Three Levels of Listening: What To Listen For

This post can also be found at the Lunar Logic blog. Lunar Logic is a web development firm in Eugene, Oregon. I’m working on a series of posts for my friends there and this it the first.


If you’ve been pondering a social media strategy, it’s likely you’ve heard the advice to “listen first.”

Lots of super smart people have talked about how to listen and monitor with blog post upon post that provides reviews of tools and links to resources.

In fact, I’ll share some of my favorites with you.

What you don’t find written about much is what you should be listening for. Maybe it’s intuitive to some, but in my experience, once you set up Google Alerts for your name and your business name, the “what else?” question looms large.

It’s not complicated, but you need to step outside your “insider” role and think about your organization from your customer/donor/volunteer/key audience’s perspective.

As part of my Social Media Boot Camp curriculum, I developed this graphic for listening & monitoring.

I’ll take an aside here to say that listening and monitoring are not the same thing – or at least they don’t have the same purpose. Listening helps you understand your audience, your community, your market better… almost like eavesdropping. Is a passive activity and you is vital to understanding how your audience/community/market behaves and your organization’s role in it.

Monitoring is more directed. You’re monitoring for the purpose of participating and responding. It’s active and action-oriented. They can be done simultaneously, so you’ll often see them together.

Back to the “what else?” question. I break it down like this:

Level One

  • Business name
  • Product names
  • Key leadership & executives
  • Key competitors

Level Two

  • Key industry terms & phrases (news, information, trends)
  • “Point of need” questions (what do people ask that your business/product/service can “answer”)
  • Influencers

Level Three

  • Related topics, terms, trends to your organization’s core products services. Think about the lifestyle of your audiences. (ex: what else are yoga enthusiasts interested in? how about small business owners?)

The specifics will depend on your organization and your goals, but in general, you need to be listening and monitoring in all three levels. This schema is also useful for expanding your listening and monitoring as you learn more about your community (“That’s a level 3.”).

If you’re creating content (blogging, tweeting or managing a Facebook page for example), you’ll find listening and monitoring across all three levels gives you lots of great input to produce great output. Bonus!

What would you add? Anything that you’ve found works really well for listening & monitoring?

Summer Resolution #1: Start Reading, Listening

If you’re thinking about getting started in social media and have designated “this summer” as a chance to do so, the first thing you should do is start reading. Find 10 or 20 (or more) blogs that cover areas of public relations, marketing and social media that you’re interested in and start reading.

Not sure how to begin? Two PR agencies (and me) have created tools to get you started.

Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence’s Daily Influence: Powered by Netvibes (also my feed reader of choice), Daily Influence has tabs for categories in advertising, public relations and social media and subscribes to a lot of the most influential blogs in each. You can create an account on Netvibes and customize your page based on Daily Influence. Keep what you like, delete what you don’t and add in your own.

MWW Group’s M.Insight is a mobile app, which rules. You can get it on the iPhone, Blackberry and phones with Windows Mobile. Again, the application is a starter pack of the best blogs to read – and now in an on-the-go variety. The application is free (yay, free!) and is also customizable. I have it on my iPhone and really like it. It’s a good mix of stuff, most of which I subscribe to and the application is quite intuitive.

Finally, I’ve taken my social media, PR and PR educator tabs and created a public site. It works a lot like the Ogilvy Daily Influence because it’s on Netvibes, too. Compare all three recommendations here and you’ll get a very full list of PR and social media blogs that are worth reading.

Create a habit of checking your feed reader regularly (make it your home page!) and you’ll be on your way! Questions? Just ask!

For those of you who are vets at this stuff, leave your tips!

Monitoring Buzz About Your Organization

In an entry level job, particularly in agencies, you might be tasked with monitoring media coverage. You might need to read trade magazines, or scour the Internet for mentions of your client, the competition or industry news and information.

Marketing Pilgrim has a great list of 26 free tools for monitoring buzz. Check it out (and try it out… Impress your clients).

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