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How To: Get Social Media ESP

by James Ball on December 1, 2009

Listen

I didn’t “get it” for a long time. Most of the people I talk to don’t “get it” either. It is paramount in engagement, and yet many of us think that we can manage well enough without it. It’s free to anyone that wants it, and you can have it TODAY!

**LISTENING**

Before you run away, consider this: This may be the one thing, which if refined, can pull it all together for you and you business. Social media can help you, today. If I had to name only one thing to define the difference between the social media “elite” and those who seem perpetually confused, it would be listening. Social media is communication, right? Communication essentially has only two parts, talking and listening. While I do place greater emphasis on listening much of the time, can we agree here that these two are at least equal in importance?

To my great surprise, Brian Solis stopped in here and left a comment yesterday. I didn’t ask him to, all I did was mention and link to him. He was listening somehow, and he heard his name. He’s thousands of miles away, we’ve never met, and he’s obviously got ESP. It was a confirmation of sorts.

I have no superpowers, but I do shop at the superhero supply store. I grabbed some cool stuff for you too. I put a blogroll and some widgets right here on this page for you, to help make listening easier for you while you’re here.  Click around a bit, you may find some things worthy of a closer listen!

Listed are a few of my favorite listening tools and what I use them for:

  • Google Alerts – I use this to listen for my name, my company’s name, the URL’s that are associated with both, and I listen for what my competitors and alliances are doing. Google Alerts delivers an email to me when any of this shows up anywhere online.
  • TweetDeck– Twitter is quite possibly the best place for listening. To do so using the Twitter.com site is not really effective for me. Even when using tools and applications, Twitter is noisy and difficult to navigate efficiently. TweetDeck lets me filter the noise by allowing me to create filters for the things I want to hear about. I place these things into columns. I have columns for two Twitter accounts that I monitor. I listen for any @ mentions of my name in two columns, one for each Twitter ID. Two columns are for direct messages to both accounts. I have a column that searches for the word “Georgia”, and another that searches for the phrase “social media”. I have a custom “Watching” column for each account, in these two columns I select friends, thought leaders, competitors, and other people that have something to say that relates to my business. I also set up columns that watch just one person’s tweets and the things others say to them.
  • Google Reader – This is an aggregator that uses RSS to collect all of the blogs and websites that I want to follow. When I open the reader each day, everything new from every site and blog I follow is right there in a neatly organized list.

Many places that I frequent online, sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, allow you to filter your notification settings. Nobody wants to be covered up in pointless emails, but set your preferences up to insure that you don’t miss an important conversation that you ought to be participating in. Develop and refine your listening practices in social media. If you are not actively listening, you truly are missing the larger part of what social media has to offer for your business.

These are some of the things I do in order to listen well. I didn’t always listen at all, but as I’ve developed and refined my listening habits, my business and my presence have noticeably benefited from this part of what I do each day. Please take just a minute and comment. What are your tools for listening? What has made the difference for you?

*Knowing what you are listening for is a topic in itself. I did want to share this article here today though.

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