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Will Hull - eCommunications/eDevelopment Specialist

Great presentation Beth. You certainly are the master.



You often mention listening as one of the essentials in online social networking, and the example you give here for the Red Cross certainly seems to support it. But what should you listen for if your non-profit isn't selling a service, and isn't a huge and well known orgainzation like the Red Cross? I'm trying to get online networking going for the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and I know listening is one of the first (and ongoing) steps, but I don't know exactly what or where I should be casting my "ear". Thoughts?

and thanks for all the great advice I've already garnered from your blog!

Beth Kanter

Terrific question! I have a workshop devoted to the techniques of listening for organizations of all sizes.

Here's some examples of all types of nonprofits that use listening and the value they've discovered

My how-to workshop

Here's some basics of what to search on:

* 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)

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

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.

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.

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

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