1. Get Your Organization Ready

You'll need to figure out an internal process to do your listening. Who will do the nitty gritty work? Will other people respond? If you're working an intern, will they empowered to respond to comments? How will you share the information with other people on staff??

Beth Kanter, Examples of How Listening Returns Value for Nonprofit Organizations
Beth Kanter, Getting Your Nonprofit Ready To Listen
Dave Fleet, 25 Questions To Make Your Social Media Work Flow More Efficient

2. Use your RSS Reader like a Rock Star

Using an RSS Reader will make your listening work efficient and not clutter up your email.
Here are a few popular readers:

You'll be creating a listening "dashboard" in your reader. Here's how Carie Lewis of the Humane Society uses Igoogle as her dashboard
Here's some simple steps for setting this up

Good RSS Habits
  • Set up aside a small block of time to read your feeds everyday
  • Clean house often, RSS subscriptions tend to pile up
  • Don't feel like you have to read every post on every blog, use the "Mark Read" option

Sink or Swim, Managing RSS Feeds with Better Groups by 43 folders
NpTech 101: How I read 2,000 Articles in 30 Days by Chas Grundy
Wrangling your RSS Feeds by Amy Sample Ward

3. Brainstorm Keywords

The basic keywords you'll want to monitor are:
  • Other nonprofit names in your space
  • Program, services, and event names
  • CEO or well-known personalities associated with your organization
  • Other nonprofits with similar program names
  • Your brand or tagline
  • URLs for your blog, web site, online community
  • Industry terms or other phrases that illustrate need

Get creative! Involve other people in your organization.

Here's a few tools to help:
Google Ads Keyword Tool
Most Frequently Mispelled Search Terms
Tips for Expanding Keyword Lists

Beth Kanter, Listening Literacy Skills
Ashkan, Keyword Research 101

4. Set Up Your Listening Dashboard

The time consuming part of this process is the set up. Once you've set it up, it will take you a few hours a week to listen and respond, depending on volume.

  • Do search at site for the first time
  • Add a RSS feed to your reader
  • Monitor in your reader, engage when needed


If you want to explore other free monitoring tools, here's a mega list.

Top Ten Free Monitoring Tools by Dan Schawbel
How To Set Up A Listening Post on Twitter by Beth Kanter
Examples of Keyword Searches by Frank Barry

You'll want to identify and follow key bloggers in your nonprofit space, especially if you are planning to blog or doing any blogger relations program.

  • Define Your Niche
  • Find Bridge bloggers alltop.com
  • Add them to your RSS Reader

Finding Bridge Bloggers by Beth Kanter
A Poor Man's Guide To Finding the Influencers by Mike Nelson

You can monitor social networks and YouTube for mentions of your organization and issue. It is important to do this type of listening as a prelude to setting up your own profile or placing videos on YouTube - and as an going part of your social media strategy.

  • Social networks
  • YouTube

How to Listen on Social Networks by KD Paine
How to Listen on YouTube by KD Paine
Social Media Listening Wiki by Beth Kanter

5. Conduct Start Listening and Refine

Your initial listening might seem overwhelming, but you should be able to quickly hone in on these tasks after 2-3 weeks:

  • Identify the dozen or so best keywords or phrases to monitor related to your marketing and communications objectives
  • Summarize where conversations are occurring and the main topics that are resonating within targeted communities related to your marketing objectives
  • Develop a list of 15-20 thought leaders discussing key issues/topics related to your marketing or communications objectives

6. The Art of Responding

What if no one is talking about your organization? That means it is time to start engaging. Once you have a policy around who will respond, you will get down to commenting and engaging in conversation. Here are some tips.

The Five Stages of Listening from Dave Fleet
The Art of Commenting by Beth Kanter
How to Comment like a Queen by Vicky Davis
How To Handle Negative Comments on Your Blog by Jason Alba
How to Handle Negative Word of Mouth by Andy Sernowitz

7. Actionable Listening Reporting, Pattern Analysis and Seeing Trends Over Time

external image 4644675405_d8ee9258c4.jpg

listening report template.pdf - Use this listening report template to help you analyze, synthesize, and apply what you hear.

You'll want to be look for patterns and trends. This requires stepping back. Your tools are social bookmarking and the excel spreadsheet.

Using Delicious to Bookmark mentions

WeAreMedia Tool Box: Social Bookmarking
Using Numbers To Harvest Insights by Beth Kanter
Visualizing Data to Trigger Insights by Beth Kanter
Share of Voice Report

With your system in place, you're may be ready for professional listening tools.