When I first started working for IBM back in 1999, they sent me to basically what I would call a training camp. At the camp they taught us project management, selling, consulting, negotiating and Listening skills. The truth is to be effective at any of the first four skills I mentioned you have to be an effective listener. We learned what it means to actively listen and how to use the information we gather to best serve our customers. I didn’t realize at the time how much value there was in learning that skill but it has served me well in my professional life and has allowed me to advance in my career.
Listening however is a skill that is changing. Years ago listening meant you were hearing what a person said to you in a face to face or phone conversation. Today people talk using other communication devices. Today when people talk they don’t always speak to you and often you are not the intended audience of their communication even if they are talking about you or your brand.
What you do with your listening and how you respond hasn’t really changed as much as the tools you use to hear what your customers are saying. I’m going to cover some of the free tools available to you today so you can better hear what is being said about you and your brand.
The first tool is really understanding what you want to listen for. This at first may seem simple but it honestly takes quite a bit of both skill, and refinement.
I feel the best way to explain this is with an example:
For simplicity sake I’m going to use the keyword – Shipping. If you do a search on the word shipping using some of the tools we discuss momentarily you’ll see that you get a bunch of stuff about free shipping but for our purposes we don’t care about free so I’ll use a negative work Free. So any tool I use will search for: Shipping -Free
Over time you may see other key words that you do not wish to show up in your search such as FedEx. Then your search would look like this: Shipping -Free -FedEx
The point here is that you can and should truly refine your search so you get the most relevant responses to the information you are looking for.
Now that we covered how to narrow your keyword set let’s look at a list of tools and what you can expect from them:
Technorati Blog Search – Save the RSS to a reader and get regular updates on your topics.
Google Alerts Search – See new results as often as you would like in your email.
Twitter Search Twiter Search – Save the search as an RSS feed and see what has been said about your topic lately.
Addictomatic Searches Bing, Google, YouTube, twitter and a host of other networks. Brings back the most recent conversations about the search topic .
How Sociable Looks at mentions and provides a score based on how often a brand is mentioned in social networks and search engines.
IceRocket Blog Search looking for mentions of a term
Back Type Looks at mentions on twitter mainly.
Social Ping Active monitoring and notification from twitter
Google Insights Shows trends for searches Allows you to see search volume across multiple keywords
Google trends Shows trends for searches Shows volume over time on a single keyword
OMGILI search forums
Social mention Blog Search