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5 Free & Easy-to-Use Listening Tools for Monitoring Social Media

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A guest post by Jason Miller of Zoomerang.

Listening effectively to your customers can be a very insightful experience. The better you are at listening; the better you can understand your customers' wants and needs. Do you wonder what your customers are saying about your product or service across the web?

With the rise, and seemingly universal adoption, of social media among consumers, businesses can now listen in on conversations regarding their products and services---if they have the right tools. Although you cannot control these discussions, you can monitor them and respond accordingly.

Here are five free tools to include in your social media listening tool belt:
1. Social Mention: A site that offers real-time social media search and analysis. It’s very easy to use and features the most common indicators of social media activity (strength, sentiment, passion, and reach).
2. RSS Reader: Sign up for a free RSS reader, such as Google Reader. Then use the Google Blogs search option, and search blog directory sites, such as Technorati and Blog Catalog, for blogs that are relevant to your product or service. When you find what you are looking for, simply subscribe by clicking on the RSS feed and adding it to your reader.
3. Search.twitter.com: Here you can search for keywords or phrases and view those mentions (up to two weeks) as they occur on Twitter. Once you find relevant keywords you can subscribe via RSS feed, add to your reader, and stay alerted when these mentions happen in real time.
4. Online surveys and polls: Online survey tools can be an invaluable resource for listening. Embedding a survey or poll directly into your website or blog engages your audience and gives them a voice. You can also launch a survey or poll directly into Facebook and Twitter, giving your business a focused listening platform.
5. Google alerts: Google alerts allows you to set up search queries for keywords which Google will then email you whenever it indexes those keywords. A good idea to start with is to set up alerts for your company name, relevant products, and your website URL.

This may seem like a lot to jump into---so try not to get overwhelmed. It can be a real challenge to monitor everything at first so take it in strides and find what works best for you. Once you get your “listening headquarters” all set up, you will find it hard to turn off.

Listening to what people say can teach you a lot about what you are doing right, and perhaps more importantly, what you are doing wrong. In any case, your current and potential customers will likely appreciate the fact that you are indeed listening.

Jason Miller is a social media marketing manager at Zoomerang.

For more info about free online tools, check out Take 10: How to Monitor Conversations With Free Online Tools.


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Comments

  • by Brittany Fri Jun 17, 2011 via blog

    I think you hit the nail on the head with "customers will likely appreciate the fact that you are indeed listening"! I think part of the reason social media and blogs have been so popular is because customers now feel like their voice is heard and taken into consideration. Businesses lacking an online presence are being left out of the conversation and appear to not really care as much about what's being said (even though they must likely do care).

    Brittany Morse | http://sproutsocial.com

  • by Fernanda Fri Jun 17, 2011 via blog

    Another good free tool is http://www.kurrently.com - you can track mentions in real time for both Facebook and Twitter with this tool.

  • by Allison [Girl's Guide to Social Media] Fri Jun 17, 2011 via blog

    I agree, Jason. The better we listen the better we understand the needs/wants of our online customer or constituents. Moreover, the more we listen the more those people are going to come back and help spread our message to others via social media and word of mouth.

    I am a huge advocate for Social Mention! The other tools you mentioned are top-notch too.

  • by Jason Miller Sat Jun 18, 2011 via blog

    Hi Brittany,

    Thanks for the comment, I could not agree more. Well said!

    Jason

  • by Jason Miller Sat Jun 18, 2011 via blog

    Hi Frenanda,

    Thanks for the comment, will check it out for sure.

    Best,
    Jason

  • by Jason Miller Sat Jun 18, 2011 via blog

    Hi Allison,

    Thanks for the comment. You are so right! The better we listen; the better we understand. Social media is like a huge focus group, you just have to know how to find the right conversations for your business/ product, eavesdrop a bit, and then participate and add something of value.

    All the best,
    Jason

  • by Charles Nightingale Tue Jun 21, 2011 via blog

    Great article Jason, thanks for giving back. Will check out the tools, have used some already. Does Zoomerang have similar tools available? I see I have a 3rd degree link to you via LinkedIn, will try and link up, if that is okay with you.

    All the best,
    Charles

  • by Jason Miller Fri Jun 24, 2011 via blog

    Hi Charles,

    Feel free to send me an invite on Linkedin! Happy to connect.

    As far as tools, Zoomerang surveys & polls can be launched into Twitter/ Facebook to collect feedback or embedded in websites/ blogs for content engagement and real time feedback. It's just another great tool for listening.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Jason

  • by Saul Fleischman Sat Jul 21, 2012 via blog

    Great stuff, and may I suggest that anyone looking to hone in on conversations, curate content and/or topic-tag for reach needs to use the brand new social media tool, for brand monitoring, listening, topic smart-tagging, and content curation (with proper referencing of original content creators): RiteTag is a tool for finding the "rite" tags for many social networks based on your query. We also provide stats and examples of recent updates with each tag suggested, so people can learn about the types of content that tends to go with a tag.

    Some tools do tag illustration. Also, they do the job just with Twitter; http://www.RiteTag.com already has 10 social neworks (with topic-tagging) integrated, and will expand to more than 20 - which people can search on simultaneously. RiteTag - to find the rite tags, per network (they vary per network) and learn about tags as well. Its not about SEO, but SSO: social sharing optimization: optimizing social media updates to be seen by those not following you by name, but following and searching for your tagged topics. And absolutely nothing out there does what RiteTag.com does for this, not for one network, let alone the ten that we already have integrated.

  • by cproductreviews.com/ Sat Dec 1, 2012 via blog

    Has anyone tried Vertical Response? I heard it's a great tool.

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