Using the social web to market your cause, communicate your services, and interact with your audience is an important part of the communication function for many socially-foucused organizations. One thing that many of these groups have found is that the internet allows us to not only tell our story, but also get an honest understanding of the perception of our organization. With that in mind, we asked you for your advice for monitoring online feedback as part of this month's Net2 Think Tank:
Topic: What are your best practices for effectively monitoring online feedback about your organization, cause, or enterprise. What are your favorite tools and tactics for listening, and how do you use your findings to inspire practical change from within?
Below, we've compiled all of the community responses.
While this month's Net2 Think Tank is now closed, you're always welcome to add your feedback on the subject. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Here are several techniques you can use to strategically listen to and interact with the people you are targeting online:
Know what people are saying about you
"Before you can start listening and monitoring feedback, you have to understand where it’s coming from. I spent my first 3 months in this position simply observing and finding the conversations. Once I knew where people talk about NTEN, I could start paying attention to what they were saying. Some people like the river, others spend all day in the wave pool; the same rule applies to social media. If you can discover what brings a group of people to your Facebook page vs. your Twitter account, you’ll really start to understand what types of conversations they want to have there. Then you can start engaging them in those conversations." - Sarah Janczak on the NTEN blog
"Is our story being told? And how is it being told? - Although this sounds dangerously close to marketing speak, it actually touches on our sense of mission and purpose. If we are working towards ultimate benefit, how is our organization being spoken about (if at all)? How about our partners? Our overall issue? By knowing the tone and extent of conversation, we can identify opportunities to more clearly advocate" - Gordon Dymowski on MetroShrink
"Who and where are people talking? - Twitter and Facebook are the de facto channels for consumer driven conversation, but for our cause? It may be better to use monitoring tools to find channels of current activity." - Gordon Dymowski on MetroShrink
"This is where the people are. If you can identify the channel that draws the largest crowd, or the most interactive crowd, you'll have the opportunity to start prioritizing your work flow. It's the place where you’re most likely to miss something when you’re in a meeting or otherwise unable to keep up in real time. It’s also the place you can try out new experiments and ask questions – and count on consistent feedback. It’s an invaluable resource for you and a link to your community, a great place to go when you need a quick snapshot of how your donors are reacting to the latest fundraising campaign and you don’t have time to sort through all the feedback." - Sarah Janczak on the NTEN blog
Make a Plan
"Spend 10 minutes each morning and sort through your day. When do you have 20 minutes to check the LinkedIn group and respond to posts there? When you have to pull together data for your dashboard, it’s ok to walk away from Twitter; just make sure you stop by and check things out later. Scheduling your day will save your brain from the oh-so-common “what was I just tweeting about?” syndrome, allowing you to write more detailed and meaningful responses when you have the time set aside." - Sarah Janczak on the NTEN blog
"I have found it helpful to have a plan in place for how the results will be used to inform decisions BEFORE starting to gather data. To easy to have goals gather data and then feel lost knowing exactly what to do with it. This can be supported by having a policy ahead of time that helps identify in part what to do with feedback as well." - Ash Shepherd on Linkedin
Keep Records and Identify Trends
"Document your findings - Creating a regular report for monitoring can be as easy as a spreadsheet or document, noting both quantitative and qualitative data. It sounds counter to wanting to engage on a human level, but what this does is allow for further justification should you require to seek funding, other organizational support, etc." - Gordon Dymowski on MetroShrink
"Look beyond the obvious - choose to observe rather than see - Part of monitoring is to find themes and patterns within online conversation, both driven by your organization and by others. Be willing to make deductions based on what you are observing, and let what you find and deduce shape your approach to social media and online conversation." - Gordon Dymowski on MetroShrink
If it Sounds Too Good to be True...
"Beware of a self-appointed “Moriarity” - Much has been said about the self-proclaimed “social media expert”; let me change this to a different type of person. A person who claims on some level to have “a web with a thousand radiations”, yet seems to have nothing more than a pleasant personality. Any efforts to engage within social media need to have a solid strategic basis which includes monitoring and further engagement." - Gordon Dymowski on MetroShrink
The following tools may help you listen, monitor, meassure, and ask questions so you can begin to understand the conversations that are of interest to you and your cause on the web:
Polldaddy - "Although as a therapist I often believe I know what people's needs are, this tool has helped me know what the customer views as their needs. It has been eye-opening to find out from them what their needs are. It helps me to know rather than guess what the needs of my customers are." - Jeffery Murrah on Linkedin
Poll Function on Hubpages - "I have also found the poll function on hubpages useful in assessing customer needs as well. The polls on hubpages has been helpful in narrowing down the needs identified with tools such as polldaddy." - Jeffery Murrah on Linkedin
"For Facebook: Edgerank for measuring the efficacy of your Facebook page, although, frankly, I’ve never had any luck raising serious money with Facebook and I think there’s so much noise there for the average person that you might have a hard time being heard. But if this is one of those things that you HAVE to do, then try this tool. "
"For Twitter: Sprout Social, which helps to measure the return and reach you’re getting with your Twitter account. It shows you how many followers you are getting, when influencers retweet you and how much this increases the radius of your tweet, and also demographic data like age and gender of your followers. You might also like TweetPsych, TweetSprout, and TweetStats."
"For your Emails: Your e-newsletter software. I prefer AWeber. You can track who opens it, when they open it, and if they click and give. So, this is another dimension of your marketing efforts that should be pretty easy to measure"
"For your website: Google Analytics. This is usually a conservative estimate of how many people are coming to your website, but it’s better than nothing. And it’s easy to set up and log into.
Learn even More:
Here are a rew more resources for you to delve even deeper into online listening:
Net2 Think Tank is a monthly blogging/social networking event open to anyone and is a great way to participate in an exchange of ideas. We post a question or topic to the NetSquared community and participants submit responses either on their own blogs, the NetSquared Community Blog, or using social media. Tag your post with "net2thinktank" and email a link to us to be included. At the end of the month, the entries get pulled together in the Net2 Think Tank Round-Up.