You can choose to be part of the online conversation and contribute to steering it.  Or, you can let conversation go on without you, letting others control what is said about your business brand.  Learn what social listening tools can help you achieve small business online marketing success.

Small business + social listening = online marketing success!

Keri Jaehnig of Idea Girl Media defines the importance of social listening.

image credit: practicalowl | flickr

So you start your business, you get a website, and sign up for Facebook and maybe one or two other social networks.  Your online marketing plans are set, right?  No!  One thing you forgot is social listening tools…

There are now many options – Both free and paid.

This is meant as a social listening tools review. Those that will benefit the most are just beginning to calculate winning customers online by connecting the puzzle pieces of their:

  • Website
  • Social Networking
  • SEO efforts.

Outlined are mainly social listening tools free for you.  🙂

The Importance Of Social Listening

Social media has changed the business landscape.  People are talking every day about the business brands they discover and experience.  The language is both positive and negative.

As a small business owner, you can choose to be part of the online conversation and contribute to steering it.  Or, you can let the conversation go on without you, and let others control what is said about your business brand, your professional niche, and your industry.

If you want to succeed with online marketing, you are going to need to know where your target market hangs out online — But more: what they like to talk about when they are there.

In short: You must be aware of online conversation and what is trending online, or your competition will win.

Where should you listen?

  • The global Internet
  • The social space
  • Your small business niche
  • Your location

Lets take a tour – A social listening tools comparison.  A big to small, top-down approach…

Listening To The Global Internet

Keri Jaehnig of Idea Girl Media suggests as one of the social listening tools for small business online marketing success

image via

Another way to look at it this is getting a general picture of what is happening on the web as a whole.  News headlines, popular topics in entertainment — In other words, what interests the world.

The world is a big space, so you want to find ways to “grab news” in a way that brings you hot topics that would interest your target market.  Suggested social listening tools:

  • Google Alerts – Tracking preferred topics you customize; Via email or RSS.
  • – Categorized feeds getting you the news you care about.
  • – What the world is talking about in list form; Generated by people.

Note that updates every second and can be very customized.  They guide you through how to use their platform with a short video.  On, you can create your own lists and subscribe to others.  It could be used as a collaborative tool for special interest groups.

As the computer is only as good as the programmer, the same is true for curating news. Begin with key words, edit and adjust, and continue to re-adjust over time.

Listening To The Social Space

The “social space” refers to anything influenced by social media.  So, social networks, social listening tools, social media news, blogs, social startups and betas, etc.  Any portal for online communication.

As small business owners with a goal of online marketing success, your goal is to understand online conversation and the way it evolves.  Suggested social listening tools:

  • Social Mention – Real-time search of most social networks, “Google Alert” style.
  • Twitter Lists – Arranged by user, key words, or hashtags.

(video guide to using Twitter Lists with views on Hootsuite)

The above is a short list of social media listening tools, if you will.

There are many out there.  The options immediately above give you a place to start, see what you like, and at some point in the future graduate up to more advanced or paying programs if you wish.

Listening To Your Niche

Consider this like viewing the Internet and the social space relative to you in your profession, and observing the conversation about your industry, your competition, and your business brand.

Suggested social listening tools:

  • Facebook Interests Lists – Friends, Pages, News Sources; Create or subscribe (as of 2017, Interest lists were discontinued, unless you kept the links to your created lists – Then you can still access).
  • Twitter Lists – By competitor IDs, hashtags (can be public or private).
  • Google Alerts – By industry, competitors, and location.
  • LinkedIn Publishing – Topics professional circles are talking about.

Here, you will find that these tools will also let you listen to conversations on a greater scale – The social space and Internet.

Listening To Your Location

The tools listed above will also allow you to listen to online conversation in your geographic area.  Simply plug in local or regional location information to drill down and listen to nearby trends.

Social listening tools for Facebook usually include other networks or additional bells and whistles.  To really listen to your specific audience, regularly examine and interpret insights on your Facebook Page.  This gives you feedback related to your location, and more specifically engagement of your fans, themselves.

Not usually considered in the list of social listening tools:

Location based marketing!  A small business can create a profile page as part of an online marketing strategy.  It includes:

  • A map.
  • Photos of your business.
  • Descriptions of products & services.
  • Analytics for you to use in running your business.

There is also a social component that is very mobile friendly.

Foursquare is not usually on the list of social listening tools as explained by Keri Jaehnig at Idea Girl Media

@sugardaddys on Foursquare

Foursquare allows people to converse with each other, but also lets patrons leave tips (feedback) for their friends.  Paying attention to your local channel here could really pay off.  Many business brands have not yet hopped on this social network and really put it to work!  #gettherefirst

Social Listening Tools For Small Business Online Marketing Success

You now have several social listening tools options to explore in developing a social listening strategy.  There is no one correct answer, as every business is different.

The key is creating accurate alerts feeds and knowing where your target market hangs out online so you can consistently evolve your strategies based on the feedback you get from listening.

Remember: You must be aware of online conversation and what is trending online, or your competition will win.

Now Listening To You

Are there social listening tools not on this list that should be?

How are you using the social listening tools above that might differ from the techniques noted?

Please let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments box below!  🙂