Online Listener Basics: 10 Tools to Help You "Hear" Online

Not an Online Listener ToolAre you good online listener? As an online listener, you value knowing the needs of your audience and will strain your digital ears to find them. You embrace strategy, perhaps a process or two and an array of online listening tools to truly hear your niche. Just what kind of tools, you say? Today Big Picture Web has assembled a list of 10 online listening tools to help the noble online listener.

What Makes a Good Online Listener?

What makes a good online listener? I've been thinking about that question a lot lately. It first came up after reading a pair of blog posts from Tim Bursch, a fellow blogger here in the Twin Cities. Tim pointed out the importance of listening/hearing online and then asked his community what online listening tools they used to hear in social media

A few weeks later, I saw Brian Solis imply that the moment people stop listening to you is when you stop adding value in this interview.

And most recently, I read SEO expert and founder Ann Smarty's post about some of her favorite tools for collecting feedback from her "silent" blog followers.

Ok. Listening is important. We get it. So let's take a look at some tools already to make us better online listeners.

10 Tools for Online Listeners

  1. - Use Twitter to listen by using the power of search. Feeling confident? Master these 10 advanced Twitter search tips. Feeling dangerous? Master the Twitter listening station.
  2. 4Q - Put a simple survey on your blog/website to see why people visited you, whether they accomplished their objective and how satisfied they were with their visit. People will tell you amazing things when it's anonymous.4Q Online Listening Tool(4Q's Task Completion Trending for Big Picture Web. Yay!)
  3. BetterMe - Speaking of anonymity, BetterMe is an excellent way to receive feedback anonymously. Visitors can click on a simple image link on your site and leave their thoughts. These can be very helpful indeed. You can use BetterMe to send a thank-you to your feedback providers without revealing their identity, which is a neat feature to close the loop.
  4. Blog Comments - Visitors who leave comments on your blog are some of the best friends you can have. Respond to them and acknowledge their contribution. Mitch Joel recently started responding within his comments a lot more because he sees value in it. Avinash Kaushik receives dozens of comments, yet replies to everyone within his blog's comments and via email. I'm pretty sure Avinash has done the analysis necessary to prove that these are his BFFs. And he treats his commenting visitors as such. (Side note: As a Squarespace developer, I'm so happy their new iPhone app allows for easy comment moderation.)
  5. Get Satisfaction Online Listener Community(Click on the "Feedback" tab on the right to see this form.)Get Satisfaction - Another wonderful web tool for gathering feedback, Get Satisfaction is a full-on customer service add-on for your website. See that "Feedback" tab on the right side of this blog? Click it. Fill something out. Then start thinking about how you could use Get Satisfaction on your own blog or website.
  6. Google Analytics - You don't need to be a Web Analyst to use a web analytics platform. You don't even have to work in online marketing. Google Analytics (or what-have-you) is for everyone attached to the business. So accept it already and dip your toes in the water. Try Arik Hanson's Google Analytics blogger basics post for starters. Then go to the Analysis Ninja for a thorough education.
  7. Clicky Web Analytics - These guys just plain don't get enough credit. Clicky is a super-affordable paid web analytics platform with some really great features Google Analytics just doesn't offer. Their real-time monitoring "Spy" feature is incredible for watching visitors' activity on your site as it happens. Watching content go viral with Clicky is better than seeing a double rainbow.Clicky's online listening feature, Spy(A portion of Clicky's Spy interface.)
  8. Quantcast - Quantcast is an online media tool that allows you to learn more about your audience and show key aggregate website stats to your potential advertisers. Finding out the basic demographics of my visitors was an amazing piece of information. Incidentally, Big Picture Web would like to take this opportunity to say hello to our educated, affluent Asian visitors. Welcome!Quantcast demographics for Big Picture Web(Aggregate basic demographics for Big Picture Web visitors.)
  9. Google Insights - Find out where the conversations are headed by using Google Insights. Use keyword popularity trends to understand what the next big topic is going to be. Proactive online listeners can often create content that supports a topic from multiple angles just as it becomes really popular by paying attention to rising and breakout terms.
  10. iGoogle - One of the best ways to listen online is to read what others are saying. I use iGoogle to keep track of all the blogs I follow. Each week I try to cover as much as I can on what's happening in the areas of Internet marketing, SEO and web analytics. I also like to interact with Twin Cities bloggers to keep up on important regional ideas, news and opportunities. You can use these links to seed your iGoogle page if you're not sure what to read.

What Tools Do You Use?

So, back to the original question... Are you a good online listener? What success have you had with the tools above? Is there an online listening tool that you've used that's not listed here? Leave a comment below to share your experience with the Big Picture Web community. 

You can be sure I'll be listening.