How to Listen to Your Online Community


Social media does a great job giving you ways to tell things to the world. The moment something happens all of your Facebook and Twitter followers can know about it. While this advancement in broadcasting is great and a marvel of modern technology, as with any relationship, listening is even more important than telling.

Listening can help you figure out what to post on your social media sites, keep you up-to-date with what other organizations are doing, and keep you aware of the latest news. Today, we are going to look at two tools that you can set-up to help you listen to your online community.

Google Alerts

Google has a product for almost everything, but Google Alerts is perhaps the most overlooked. This product will keep a watchful eye on the internet for key words and phases and send you an email whenever one of those words or phrases is mentioned.

For example, if your organization provides after-school programing for children, you can set up a Google Alert with the term “after-school programing” and Google will send you an email mentioning the latest news, blogs, or YouTube videos posted on the subject.

Depending on the search term, you might not want a notification every single time it is mentioned, which is why Google Alerts allows you to set contact frequency for daily or weekly.

Google Alerts are also really helpful when monitoring what people are saying about your brand. For example, you can set-up and alert with the name of your organization and know when someone else mentions you on their blog post or in an article.

Twitter Search

While Twitter doesn’t offer an alert function, there is something equally as useful pertaining to “search” functionality that you are able to save.

On the Twitter home page, in the top right corner is a search box. Any term that you searched for can be saved and Twitter will update it with the most recent tweets on the subject. If you click on the gear box on the right corner of the results, you can do an advanced search which allows you to set-up even more search parameters.

What I really like about the Twitter search function is that you can look for tweets by location and include positive or negative tweets in your search as well. Based on your search term, Twitter also suggests new people to follow so that you can expand your community based upon the search you just conducted.

Additionally, some social media managers like Tweet Deck and Hootsuite allow you to save Twitter searches within their program so that you don’t have to go back to the Twitter home page to do it.

Taking a few minutes to set up a Google Alert or two and save some searches in Twitter can save you time when it comes to finding content to post, resources for articles, and figuring out what your online community wants to hear from your non-profit agency.

Other social networking sites like Google+ and LinkedIn also have search functions that you might want to investigate.

However, I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to set-up alerts focused on your agency and the names of any other organizations with similar missions as yours. This way you can keep your ear to the ground and know what people are saying in your community.

Do you use Google Alerts or Twitter search already? Are they helpful to you? Do you have other tools that you use to help you achieve the same goal? Let’s talk about it in the comment section below.

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About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on June 11, 2012, in Mondays with Marissa, nonprofit, technology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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