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Allyson Kapin 7 min read

Top Five Tools for Listening on the Social Web

 Moving from a 1.0 world to a 2.0 world can be very scary for nonprofits. Senior leadership, in particular, isn’t comfortable giving up power and fear that they will lose control of their core messaging. It’s critical that nonprofits face their fears and take control. Why? Because conversations about the issues you work on are consistently happening all over the web. Your nonprofit can either choose to join those conversations and help steer them or face the consequences. Being left out of online conversations not only gives your competitors the advantage of dominating discussions, it can often frame competitors as “the” leader around your issues in the online space. That’s not good!

If your nonprofit wants to start engaging in online conversations, first you need to start by listening to what people are saying about your organization and the issues you work on. You will want to analyze the competition too. Here are some of my favorite online listening and analytics tools.

Lay Of The Land: Who’s Saying What?

1. Addictomatic: This is by far the easiest way to create a listening dashboard for free. Type in a search term and it will generate the latest news, blog posts, videos and even images around the keyword. After it generates results (using a variety of search engines, news sites and social networks) you can personalize the dashboard. Bookmark it and check it daily. 

2. Topsy: Part search engine, part social web connector. When you search for something on Topsy, such as “climate change”, Topsy finds daily conversations that match the search term. The results are the items people link to, when discussing your search term via a social network, news website, blog, etc. Topsy ranks results based on how well they match your search terms, and the “influence” of the people tweeting or writing about your issue. Bonus: It links to the conversationalists twitter profiles so you can follow them and engage with them on Twitter.


The Competition: How Do You Measure Up?

3. TwitterCounter: This is a great, free tool that quickly charts your organization’s growth on Twitter through your followers. Specifically it tracks your followers, who you are following, and number of tweets. It also provides averages such as average number of new followers daily. The premium version (about $15 a month) provides a deeper analysis and export options.

4. FollowerWonk: There are two cool components to FollowerWonk. First, your nonprofit can track your competition on Twitter and see how many followers they have and how many people they are following. It also shows you if your organizations “followers” and “following” overlap. Many organizations are surprised to learn that competitors often don’t share the same followers.

Second, you can track people on Twitter who are interested in your issues. Type in a search term on FollowerWonk and it will generate a list of the people on Twitter (ranked by the most amount of followers) who have that search term in their bio. http://www.followerwonk.com


5. Is Your Content Engaging Your Target Audiences?

PostRank: The PostRank Analytics package is a good investment if your organization wants to learn what content resonates (or doesn’t) with audiences across the social web. For example after web visitors click on a landing page, are they also tweeting it, digging it, etc? You can even track the reach of each page of your website. Bonus: It integrates with Google Analytics.


Who Has Time for All This Listening?

You probably wear many hats at your nonprofit and can’t spend half your day listening. Start out by selecting a couple of the listening tools and experiment with them for one month at least 3x a week. Use the results to help guide you in engaging with your audiences more. In 4-6 weeks move on and test 1-2 more tools. Bottom line - the more time you put in, the more you will get out.

Do you have other listening tools that are helpful to your organization? I would love to hear about them too.


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Allyson Kapin

Allyson has been named one of "Top Tech Titans" by the Washingtonian, one of the Most Influential Women In Tech by Fast Company, and one of the top 30 women entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Forbes for her leadership role in technology and social media. As Founding Partner of Rad Campaign, she leads the firm's client and online strategic services. For over a decade Allyson has helped non-profit organizations and political campaigns create dynamic and award-winning websites and online marketing and recruitment campaigns. She works side-by-side with her clients to meet their web needs and maximize their online effectiveness to create real world impact.