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May 2010

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My organization, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, keeps an eye on conversations about "blood," "health," etc. in Houston, Texas (and sometimes across the Web). We generally search manually because there is not a high volume of discussion in the area that we serve.

We've been able to answer questions for people who want to donate blood but don't know the rules, or who have misconceptions. When we found someone who'd had a negative experience at one of our facilities, we were able to respond to her concern and hopefully leave her with a good feeling about our organization.

It was our first true social media success story, and helped validate our social media use to the powers that be at our organization.

Kate Bladow

Although not under the auspices of our organization, I found out this week that a colleague and I both listen to social media channels on "legal aid" and "pro bono" for several reasons. (Interestingly, we independently started doing this and picked different channels - LinkedIn for her and Twitter for me.)

First, we want to know if anyone is reaching out and looking for legal aid. For those people, we can direct them to where they can find legal information as well as referral information for legal aid and pro bono organizations.

Secondly, we can pick up on people who are talking about doing pro bono legal work, want to do pro bono legal work, or may need support while working on their pro bono legal case.

For my personal blog, I also listen. As one of our projects, my co-blogger, Matthew Burnett, and I aggregate access-to-justice news stories and post them to the @accesstojustice account on Twitter. By searching blogs, Twitter, Google news, and other places, we are able to capture quite a few of the stories and share them with a growing number of people. And we make certain to follow people who are talking about legal aid, pro bono, or other access-to-justice issues.

Amber Naslund

Hi Beth,

Thanks so much for the Radian6 mention. I'm looking forward to reaching about the efforts of your readers and how they're applying listening practices to better their organizations. We're working on a case study right now with the American Red Cross folks, and will look forward to sharing some of their insights and successes very soon.

In the meantime, thanks for bringing up this important discussion, and I can't wait to check back and see what's happening out there.

Amber Naslund
Director of Community | Radian6

KyNam Doan

I'm impressed with the survey responses but also surprised at the negligible growth between 2007 and 2008 since 2008 was such a huge year for social media. This is a puzzling exception to the tech adoption curve.

Regardless, this year should be a big one :). Thanks for the story, Beth.


Beth, we've got some great stories about noisy, angry people becoming champions for NFG because of open engagement with them on social networks. If you'd like to use any of those, let me know and I'll help you with slides.

Beth Kanter

Via Marty Kearns in LinkedIn Q/A

I assume that listening is a personal thing. It is not really something an organization does. It is a culture that we build. I and my staff are listening on many different channels (rss, linkedin, facebook, listserves) we all pick up ideas, recommendations and connections via our listening chennels and we share them all the time with each other as staff and also blog on them to point our members toward resources we find.

We listen to let the network of our friends filter information for us. Saving us time and making us smarter. Nina and Bobbi listen to find out about conferences and meetings that we should attend. We listen to find speakers that would do go trainings for GMT. We listen to find success stories of our members and we listen so we can provide training to our members.

A case might be seeing Eric ( ) blogging on something like this then we would ask him in to lead a webinar with our members. maintains a 80% retention rate with our members and you can't do that without listening.

It would also be fair to say that in the early years of our development of the netcentric consulting (and still today) our listening to rss feeds helps refine our services and stay sharp (and connected to experts in the field.)

I hope this helps.

Saul Kaplan


At the Business Innovation Factory (BIF) we are going up the learning curve on the use of social media platforms to better listen to our growing network of innovators and to activate our real world laboratory to explore and test systems level innovations in areas of high social impact including: health care, education, and energy independence.

BIF's current Nursing Home of the Future project has taught us a lot about how to include the voices of elders directly in our collaborative effort to design a better elder experience. We are integrating social media platforms directly in to our design process at BIF.

You can learn more about what we are up to at .

Saul Kaplan
Founder and Chief Catalyst
Business Innovation Factory


I began using social media on a volunteer basis for People Helping People ( two months ago because I wanted to convince others at the organization of its importance.

In that time, I have used Twitter, followed RSS feeds and commented on blogs. When I first began, I couldn't find our website via Google search, and that has recently changed. Via Twitter I made a connection with someone who has just joined our Board. I've had an offer to write an article about one of our programs for a disability focused webzine.

Social media is now part of my job - hooray! And, after participating in a recent webinar, I'll be using other tools as well. My boss and our Board have become converts and it's wonderful to have the support.

Beth Kanter

Via Miriam Kagan from LinkedIn

Beth, this is something I worked on, but GreenPeace did something interesting a while back where they asked their online visitors for campaign ideas and they actually got some great ones, like the Great Whale Trail, where they tagged whales and then tracked them using GPS/Google maps. This drove, from my understanding, quite a bit of traffic, and also an idea that came from "listening" to their network.


Beth Kanter

More from Nursing Home of the Future
Beth we have captured many stories from our Nursing Home of the Future work at BIF. You can see the output from our work so far at .

This week we got incredible insight into personal care issues of the elderly including specific input into how to improve the elder showering experience.

Leslie Forman

From closely reading the click-throughs on our email newsletters, I've learned that Wokai supporters are a career-oriented and information-hungry bunch. Whenever we mention a big company like Citi ( or a big name like Barack Obama ( everyone clicks on that.

This type of listening has taught me to include more of this big-picture / big-company content on our blog and in our newsletters. A large percentage of our supporters are either finance professionals or business students, so news that is relevant to these fields really gets people's attention.

This reminds me of what Katya Andresen calls "It's all about us" disease. (

I've been using Google Alerts and Twitter as well, but the results are not as dramatic as I've seen with our newsletters.

Laura Lee Dooley

I posted a longer piece on this at


So many great examples out there ... Beth thanks for getting people to share ... and thanks to everyone that shared in the comments.

@Cynthia - love your story. simple. just see the importance and go for it! if you hustle and keep making progress daily good things will happen at some point.

@Beth - have you dug more into how these orgs are tracking the ROI?

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