This is a draft for a listening curriculum that I will be doing for the first time as part of WeAreMedia Workshop later this week. I will also be teaching this workshop for nonprofits in a number of other locations in the coming months.
1. Getting Your Nonprofit Ready To Listen
Your organization has identified a social media objective, audience, strategy, tools, measurement, and experiment. You know your first step is listening, but before you jump into a river of conversations and keywords and even before you touch the tools, you need to be ready to listen.
Your organization may be skeptical about the value of listening through social media channels. You need to begin with sharing some stories about how other nonprofits are getting value from listening. You may need to begin with a small, low-risk listening project and share the feedback with others in your organization. This is how the American Red Cross started. (Story is here)
GreenMedia Toolshed founder Marty Kearns says that listening is something that is done on an individual staff level, but for it to become an organizational process leaders need to build a culture of listening. He encourages staff to listen on many different channels and to blog what they learn in order to share with members. He notes that they have a 80% retention rate with members and "you can't do that without listening." Listening by using rss feeds helps refine their services and help stay sharp and connected to experts in the field.
Once people understand the value of the listening, you need to figure out what you will listen to. Listening should be linked to real life decisions or your social media strategy objectives. Once you have an idea for the what, subject it to the so what test. Brainstorm how you will apply what you learn to actual decisions. Finally, think about how you and your organization will manage your listening efforts. It doesn't need to be an all-consuming activity, but you need to decide who will do the heavy listening, who needs the know what has been said, and who is empowered on respond or act on the information.
Beth Kanter, Examples of How Listening Returns Value for Nonprofit Organizations
Beth Kanter, Getting Your Nonprofit Ready To Listen
2. Listening Literacy Skills
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
- Pattern Analysis
- Engaging effectively
It's important search for the basics or what we call "ego searches." You'll also need to search on keywords or phrases that might uncover a client need or perception. To figure out your keywords, do a little brainstorming offline and then maybe use some online keyword tools.
Once you've started to monitor the results of keyword searches, it's important to put your pattern analysis skills to work. KD Paine has some excellent advice about how to shift through some of the listening data. Finally, you'll need to start to engage with your network and have a conversation. Your pattern analysis will tell you when to ignore something or when to address it right away.
If you are not using an RSS Reader, pick one and learn how to use it like a rock star. There are different readers that offer diffferent features and almost all are free. Here's a few:
- Google Reader
- There are many other readers - here's a comparison of features from Wikipedia
Make sure you establish good RSS habits.
- Set up aside a small block of time to read your feeds everyday
- Clean house often, RSS subscriptions tend to pile up
- Don't feel like you have to read every post on every blog, use the "Mark Read" option
4. Set up your Listening Radar and Response System
Your radar will have different components:
Search on your organization's name, url, or other specific identifier.
- Do search at site for the first time
- Add a RSS feed to your reader
- Monitor in your reader, engage when needed
Dan Schawbel, Five Free Tools To Track Your Reputation
Various Key word searches
- 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 that illustrate need
Rinse and repeat above process. Put into different folders in your reader.
c. Listening to Bloggers
You'll want to identify and follow key bloggers in your nonprofit space, especially if you are planning to blog or doing any blogger relations program.
- Define Your Niche
- Find Bridge bloggers alltop.com
- Add them to your RSS Reader
Further you can check out their page rank, views, and technorati rating. But the best advice is start small and spider out.
Finding Bridge Bloggers by Beth Kanter
d. Other Places To Listen
You can monitor social networks and YouTube for mentions of your organization and issue. It is important to do this type of listening as a prelude to setting up your own profile or placing videos on YouTube - and as an going part of your social media strategy.
- Social networks
5. The Art of Responding
Engagement happens eventually. Once you have a policy around who will respond, you will get down to commenting and engaging in conversation.
6. Pattern Analysis
You'll want to be look for patterns and trends. This requires stepping back. Your tools are social bookmarking and the excel spreadsheet and, of course, your brain.
Using Delicious to Bookmark mentions
WeAreMedia Tool Box: Social Bookmarking
7. Professional Listening Tools
With your system in place, you're may be ready for professional listening tools. As with any vendor, do your due diligence. The key value is if you have the volume that requires analytics and if the tool can support your work flow.
- Listening in a Blizzard by Beth Kanter
- Top 10 Reputation Tools Worth Paying For by Dan Schwabel, Mashable
- Listening Tools by Beth Kanter
KD Paine, Measuring PR and Corporate Communications (Must read)