Everybody agrees that Content is King, but an effective Social Marketing strategy has one hand tied behind its back unless an effective “listening post” is an integral part of the plan.
Whenever I’m in that first client meeting or teaching a workshop, it’s always the “listening” bit that seems to resonate with people the most, and brings to the forefront exactly how you can mine the gold in these staggeringly enormous online communities, and lead target connections back to your content.
Most people and businesses can create an effective online listening post that’ll adequately serve their needs – for free. In fact, most people I know can’t keep up with the sheer number of incoming leads generated by the simplist set of tools, so before you invest in some of the pricier options out there, follow these easy steps to create your own listening post.
Set up a free Google account. – A free Google account gives you access to a number of useful, free Google tools. Everybody should have one, so go here and get yours.
Set up Google Alerts. – A Google Alert is a free tool that enables you to have key word searches delivered to you via email or RSS feed. This saves you from initiating searches every time you want to know about mentions of you, your company, your book, your competition or your favorite stuff.
Set up a Google Reader. – A Google Reader is like a newspaper customized by you, to serve your unique interests. Articles are directed to your Google Reader by subscribing to their RSS Feed, that little orange button you’ll find on almost every blog or website these days. Play around with your reader to create folders for specific business development categories. This will streamline your work process and make your business development/marketing time more effective. Click here for more detailed instructions on How to Subscribe to RSS Feeds Using Google Reader.
Set up a Twitter Management Application. – There are a boatload of useful applications that enable you to manage the insanity of Twitter more effectively. TweetDeck and HootSuite are good starter tools to help you begin to identify the people using the words that’ll tip you off to your customers, your readers, your competitors, and the media types talking about people and companies like you.
Create search columns using the same key words you’re using for your Google Alerts. When you find somebody who falls into one of your business development target categories, engage them appropriately, pulling them back to your content where you do business.
These applications also allow you to link to Facebook and LinkedIn, dramatically simplifying the task of updating your status and monitoring the activity of your target connections.
Sign up for Nutshell Mail. – Another free service, Nutshell Mail is a sweet gizmo that will email you a summary of everything going on in all your social networking outposts so you don’t have to visit each one separately just to check in on the activity of your connections. The information you want to see and the frequency of delivery is infinitely customizable, so you can, for instance, set Nutshell Mail up to deliver you from one to twelve updates a day. While some of this is redundant with the monitoring you’re doing in your Twitter management tool, it’s simple to scroll down through the email and pick off the stuff that the other apps don’t highlight, like birthdays, new followers and quitters.
Like I said, there are much more sophisticated tools out there that will deliver you amazingly detailed data pulled from the billions of conversations going on out there on the Internet, but for most people, this simple listening post will provide a good starting point for zeroing in on your target connections in the Social Web, and deliver you a daily stream of leads for your business development objectives.