Five Quick Ways to Boost Your Social Media Listening

Five Quick Ways to Boost Your Social Media Listening

Five Quick Ways to Boost Your Social Media Listening

People are always complaining about the amount of noise there is on social media. Clients want to know how to cut through the tremendous ruckus and hear the good stuff. Here are some surefire ways to listen better.

Twitter Lists for the Win

My number one piece of advice for new clients is to set up lists on Twitter. You can make them secret or public, but either way a list is how you can follow many people and listen to the best ones. For a deeper dive, here’s my post about lists for the power user.

Google Alerts

Did you know that you could set up a Google alert for any keyword you like and then add it to a column in Hootsuite? Each Google Alert has an RSS feed. So for instance, if you have a Google Alert for your own name, you can add that. You could set one up for all the people in your startup so you can monitor who’s talking about you. Then put them into columns using HootSuite Syndicator.

 downtown night photo

Facebook Groups

You can have different groups on Facebook. That is, you can create groups of friends, people who are restricted, or those you’d like to see less of in your newsfeed. It’s already built into Facebook. So if your coworker is meddlesome, put him in a group other than “friends.”

farming photo

Photo by Moyan_Brenn

Personal Hashtags

You can create your own hashtag by typing a pound sign (#) in front of any word. Use it to organize a search or any time you want to be found. Make sure your content matches your hashtag. For instance, my chat on Twitter is #DigiBlogChat. For a deeper dive into hashtags, read the excellent The Only Hashtag Guide You’ll Ever Need.

 farming photo

Pinterest Guided Search

If you’re on Pinterest, use the guided search. You can pin from the feed, but a better way is to use the guided search. Listen to what people are pinning on a particular topic relevant to your business. Start with the highest-level (for instance, a hair dresser might search on “short hair,” then let Pinterest guide your search.

baseball photo

Local Search by Keyword

If you’re a brick-and-mortar store, you could search by hashtag to see what people in your area are saying. For instance #SF or #SanFrancisco. I search on #SantaCruz in Twitter quite a bit. Then retweet, repost, or comment on those posts. Brainstorm other keywords your ideal audience might be using.

Make Listening a Habit

Julian Treasure, in his wonderful TED Talk about listening better, recommends trying to listen to different channels to deepen one’s connection to the world around us. If you have a chance to listen to his video, please do.



  1. Thanks Carol! All of these are very good suggestions!

  2. i didn’t know about Google Alert RSS Feed Import into Hootsuite. Clearly, I need that.

    I love the TED Talk you included in the end, too.

    Listening is important.

    • Hi Bridget,

      Yep, although it’s not as straightforward as it could be. I may write another blog post about how to do that. Because it’s pretty cool.

      Thanks as always for all your support!


  3. Hi Carol

    Normally I just like to cover my ears with both hands and shout as loud as I can into cyberspace.

    But I guess you’re right. Listening is important.

    I’ve often read advice along the lines of trying to jump onto twitter exchanges relevant to your brand and divert people to your website. Do you advocate this strategy and has it worked for you?


    • Hi Clement,

      Hah! I can picture you covering your ears with your hands, shouting!

      Unfortunately, the answer to the question about jumping into Twitter exchanges relevant to your brand is: it depends. I’ve jumped in before, but usually say something along the lines of “couldn’t help but overhear you…” and that does work. Most people don’t mind others joining a conversation as long as it’s done politely.


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