Social media tools are powerful for quickly and cheaply broadcasting our frames and messages out to the world. But tools like Twitter and Facebook are also very effective listening devices. NTEN has a useful post on 5 free tools to listen to what people are saying and where they are saying it. Many of these tools are Twitter-focused, because Twitter is the easiest place to get started in listening.
Google Alerts (alerts.google.com): At the bare minimum, you should use Google Alerts for your organization’s name, acronym, prominent staff names like your ED, and large campaigns you’re working on. Depending on the number of mentions you get, you’ll probably want to set the alerts to come to your inbox as they happen, so you know quickly what’s being said and can determine a response, if needed.
Tweetdeck (tweetdeck.com): Tweetdeck is great because it runs in the background and gives you desktop alerts for mentions, similar to Microsoft Outlook when you get a new email. You can customize the different columns and have an array of search terms for people talking about you on Twitter. For example, mine has the following columns: @ replies of my personal twitter account, @ replies of my organizational account, mentions of “humane society”, mentions of “hsus”, and direct messages.
Tweetbeep (tweetbeep.com): Tweetbeep is essentially Google Alerts for Twitter. Whenever you’re mentioned on Twitter, you’ll get sent an email with details of that mention. You can specify any search term you want. This is great for people who are not ready for the power of Tweetdeck with all its bells and whistles. Twitter is the most real-time account you have of what people are saying about you, so it’s really important to have a Twitter listening tool that matches your comfort level.
Kurrently (kurrently.com): It is amazing, and scary, how many people still do not lock down the privacy on their Facebook profiles. That’s what makes Kurrently so useful: it’s a search engine for public Facebook updates. It actually now pulls in a lot more than Facebook updates, but that’s what I find it most useful for.
Twitter Analyzer (twitteranalyzer.com): It is very important to think about your goals and how you’re going to measure success when diving into a new online venture, and listening is no different. Twitter Analyzer provides a breadth of statistics it provides and its ease of use. The graphs are pretty, too. It provides data such as number of followers, number of tweets, number of retweets, top hashtags, number of mentions, etc – which are great metrics. For Facebook, check out their built-in analytics for your fan page.