People are using the Internet to talk about your brand and your products – are you listening? Do you know how to listen? Listening is easier then you think, and you don’t have to buy an expensive monitoring tool to do it, either.
Want to know what people are saying about you on Twitter? Facebook? Blogs? Forums? No problem.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to set up the ultimate listening station using Google Reader, a free tool.
For this hypothetical example, we’ll be setting up a listening station for the New England Patriots, since lots of people like to talk about the Pats online.
1. Sign up for a Google Reader account (this may require signing up for a Google account, if you don’t already have one)
2. Set up Google Alerts for relevant keywords. Choose the comprehensive search, and set the delivery option to feed. Click create alert, and then on the following screen, click view in Google Reader. You should now be subscribed to your Google Alert in your Google Reader. Repeat as necessary.
Note: you may experience some overlap between your Google Alerts and the other feeds we’ll set up below. This is OK.
3. Go to Twitter Search. Run a search for a relevant keyword term, like “New England Patriots”. Click on feed for this query on the right hand side of the screen. Add to your Google Reader account. Is your search for a particular geographic area? Use Twitter’s Advanced Search to narrow your search by geographic area. Repeat as necessary.
4. Facebook has a search feature, but does not allow you to subscribe to searches via RSS. But there is another option. Go to Social Mention and select Facebook by clicking on the select social media sources option underneath the search box. Run your search and subscribe by clicking on the RSS feed icon on the right hand side of the search results screen. Add to your reader account. Repeat as necessary.
5. What about forums? There’s probably a lot of discussion about the Patriots on sports forums, right? Go to BoardReader, run a search for your target query. On the search results screen, hover over the show tools link, and select RSS. Add to your reader account. Repeat as necessary.
Note: at the time of this post, both BoardReader and BoardTracker were having technical difficulties, and I was unable to get RSS subscriptions to work. The above info is how you would set it up if it were working correctly.
6. Now for the blogs. Several options exist for searching blog posts. Google Blog Search and IceRocket can both get the job done. For this tutorial I’m going to use Social Mention again. Follow the same process as you did for step #4. Only this time, select the blogs option to the right of the search box. Subscribe to the results via RSS, and add to your Google Reader account. Repeat as necessary.
7. YouTube. There’s probably a lot of activity on YouTube for New England Patriots clips. Go to YouTube. Search for your relevant keyword term. On the results page, click on the RSS icon in your browser’s address bar. Add to Google Reader, repeat as necessary.
8. Flickr. At this point in time, Flickr does not allow you to subscribe to keyword searches. So we must turn to Social Mention once more. Follow the same steps as you did on step #4, only this time, select Flickr instead of Facebook. Subscribe to the RSS feed on Google Reader. Repeat as necessary.
9. Any other unmentioned website or media platform. Go to the site. Run a search for a target keyword phrase. Look for RSS subscribe options. If an option does not exist, check a website like Social Mention.
Organize Your Findings
By now, you should have several feeds set up for a variety of searches. Here’s how to organize your Google Reader account for easy reading.
1. Go to Google Reader.
2. Click on settings.
3. Then click on Google Reader settings.
4. Click on the subscriptions tab.
5. Start organizing your feeds into folders, in this example, I’ll group feeds into folders by keyword. You could also group by medium, or if you do this for multiple clients – by client.
6. When you’re done, your reader might look something like the picture below.
And that’s it! You’re now set up to monitor your brand or business across a variety of popular platforms and it’s all free.
Got any questions? Leave them in the comments!