Social listening is one of those buzzing trends in business, but what is social listening and how can you use it to help your blog? Social listening is just what it sounds like, listening for social conversations and trends surrounding your brand. There are a variety of free tools you can use to do this, and I’m going to share two of my favorites with you today.
Why Social Listening
Your blog is your brand. I really cannot stress this enough. Just like big brands engage in social listening, you should too. You don’t need to use the fancy tools that large corporations do, because there probably isn’t as much out there about your blog. But it’s important to listen to what people are saying.
In addition to monitoring your brand name(s), you can also monitor keywords in your niche to get ideas for blog posts and stay on top of trends. I’ll talk a little more about each of these in the following sections.
I’m a big fan of TweetDeck for social listening, because it’s free, easy to use, and let’s you listen to a lot of different things at once.
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There are a few “must have” columns for TweetDeck, the first one being your @ replies. To get a more accurate reading in this column, make sure you set up your social sharing on your blog to include your twitter handle when someone tweets one of your blog posts. You’ll also want to set up a search column for your name, and another for your blog name. This way you can see when people are talking about you or your blog without tagging you.
You’ll also want to set up columns for popular hashtags within your niche. #SITS31DBBB is a great one for any blogger, as is #blogchat. Depending on your niche, you may also want to use #crafterminds, #prchat, or another hashtag. Keep an eye out for hashtags that other bloggers in your niche are using.
Trending Topics is another great column to keep open. This will show you what’s popular on twitter right now, and you can use it to jump into other popular conversations or write a blog post about a breaking event.
I love Google Alerts, they’re one of the best free tools out there. To set them up, sign in to your Google account. On that black bar at the top, click on “More”, then “Even More”. The link to set up Google Alerts is under “Specialized Search”.
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If you do nothing else, be sure to set up alerts for your name and your blog name. When you do this, use quotes. For example, I have an alert for “Anne Hogan” instead of Anne Hogan. This way I only get results for my name, and not the entire phone book or a page that mentions “Anne” and “Hogan” somewhere.
You can also use Google Alerts to monitor your niche, but be sure to make sure you use specific terms. If you have a photography blog, don’t set up an alert for “photography” because you’ll get a ton of results, most of which won’t be relevant. Instead, you might want to set an alert for “nature photography” or “infant photography” so you get fewer results that are more relevant.
The beauty of Google Alerts is that you can play around with the terms and change them as much as you want. If you find that your search terms are too narrow and you’re not getting enough results, you can change the term. This goes for getting too many results as well. Play around with your search terms and see what kind of results you get – keep refining them until you’re happy with the results you’re getting.
Go Do It!
Do you use social listening for you blog? What are your favorite tools? Do you have questions about setting up searches in TweetDeck or Google Alerts? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I’m happy to answer questions!