2 Tips for “Listening” Online as a Small Business

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Having taught several Social Media Boot Camps over the years, the first question I would get from my workshop participants – followed by a firm statement – about utilizing social media was:

How much time does it take to use social media?

I don’t have any more time in my day for this new media stuff!

As a small business owner or manager, you MUST be engaging with your customers online. If you care about growing your business, and differentiating yourself from your competitors, then you’d better make time for social media. It’s where your customers are, and they expect you to interact with them.

I realize it can seem overwhelming – and it can be – if you don’t have a strategy for engaging with your consumers online. Below are 2 tips for listening online as a small business. Both tools allow you to identify keywords you’d like to monitor online, and receive an email when that keyword, or set of keywords, are used. This allows you to monitor, respond, and show your consumers you care about what they have to say:

#1: Set up Google Alerts: This is very easy and can be done in a under a minute. Examples of keywords you should set-up alerts for include: your company name, your competitors, your name, and industry keywords. When those keywords are used on the Internt, you’ll receive an email alerting you, and you can chose to engage or not to engage.

In the example to the left, I’ve chosen to set-up an alert for the word “startup” – this way, I can track the use of this word online. If you want to track something like “business plan” you must use the quotations around the word or you’ll receive alerts for every time the word “business” or “plan” is used. You can chose to have the alerts sent to your email or to an RSS feed if you use one.

#2: Set up Twitter Alerts: It seems every day there’s a new tool for “listening” on Twitter, but the easiest one I’ve found is using Twilert. Again – these can be set up in under a minute. You can track keywords, Twitter accounts (by using the @ followed by the account name), or hashtags (by using the # followed by the term).

The example to the left shows that I’m tracking the hashtag #LivePlanBoost because we’re using this hashtag to track our LivePlan $10,000 Boost business plan competition.

Happy listening…

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Caroline Cummings
Caroline Cummings
An entrepreneur. A disruptor. An advocate. Caroline has been the CEO and co-founder of two tech startups—one failed and one she sold. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs realize their full potential and learn how to step outside of their comfort zones to catalyze their growth. Caroline is currently executive director of Oregon RAIN. She provides strategic leadership for the organization’s personnel, development, stakeholder relations, and community partnerships. In her dual role as the venture catalyst manager, Cummings oversees the execution of RAIN’s Rural Venture Catalyst programs. She provides outreach and support to small and rural communities; she coaches and mentors regional entrepreneurs, builds strategic local partnerships, and leads educational workshops.
Posted in Business Plan Writing

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