Listening to and monitoring activity online to inform your approach

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Listening to your customers through effective insight programs, like perception surveys are, of course, one way of monitoring the sentiment you're customers feel about your organisation, as well as the anecdotal feedback that you can gather from your call agents. But online is different, how do you know where to focus your energy?

You could have an engaged Facebook group, where you get to share your next innovative approach before going mainstream, or to seek guidance about your upcoming service change, but are you reading between the lines of the general conversations? Also, what about those who are talking about you in threads where you're not tagged, or bloggers and vloggers are slating or celebrating your service?

To those who don't yet have a budget to invest in a proper social media monitoring tool, there's one solution that I swear by, and that's Google.

Google Alerts is a simple to use monitoring method that requires no knowledge of boolean logic or advanced search features. Simply enter the keywords you want Google to monitor for you, and you're away.

Here's an example of my keyword: iMattSmart.

I'm a member of the Unsplash community, and I share some images on there for others to use. When someone uses my pictures, there isn't a rule that states they need to credit me, but sometimes people do, which is nice! As you can see here, there have been several professional industries who have used my images for their blogs, and they have popped 'Photo Credit: iMattSmart' on the page. When Google runs it's crawlers across websites, and it sees new pages, it translates that information for future search results (which is why blogging is great for SEO!). Still, it also considers the alert set up by myself and links the two, Google thinks for a second and then lets me know my keyword is in use. That is how the alert works.

Using very generic words is not advisable, you'll get alerts all day every day, so think hard about what you want the trigger to be. It could be the name of your business, your name or a brand or specific product you sell.

Depending on what the alerts return will dictate the next steps. It could be that you quickly recognise a brand advocate that is blogging about your products or service, and you can respond. A great way to identify influencers with whom you can get involved in future campaigns! Or, if the sentiment is weak, you can reach out and put things right.

Google Alerts aren't the only way. I have already mentioned community, but how do you leverage it? Engaging and keeping the conversation going is one thing. Getting your audience involved in new services is something else. But the best thing to realise is their tone of voice. How do they receive your latest changes or the way you have handled a crisis? It's your community that will tell you the truth, and it's up to you how you respond, but understand that not responding at all is more damaging than getting wrong because you tried.

How do you listen to what the word on the street is?

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