Don’t Dump – Learn to Listen

Post by Frank Barry - 12.29.2008 - Follow me on Twitter

The key to being successful with Social Media & some tools to get you started

Remember the saying “You have two (2) ears and one (1) mouth?"

“Dumping” on people is not what you want to be known for in the world of Social Media (see definition on Wikipedia) or any other world for that matter. It doesn’t benefit you or the people you're dumping on. Maybe it’s better understood like this – We shouldn’t be yelling at others (at least not in normal situations). Think of how you responded the last time someone yelled at you … I doubt you appreciated it.

Most people love to talk (or hear themselves speak) including organizations, but we all know listening is just as important. I’ll even argue that listening is more important than talking. This is true in the ‘real’ world, so what makes the online world any different?

What’s it all mean? … We need to learn the art of listening online.

You need to learn to listen if you want to get closer to your supporters, connect to more people and spread awareness. (Beth Kanter has some good advice here)

In the early days of the web, listening was not very easy to do, but in the web 2.0 & social media (SM) days, listening has become fairly simple. There’s no doubt that it takes some learning, practice and time to become good at it, but at the end of the day it’s well worth the investment!


Let’s look at a quick case study: 



10 tools to help you get started:

You will likely have to spend time researching, playing and educating your self on the below tools, but this should give you a good set of resources.


1. Google reader

A simple RSS aggregator tool. All you have to do is find blogs/sites that are somehow related to your industry and subscribe to them. It’s easy to do in Google reader and a lot of sites even have a link to ‘subscribe’ to their RSS feed in some easily seen location. Using an RSS aggregator makes it much simpler to stay up to date on the new information you need to know in your world.

2. Google alerts

Google Alerts are emails automatically sent to you when there are new Google results for your search terms. Google offers alerts with results from News, Websites, Blogs, Video and Groups.

3. Yahoo pipes

Yahoo pipes social media firehose

4. Technorati

5. Google Blog Search

6. Aid RSS

See which of your blog posts are generating the most interest and which are more popular overall


Monitor what is going on in the Twitter world

8. Twitter Search

Search and subscribe via RSS

9. Tweetbeep

Search and subscribe via email

10. Dashboards (You'll need to spend some time configuring these for optimal use)




One thing we should all remember while we’re learning to listen online …

Be an “active listener” - Comment on the blogs where you are being talked to/about or generally have something to do with what your organization is all about. Talking to the folks who are out there talking to or about you will help you learn, retain and make your listening that much better. As you learn to listen you will also learn where your supporters hang out. Once you know this information go hang with them, listen to them and participate in the conversations they are having.


At the end of the day what does this all mean …

People are people and want to be engaged by other people, not by ‘the organization.' The social web makes this so much easier to do these days. Your supporters also want to feel heard. Again, the social web makes this easier and faster than ever before. Being a better listener equips you to respond, engage and support the people who support you.


Other useful resources:


How has listening helped your organization? We’d love to hear your story.


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