"You have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you speak."
Now, if that's not the epitome of parental advice, I don't know what is. These one and two-liners may have seemed annoying or flippant when we were younger, but this saying (as well as countless others) certainly begin to take shape as you age. I have other favorites, such as "if it was easy, everyone would do it" and "don't quit until tomorrow", but there's something about knowing how to listen that's really helped me, in both my personal and professional lives.
Of course, listening doesn't just translate to audible messages - it also includes messages on social media. While community management remains an important part of your social media strategy, an increasing number of advocacy organizations recognize the capabilities of social listening for research, benchmarking, and influencer identification in order to discover opportunities or curate interesting content for your audience. Feeling overwhelmed yet? You should - the mere size of the Internet won't allow us to do this easily, so we need to employ some tools to help us. A social listening platform provides the capability of collecting conversations about a specific phrase, word, or topic and provides some degree of insights through analysis. Check out some of the options below:
As one of the best social media management tools available, it's surprising that so much of the HootSuite tool comes free. As well as some impressive publishing and engagement features, it offers some simple listening functionality, allowing users to track keywords across networks.
The freemium model of Mention will allow you to dabble in the world of social listening without making a financial commitment. Since we sometimes face limited resources in the advocacy world, this test drive could help you make a case to board members.
If you want to receive an alert every time your keywords get mentioned on blogs, forums, news sites, and social, Google Alerts is a good place to start. The main limitations here include the lack of easy analytics, and the limited range of sources it gathers data from.
If you really want to concentrate on Twitter, Topsy will provide you will the neat analytics you'll need to make a real different in your social media strategy. If time is of the essence, know that this tool can spit back results for you within seconds!
If you want a fairly comprehensive social listening tool, Social Mention gathers data from social media, blogs, forums and other sources. It also includes alerts functionality, and even has primitive sentiment analysis included. The free version doesn't have the same breadth of data as the enterprise platform, but it's certainly a good place to start.
So much of the parental advice we heard growing up proves relevant and useful in our every day lives--the importance of listening included. Plus, everybody else is doing it, so why can't you?
For access to other digital tools and tips on how to make your advocacy campaign more effective, join the Digital Advocacy Institute.