Tracking the Needs

by Ruud Hein October 31st, 2008 

To identify needs our potential and existing customers have we have to hear and listen to what people are saying:

  • about our brand
  • about our product(s)
  • about our space, our industry
  • about the problem(s) we solve

Tracking Tools

Tracking the world-wide, ongoing conversations for specific topics has become easier than ever before.

For example, here were tracking (live!) conversations on Twitter regarding "Google" (stay tuned a couple of seconds to see new "tweets" stream in live):

How much you track is up to you. Remember, you don't have to respond to every need all the time.

Here are some tracking tools:


  • Monitter: live updating feeds of up to 3 topics
  • TweetBeep: Twitter alerts by email
  • Twitter Search: use as-is or add the resulting feed to your feedreader
  • Twittermeter: graph frequency of a topic
  • Twitscoop: search, word cloud, trending, graph
  • TweetDeck: a Twitter client which lets you track topic-specific searches/conversations (Personal note: highly recommended)


What To Track

Start at the top, close to your product, your service. If your into "backup", look for that: backup. If it's "flowers", go with flowers.

Sit back and watch. Don't engage yet; don't respond or create content based on what you see. Instead, get well acquainted with what's being talked about. Soon, patterns emerge. Some things are often asked, some things are often recommended or suggested. Some problems seem rare.

Now that you know what people are talking about directly related to your space, branch out. Do it both in your direction and in the direction the observed conversations lead you.

To filter your own direction, mind map or brainstorm your topic; free associate. Feed some of these topics in your tracking tools and see what comes back.

social media control room

Adjust The Volume

It's a good idea at this point to balance the volume. Some searches will generate tons of results in one tool, less in the other. But it's not just about volume: it's about noise vs. signal. So where does this search produce the most value?

Be aware that we're adjusting volume: you're not muting it. Although onslaught of items might seem overwhelming, remember that this is a stream: you can jump in and out at any moment. Apart from your own curiosity there's no need to scroll back in order to catch up with every single item.

Get familiar with the tools mentioned. Could you maybe even use them to learn more about these tools? About this topic?


Image courtesy of loudestnoise

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

You May Also Like

12 Responses to “Tracking the Needs”

  1. Great tools here, I've used and love most of them. Pulse is key to understanding and affecting the conversation in social media :-)

  2. Michael D says:

    I love that you can track with such specificity. I'm finding tracking terms like "flowers" also helps in understanding what people are conversing on now, which gives insights into what to include in posts on the topic. Nice that you put all these resources into one list.

  3. Frankly, I am completely lost, but I shall let that pass. Shall wait for less techno stuff!

  4. Utah SEO says:

    As tracking becomes more and more important this is a good list of tools to help.

    Twitter is a goldmine of tracking info and research data.

  5. Judit says:

    Great tools indeed. I do not twitter but i found Google alerts very useful. It is crucial thing to follow topics that you are interested in, but not to loose time for getting and searching them.

  6. Hery says: – games — thanks

  7. Metaspring says:

    Like Judith here, I find Google alerts to be invaluable to me! For those topics that I want to be constantly updated on I set an 'As it happens' Alert, for the less important ones I set a once a day /week kind of alert.

  8. […] time and energy we use to find and track online company mentions and the needs/questions as expressed by our users or potential clients is time we invest in finding […]

  9. Hi Ruud
    I just found your blog through Jack Humphrey of the Friday Traffic Report.
    Looks to me like some awsome information and tools you have going on in your post.

    This will all take some time to digest,
    so I subscribed, so I wont lose it, and all the great stuff to add to my information overload.

    Gary McElwain

  10. Tracking the needs surrounding your niche is an important factor in running a business, especially when consumer's needs evolve quickly in today's world.
    Rif Chia

  11. […] the social media tracking tools we discussed you've tracked down a conversation which is relevant to your industry, company, […]

  12. Google alerts is a good platform to track your niche. Especially when used along with an ORM campaign.
    Anna Nguyen