Yesterday, I summarized the Hubs-and-Spokes framework from Chapter 3 of The Social Media Report. Hubs-and-Spokes is a metaphor I used in our book to help think about the way we can share our values, interests, expertise and passions with those we establish relationships in other social networks. Part of that model showed blue bubbles as placeholders for activities related to listening.
In Chapter 4, I talked about the importance of Monitoring the Conversation. As your relationships continue to grow, and the information you share through your blog resonates with more people--positively or negatively--it'll be increasingly likely that others will link to your articles, piggy-back their thoughts about your opinions in their own blog posts, share links to your posts, discuss or mention them in forums, twitter, and so on. It's important to know when these events happen so you can respond, comment, or further the dialog. It's one of the ways in which conversations happen on the web today.
In Chapter 4 we talked about Listening Posts as events, supported by automation, that trigger alerts for you when keywords and phrases you're interested in are created somewhere on the web. Some of these tools can be as simple as the use of search engines and keyword alerts, while others may be as sophisticated as customized third-party "dashboards" and analytics for which it may make sense to pay a nominal fee as your business grows.
Listening posts differ from the traditional feedback tools like focus groups, interviews, surveys and polls. They're different in the sense that Listening Posts give us clues about the online conversations happening around us now. To help you here, you'll want to get technology working for you to trigger alerts or filter information based on keywords or phrases that give clues to industry trends, customer perceptions, competitor behavior, technologies, politics, and so on.
Now, I'm totally in love with some of the dashboard analytics of providers like Radian6, Compete.com, Hubspot, Sysomos, and others. But, these are paid services and, for many of you who've been gracious to put up with my rants and raves on this blog, it's probably worth first looking into some of the free services.
In my next posts on this series that highlights key points in the Social Media Report 2010, I'll share some of the free tools I use to monitor the conversation in the social sphere.
But, because I know some of you will be wondering what an analytics dashboard from one of the paid services can offer, I thought I'd share this demo Matt Dickman was kind enough to put together about Radian6. It's a good overview that'll show you what's possible beyond the simplicity of the free tools I'll be talking about in the next post.
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