Listening is knowing what is being said online about your organization, field or issue area. Simply
scanning a river of information
is not enough. Listening involves
through online many conversations being held in many places including blogs and social media. The value of listening comes from making sense of the data then using it to start conversations with your supporters.
Listening is priceless because you can hear what people are saying in their natural environment. Listening helps nonprofits
improve programs and identify misconceptions
. As one nonprofit social media strategist pointed out, "Listening helps you be less of a spammer and more of a service provider."
, Social Networking Manager for the Humane Society of United States, suggests keyword searches on current issues that people are talking about as well as the issues your organization is working on. She adds,
"Don't forget to search the names of individuals who oppose your issues."
Danielle Brigida, National Wildlife Federation believes you should research which keyword phrases relate to your cause. She explains, "
It is important to listen to people based on their interests. For example, I create twitter searches for the phrase ‘kids outside' which is related to our program
and is about encouraging parents to have their children spend more time outside enjoying nature. I compliment parents."
It's also important to update and refine your keywords over time. As Wendy Harman, Social Media Strategist for the Red Cross advises,
"You may not know what is not worth searching until you try searching on it and revise it based on what you see. Don't assume that you'll get it right on the first try, either. It takes fine-tuning of those key words before you get it right."
Perhaps the most important step in being successful with social media is to
engage your audience
. Sometimes this is simply having a conversation related to your organization's communications goals. Sometimes it can be as simple as wishing someone happy birthday. The important thing is that you are connecting people to your cause effectively and earnestly.
How is your nonprofit practicing listening and engagement to your stakeholders?