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Laura Norvig

Saw this post pop up on friendfeed and realized I still have a long way to go in setting up a comprehensive listening dashboard. Searching on our name is tough because our name is too generic ("The Resource Center") but I plan to try searching for our URL. I've set up a place on Friendfeed to search news from our field - checked it just now and caught a post that servicewire did on us that I wouldn't have caught if I hadn't checked!

I think I will be able to set up a more targeted monitoring dashboard on friendfeed all with RSS of specific searches in Google news, google, and twitter.


It's probably worth mentioning the paid services, some nonprofits may have the need, budget, and justification to use them.

* Radian6 [market leader, pricey, going after larger clients]
* Scout Labs [most affordable plans, going after small and medium sized biz]
* TruCast
* Techrigy

I've used the first two, the others are worth looking at too just search for "social media listening"; new services seems to be cropping up every few months.

Using services like these will save nonprofits a lot of time and provide better longitudinal insight compared to the ad hoc use of numerous apps duct taped together (which are great of course when you have no budget!).

Beth Kanter

Thanks so much. I've written quite a lot of paid services, although I
keep hearing from nonprofits that budget concerns prevent them from
using a lot of them.
Do you know if there a free resource - other than the Forrest Report
that compares features and prices of professional listening tools that
I haven't yet captured in these posts?

Mike Spataro

Thanks Dan for the TruCast mention. I don't know any company or organization that can't benefit from listening and participating online. The key is to define the objectives upfront and then match those objectives to the right provider who can help you achieve them. Strategy first always wins.

Mike Spataro
Visible Technologies

Sue Waters

I use Google Alerts, Technorati, Icerocket and Twitter Search. I'm not convinced that Google Alerts, just like Technorati, is working well any more. Most of them feed into my Google Reader.

Amber Naslund

Hey Beth,

Another couple of sites I recommend folks add to their free tools and listening dashboard are Backtype (for comments) and (a search engine dedicated to social sites). Hope that's helpful (and thanks to Dan for the plug). :)

Amber Naslund
Director of Community, Radian6

Abby Ravera

Can just feel greater productivity coming on! :) Thanks Beth.

Jeff Hurt

I call it the "Art of Listening & The Science of Responding." As a nonprofit employee that plans education, events and meetings, listening is critical component for success. Often, I have to interpret what my members say and understand their motivations as the words they use may not be the correct jargon.

We take the listening one step further and do active listening at our events by monitoring Twitter, Twitter Search, Tweetchat, Tweetbeep and Google Alerts. We make any necessary midcourse corrections to sessions and event logistics as we listen and monitor various channels.

We've also trained employees and volunteer leaders about the science of responding and how to manage an emotional highjack to negative feedback that they may hear. Thus "The Art of Listening & The Science of Responding."


Google Reader and RSS are the key tools that help me listen for conversations about legal aid and pro bono legal services. I used MonitorThis to create an OPML file for different phrases that I could import into Google Reader. Then after watching those feeds for a while, I went directly to Google Blogs, Google News, Twitter Search, and so on and customized the feeds. (For example, changing '"legal aid" OR "pro bono" OR "self-represented" OR "pro se"' to '"legal aid" OR "pro bono" OR "self-represented" OR "pro se" -design -designers' to get rid of articles that talked about pro bono design services.)

A couple of pictures of my Google Reader set up are here and here.

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