to tips.
Give Me The Facts Mam
These are obvious. But it helps to have them listed and even better to create a one-pager and get input from other staff members.
- Nonprofit Name
- Other nonprofit names in your space
- Program, services, and event names
- CEO or well-known personalities associated with your organization
- Other nonprofits with similar program names
- Your brand or tagline
- URLs for your blog, web site, online community
- Industry terms or other phrases
Andy Beal also suggests searching on intellectual property and your known strengths and weaknesses.
What Not To Search On
Try to avoid generic terms. Like searching on google, it will bring you lots of noise. If your organization's name or program names contain generic words, use Boolean operators like "AND" or "NOT." (Need to brush up your Boolean skills, here's a tutorial)
It's Not How You Talk About It Behind the Firewall
Once you've had a chance to scan results from the basics, you should keep a spreadsheet of phrases or words that people actually use to describe your organization and add these to your other phrases list. This should give you a reality check and avoid assuming that your audiences uses the same words as your staff or you.
If you are using an analytics software program like Google Analytics, run a search engine referral report and see what words people are actually typing into search engines to find your site and try using some of these. Or the Goolge Adwords Keyword tool
Reiteracy is Social Media Listening Literacy
You may not know what is not worth searching until you try it and revise based on what you see. Don't assume that you'll get it right on the first try, either. It takes some and a little bit of a reiterative process to fine-tune those key words.
Use Some Creative Thinking Skills
Recently, a nonprofit that provided services to caretakers, including grief counseling, wanted to look at how caretakers and family members think or talk about grief and dying of an elderly patient. After trying broad terms and got nothing, they tried phrases like "My elderly mother died of cancer."
Another way to play with key words is to add your organization's name or program, and the word "sucks" or other complaint word. If you are a visual thinker, try the visual thesaurus to help you brainstorm.
Before You Use Tools, Think Offline
Remember that the more phrases and keywords you add, the more results you'll have to look at and that could get overwhelming if you're not using a professional tool. So, if apply the so what test:
1.) List Your Keyword Phrase or Topic Word
2.) List 3 reasons why you're interested
3.) List 3 specific sub-topics or related ideas
4.) Review and pick the most relevant
Listening is only half, Connecting and Engaging is the other half
Unless your mission is to do market research and use listening techniques to feed research reports, you want to take the next step of actually engaging.
Danielle Brigida shared some wonderful insights about the other half of listening which is having that conversation. "I spend a majority of my time listening and responding to questions, commenting on blogs, and tracking NWF's mentions and various programs. But also it's important to connect with people based on their interests (I will sometimes search twitter for "kids outside" and then compliment them on giving their kids a green hour!)
This is probably where you're wondering about how to manage the work without getting information overload. Amber Naslund from Radian 6 offers some good questions on how to manage the participation side of listening:
- Do we have to respond to EVERY brand mention?
- How much time does it take each day to do this?
- What’s the best way to handle negative comments? Ignore or engage?
- How does one person manage all of that information?
- How do we keep track of what happens after someone responds?
- Who should respond to brand mentions? What should they say?
- How will we know if all of this is making a lick of difference?
What else makes up listening literacy skills? What are your stories about how your organization's listening literacy skills have returned value?
Qui Diaz, The Big Dig: Online Research and Listening
She points to a few good posts on the value of connecting listening to action.
Trust, Listening, and Doing Something by Valerie Maltoni
How To Survive A Social Media Revolt, by Mashable
In Social Media, Listening Is Only Half the Battle by Britopian