The best communicators listen more than they talk.

The rule extends to social media, but, too often, organizations spend all of their time talking on social media. It is more a megaphone than headphones. However, you should treat it more like your phone’s headset – two earphones, one microphone. Listen on social media at least twice as much as you talk.

People have always been talking, sharing, complaining, complimenting, and advocating. Long before social media, your members, employees, customers, competitors, policy makers, etc. sat around the coffee shops, churches, stores, conferences, living rooms, and offices talking. You found success by getting out, talking to people, and listening. That is still important – you can’t just sit behind your desk. But, now, we have a way to listen in and learn from even more conversations, in near real-time. Don’t let this opportunity slip by you.

The Advantages

  • Learn industry trends
  • Hear what others are saying about your association
  • Understand what is important to your members
  • Find future members
  • See what other associations doing

It will take work and effort, but all things worthwhile do. Thankfully, there are more tools than you would ever need to make the job easier and more efficient. Below are some tools to consider.

Tools for Listening

  • Hootsuite – allows you to monitor and post to most social media channels, offering a dashboard to view several streams at once. You can setup keywords and hastags to monitor in addition to your standard feeds. Free and paid memerships.
  • TweetDeck – similar functionality as Hootsuite, but limited to Twitter. Free.
  • IceRocket – Specializes in searching blogs and Twitter. Free.
  • Social Mention – Searches across social media channels and has limited analysis. Free.
  • Google Alerts – free alerts for any word or phrase that appears on websites. Don’t expect it to cover social media. Free.
  • Paid Services – ViralHeatSysomosZoomph, and Datasift are a few. They are professional-grade and come with a professional-grade price. However, it could be valuable, depending on your level of engagement and the size of your organization.

What to Listen For

  • Your associations name, including common misspellings
  • Your leadership
  • Industry news
  • Popular hashtags in your industry or issue area (make #assnchat your first one)
  • Competitors
  • Topic or geographic areas of interest

It will take a while to get into a rhythm, but, it will get easier. At that point, you may want to polish up your findings and analysis for applicable findings into regular reports to your membership.

In any case, listening more than you talk to social media will serve your association well.