What’s the first sound you hear every morning? How does that affect you? What sounds appeal to you? Which ones bug you? My favorite sound is children laughing. Children laughing at me makes me sad. Unless I’m being funny. And then it makes me happy.
There’s a point here.
Two Ears and One Mouth
Dr. Stephen R. Covey devotes all of Habit 5 of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people to the reality that we have twice as many ears as we have mouths, and that we should consider this fact. Listen. Hear. Understand. That’s the big secret transition point inside the 7 Habits. The same applies to social media.
HOW to Listen
Conversations are happening online in all kinds of places. It’s important to understand how to get in there, and how to listen where the conversations are happening. Here’s a very impartial list of places to listen and how. But first, a word about Google Reader.
Google Reader is a tool that makes reading LOTS of blogs and other RSS feeds really easy. (Did I lose any of you on discussing RSS? If so, watch this and come back.) How? First, it’s super easy to add subscriptions. Click the big green “ADD SUBSCRIPTION” button and you can add whatever you need to follow. Now, let’s talk about what to add.
Where to Listen
- Technorati. Get an account there, then build a watchlist. Click the watchlist button and put in relevant search terms to find what you need to track. For instance, for my ego surf, I track: “chris brogan,” “chrisbrogan,” “chrisbrogan.com” and more. Then, click the posts tab, find the orange RSS graphic and the Subscribe text, and right-click (or CTRL-click for Mac users) and copy link location. Take this and go back to Google Reader and add the subscription. (Um, not chrisbrogan, but whatever search terms YOU want to track.) Do this for each search term until you’ve got them fairly covered.
- Google Blog Search. Similar plan here. Go to the site http://blogsearch.google.com, type in your search terms, and then note the left sidebar where you can subscribe. Copy the link location for RSS, and dump THAT into your Google Reader’s subscriptions. (Note: I have a folder entitled “ME” where all my ego surfing goes. Reader shows you how to add tags or make folders.)
- Twitter. With Twitter’s new Track feature, you see another place where information can come to you simply. Not sure if this has an RSS handle on it. You?
- Google Alerts – This is another service for tracking information and it might give you something different. You might also try Yahoo! Alerts too, to be sure you’re catching everything. (note: I currently use neither, and so can’t report if they’re especially helpful).
Apps and Special Systems
There are plenty of social media software consultants out there selling a software solution or at least a baked-up report of how to track buzz. Some of them are really good (for instance, I got a great private demo from Radian6 the other day, and I HIGHLY recommend that product). But there are lots of these that are just snake oil waiting to be snapped up by unsuspecting people who need listening. Not all (so save your flames listening/monitoring companies), but I’ve seen some doozies.
In the mean time, I’m doing my own listening using the ways I mentioned above.
Other Places to Listen
As much as I wish that Google got deep into the bowels of everything to search the Hell out of it (privacy advocates all just shuddered at my suggestion), it’s not all there yet. To that end, if there are industry trades for you to follow, get subscribing. If there are blogs pertinent to your organization or passions, get subscribing.
Pay attention to the people who are paying attention to your area. Don’t be lazy about it, but let them do *some* of the listening, too. I get lots of great information from paying attention to guys like Jeremiah Owyang, Shel Israel, Geoff Livingston and truly too many more to name here. Do the same. There are people out here looking under rocks and working in their own private labs. Learn from them.
You’ll note I didn’t mention Facebook. Know why? Because there’s only one little stitch of RSS on the whole thing: the news stream. Nice, but not especially useful to this. C’mon, Facebook. Make it easier for me to listen.
Lest we forget, I spend a LOT of time and effort crafting my blog posts such that I hope YOU contribute. Why? Because I know what I think about these things. I need you to think on them too and help complete the information.
Make it REALLY easy for people to reach you, to leave comments, to send email, to dial a phone number and leave a message. Be as multi-modal in your ways people can touch you as you possibly can.
What have I missed? You’re all good listeners. Tell me some good tips, or show people the tools I don’t yet know about. Show them YOUR hacks to this same solution, and let them better understand how YOU go about listening.
I’m over here listening for your response.
Photo credit, Paulgi