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.


11 Ways Being Outdoors Can Improve Your Productivity

Most lists only go to ten, but this one goes to eleven! There’s just that little bit more, you see, right at the end. It’s just that much more productive.

Get Better Sleep

When you’re more relaxed, you sleep better, and when you sleep better, you’re more productive.

11 Ways Being Outdoors Can Improve Your Productivity

11 Ways Being Outdoors Can Improve Your Productivity

Have A Better Attention Span

Being outdoors helps you clear your mind, focus on the present moment, and not stress over something an hour or two in the future. And being outdoors during the workday gives you an edge, according to’s article about how exercise boosts your brainpower.

Be Reminded of Childhood Memories

Certain sights, sounds and scents outdoors can remind you of childhood memories. For instance, redwood trees remind my boyfriend of where he grew up in the far north of California; the trees have a relaxing effect and make him feel at ease. Certain vistas, even particular configurations of fallen trees also bring back memories. And of course scents are closely linked to memory. That “walk down memory lane” can bring you a more productive day–that is, if your childhood memories are happy ones.

Be More Relaxed

Can anything new be said about being outdoors and being relaxed? One study suggest that even looking at greenery can make people more productive. A study by Frances Kuo, at the University of Illinois, focused on women in Chicago. Kuo and her colleagues compared women randomly assigned to various apartments. Some had a view of nothing but concrete sprawl, the blacktop of parking lots and basketball courts. Others looked out on grassy courtyards filled with trees and flowerbeds. Kuo then measured the two groups on a variety of tasks, from basic tests of attention to surveys that looked at how the women were handling major life challenges. She found that living in an apartment with a view of greenery led to significant improvements in every category.

Enter Another Realm

When you’re outdoors, you can think about something entirely different than work and getting that next item on your “to-do” list checked off. You can clear your mind to focus entirely on where you are, or that next step on the beach. Even a walk in a city park, where there is greenery, is superior to walking on city streets. Here’s a good article from Lifehacker about surrounding yourself with nature to be more productive.

Dream of Ewoks

Ewoks are sentient, diminutive, furry bipeds native to the forest moon of Endor, as described in the Star Wars’ Wookieepedia. When you’re out and about traveling in the woods, you can feel their presence. They’re especially prevalent in the woods, near where I live.

People who exercised during their workday were 23 % more productive on those days!

People who exercised during their workday were 23 % more productive on those days!

Get Aerobic Exercise

Hiking up and down steep hills and cutting across rocky outcroppings will make your heart pump hard. When you’re indoors all day long, you may not realize how shallow your breathing becomes; being outdoors in nature helps to cure that restricted breathing.

Reduce Stress

Although a certain amount of stress can be helpful (for instance if you’re being chased by a bear), stress usually makes people less productive. Being outdoors is widely known to reduce stress.

Do You Have a Nature Deficit?

Do You Have a Nature Deficit?

Practice Listening

The sounds in the forest or at the beach are much different and more subtle. Practice a different kind of listening when you’re outdoors (not that you can’t use Twitter as a listening tool). And if you didn’t read my article from last week about listening, you might want to.

Recovery Leads to Better Productivity

No one can be productive at the same rate every day, and everyone needs some recovery time. So taking an hour or two to be outdoors brings you back to your work, as outlined in Daniel McGinn’s article about Being More Productive from Harvard Business Review.

Being in Nature Makes You Smarter

According to this article Is a Nature Deficit Hurting Your Productivity? ,” being in nature exposes you to soothing stimuli that engages your involuntary attention, giving your directed-attention a rest and a chance to become rejuvenated.” And if you’ve read this far, then maybe I’ve convinced you to go to the park. It’s a start.






Five Hidden Benefits of Listening

Five Hidden Benefits of Listening

Five Hidden Benefits of Listening

Coming up with content 24×7 gets old really fast. But what if there were some other way than blasting out your own content all day long? Something easier, some way you could get your stream filled with content without being in complete broadcast mode all the time. What if you could stop being like a one-way valve and have a two-way valve instead as part of your social media strategy? Crazy, right?

Intensify Conversations

What if you went to a party and talked about yourself the entire time? That would be pretty boring! And yet, some people still talk non-stop at parties. But if you listened twice as much as you talked, you might learn some things about your new and old friends. The same concept applies online. As  David Tovey says, hearing is not listening.

Take the Strain Off Yourself

Although listening might sound more difficult than talking, all it requires is that you be fully present. That is, ready to listen and free of distracting thoughts. That may seem a little “zen” to you–like a meditation. And listening can also involve watching the other person’s posture, mannerisms, and all the different tones in their voice. So instead of hearing your own inner thoughts, for a few minutes you can focus completely on someone else. Think of it as a mini-vacation, a way to balance your online life.

Listen Without Expectation

When I searched online for “listening,” there was an image of a shower head on the site–someone out there has been listening to my online searches. They wanted to sell me something. However, that’s different than not having any expectation than to hear. And it’s tricky to not be waiting with something to say, but to listen with no advice, no retort, and no pushing your own agenda!

Be Unique

Everyone (on social media or not), is spewing information. We are up to our ears in information. And if you believe, as Julian Treasure outlines in his excellent TED Talk 5 Ways to Listen Better, that we are “losing our listening,” then it’s extremely important to work on this vanishing skill. Rather than reducing your friends’ thoughts and words to sound bites, listening fully lets them express the subtlety of their experiences–and lets you shine by being unique.

Start participating by listening

Start participating by listening

Save Time

What if you knew what your clients were thinking about? Or what your friends were focused on? You can! Just ask them. It’s that simple. Be creative in how you reach out. Try asking in a simple, yet direct way. “What’s the haps? Or “what’s new, Daddy-O?” are sure to elicit a smile. Rather than worrying about what they might be thinking, ask and then listen.

Be a Great Conversationalist

Here is my call to action for this post. For one day, try listening. Repost, retweet, and talk to people online. Could you do that? I’d be willing to bet that most people will say that you’re a great conversationalist! Like Ted Rubin says “Jump in & do it.”

Let me know how that goes. Although some of you are probably already there, listening.




Twitter as a Listening Tool

Listening Tool 60 kb

One day, while chatting on Twitter, I got this tweet from @Tsledzik, above, and got to thinking about how to use Twitter as a listening tool. Yes, everyeone says Twitter can be used that way, but how does that work? What does that look like on a day-to-day basis? Large companies or brands can search on their own names or special hashtags. But how can a Startup just starting out or smaller company use Twitter as a listening platform? Here are a few simple ideas.

Use Twitter to Listen

Use Twitter to Listen

Click on @ mentions

From the Twitter client, click on the @ or connect sign right at the top of the screen. Your interactions will appear in the column and you can easily thank or respond to people. Yes, this is basic, but some people only seem to use Twitter to broadcast, and listening doesn’t even occur to them.

Use Hashtags to Search

Use Hashtags to Search

Not only can you use hashtags to allow people to search for your tweets, you can use them to search for any topic you can think of that might allow you to start conversations. For example, type in #Startup in the search bar to find others tweeting about startups. In the example above, I searched on #Startup problems, with only the word “startup” hashtagged (it’s unlikely that #StartupProblems would give many results). Now you have a whole string of possible people to talk to. Note: the top result is promoted, and like the top search results on Google, you may want to overlook it.

Create a List

You may want to listen to local news through Twitter, or what people in a certain geographic area are saying. You can create a list called “Locals” or “San Francisco” and add people to that list. This is a great way to cut down on the “noise” of Twitter. And you can make your list private or public, depending upon whether you want to be in stealth mode.

Trending Topics

Trending Topics

Another easy way to listen on Twitter is to monitor trending topics. They are in the left-hand column. When I wrote this post, #ParentsFavoriteLine was trending, which seemed to be mostly kids making fun of things their parents said. That might be a good one for a teacher to monitor. Trending topics change quite often during the day, and are a good way to keep up on popular news. Here’s a fascinating article on MIT’s algorithm on predicting trending topics.

How Do You Listen?

I would love to hear what you have to say! Leave me a comment below! Thank you!


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