How to Use Social Listening to Track Clients and Competitors

social listening toolsSocial channels aren’t just powerful conversation tools—they provide ample opportunities for social listening, too. And social listening can provide a wealth of information for you, for your clients and the industries they serve, as well as for purposes of competitive analysis. Whether you’re monitoring social networks for information about yourself, your clients, your competitors or your industry, there are a number of resources that can help you regularly gather pertinent subject matter from fast-moving conversation streams.

Of course, you probably realize that one of the best ways to stay up-to-date with what people are saying is to actively participate in online conversations yourself. However, we understand full well how overwhelming trying to keep track of the quickly moving information stream can be. Here are some tools that you can use to help do some of the work for you, making it easier for you to stay on top of and connected to the information you need to effectively manage your brand.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts? Well, for each one of you saying “Google Alerts, no duh” I can assure you there are ten fabulously intelligent business people out there who either don’t know about Google Alerts or who don’t yet use them. I speak to audiences filled with these people on pretty much a weekly basis so go roll your eyes somewhere else—this tip’s for them. Google Alerts are fast, free and a snap to set up. Try creating Google Alerts for yourself, your company, your clients and your industry. Oh, and don’t forget to set up alerts on your competitors. It’ll take you all of about five minutes to set up your first batch of Google Alerts and once you do, you’ll be hooked.

Search Facebook Without Logging In

People and brands share a lot of information on Facebook—and that means the site is a super source of industry expertise and data mining opportunities. And the best part? You don’t necessarily have to be logged in to Facebook to search for relevant resources. Yippee! Instead, slide over to www.openstatussearch.com, enter your search terms and you’ll pull results from Facebook’s public timeline. This is a great source for oh so many things—content, inspiration, competitive research, great links and all other kinds of goodies.

Advanced Twitter Search

I love Twitter. And it’s a veritable font of real-time information–think of it as an instant focus group that immediately dials you in to what’s trending all over the world–and so many other things. Make sure to stalk, I mean follow, your competitors and others important to your brand or your clients and prospects and put the information you can gather there to good use as you work to develop and craft your integrated marketing strategies. And to get the most out of Twitter, check out Advanced Twitter Search. Go to search.twitter.com, select “Advanced Search” located just below the search bar and input your search terms. Use the information you gather to do competitive research, help build a Twitter following or simply stay on top of what’s happening with your clients, prospects and competitors. And if you’d like Twitter search results delivered directly to your inbox, try SocialOomph or Twilerts.

Google+ Search

Harness the power of Google within Google+ by simply inputting your search query at the top of your Google+ homepage. One of our favorite parts of Google+ search is that you can narrow your search results down to several categories: people and pages, Google+ posts, hangouts, events, sparks and more. Try paring down your search results to help with your specific goal. Looking to help build your followers in a certain subject area, perhaps? Try focusing on people and pages. On the search for content ideas and resources? Google+ posts will be your best bet.

There you have it. Four simple tools that you can immediately begin using to do a better job of social listening. And as much as we all love talking, sometimes piping down and just focusing on listening can be pretty valuable.

What are your favorite tools and tricks for social listening? I’d love to know your secrets.

Image by armigeress via Creative Commons

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