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Listening in a Digital Age

ListeningListening to the wants and needs of your markets and customers has always been a good idea. Any good salesperson can tell you the benefits of listening – if you do it right the prospect will always reveal how to get the sale.

In today’s rapidly shifting business environment listening is one of the key competitive tactics, but the sheer volume of what’s being said makes it make more complicated exercise. The days of spending a little time down at the barber shop to measure the pulse of the market are long pasted.

Today’s marketing must also employ a powerful set of digital ears to monitor and engage in the millions of conversations going on simultaneously in every corner of town and every corner of the planet.

By setting up filtering, aggregating and alert technology or services you can gain access to real-time conversations about:

  • Your customer’s ongoing experience
  • Any brand/product/CEO mentions
  • Complaints about competing services
  • Inaccurate information about your organization
  • Thoughts and needs of journalists in your industry

The key is to create, either on your own or through a paid service, a dashboard that delivers the conversations surrounding topics of interest right to your inbox or browser as part of your measurement suite of analytics.

Your do it yourself toolbox should include:

  • Google alerts – Google Alerts allows you set-up customer searches for any phase and receive email or RSS alerts any time your phrase shows up in online media, blogs, web pages and news.
  • Search.twitter – For now, monitoring twitter is a separate stream (Google seems to be adding twitter conversations to SERPs) – using the advanced search function allows you set-up very specific searches, even including geographic details. These searches produce RSS feeds and can then be subscribed to.
  • tweetbeep.com – Similar to Google Alerts, but for twitter. Set-up search phrases and receive notification any time your phrases show up in twitter conversations.
  • Boardtracker.com – focuses on the most popular bulletin board conversations and can turn up responses that don’t show up anywhere else. Some industries still have very heavy bulletin board use.
  • Backtype.com – Backtype is a search engine of sorts that focuses on blog comments. Blog comments don’t often make it into the mainstream search results so this is a way to listen in on this set of content.
  • Social Mention – this is a mashup search engine of many of the formats of content such as audio and video – I’ve found it a very nice way to turn up some mentions that don’t occur anywhere else.

Many organizations may find that the ability to listen in digitally is so important or so time consuming that they need to employ a paid service to do it. In addition, these services offer countless ways to filter and analyze the data you collect in far greater ways then you might on your own. The greater level of analysis is a great way to spot trends, find opportunities and measure ROI for your online marketing efforts.

Some popular paid services include:

  • Radian6 – Robust set of analytics, relates data in some very cool ways
  • Trackur – advanced set of tools, well worth the cost
  • Buzzlogic – focuses on helping you find key influencers driving conversations.
  • Filtrbox – very easy to use, powerful and low cost

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