Five Free Tools for Social Media Listening (And How to Start Responding)

Listening is the first step in social media. You have to listen to what others are saying about you before you jump into the fire. Listening will tell you what people are saying, and where they are saying it, so you know where to get started.

Many of these tools are Twitter-focused, because Twitter is the easiest place to get started in listening.

Here are 5 (FREE!) tools I recommend to get started.

Google Alerts (

At the bare minimum, you should use Google Alerts for your organization’s name, acronym, prominent staff names like your CEO, and large campaigns you’re working on. Depending on the number of mentions you get, you’ll probably want to set the alerts to come to your inbox as they happen, so you know quickly what’s being said and can determine a response, if needed.

Tweetdeck (

Tweetdeck is great because it runs in the background and gives you desktop alerts for mentions, similar to Microsoft Outlook when you get a new email. You can customize the different columns and have an array of search terms for people talking about you on Twitter. For example, mine has the following columns: @ replies of my personal twitter account, @ replies of my organizational account, mentions of “humane society”, mentions of “hsus”, and direct messages. When you’re ready to get REAL serious, ask your IT department for a second monitor that you can put just Tweetdeck on. (See photo, below.)

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