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 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)
WEB / BLOGS
- Google Alerts: news, blogs, web, video, groups (includes parts of Usenet)
- Yahoo Alerts: news, web, blogs
- Newsgator Smart Feeds: feeds of web sites and blogs
- Boardtracker: search across forums.
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.
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