Measure Twice, Speak Once

In my most recent posts, I’ve been discussing the best ways to develop an effective, sticky message.  However, in doing so I left out the most important part of crafting a compelling message: listening.  Before we worry about creating a message that is relevant and motivating, we have to find out what is relevant and motivating to our consumers.  Although traditional forms of market research, including focus groups, surveys and consumer observations, can be enlightening, I am a strong believer that unsolicited opinions are the most truthful.

Luckily, the internet not only provides accessible ways to reach consumers, it also provides accessible tools for eavesdropping on their true feelings about brands, companies and product categories.  I most recently found an excellent aggregation of some of these tools on Social Media Today.  Make sure to take a look at some of the highlights before you start developing your next campaign strategy.

Google Tools

Google Alerts
Any company using social media should be utilizing this tool to track consumer opinions, news mentions and competitive activity.  Choose a set of keywords and receive emailed updates of keyword mentions.  The more you listen to real consumer reviews and discussions, the better equipped you are to translate insights into effective messages.

Google Trends
Consumers may not be listening to your messages simply because they aren’t finding them.  Google Trends follows the trends and provides insights into broad search patterns – letting you develop relevant messages and tag them with appropriate keywords.

Google Blog Search
Blogs have now become a go-to resource for trend watchers and trend adopters alike.  Bloggers have become consumer influencers that can make or break a brand – and in the process have added a new dimension to product releases, branded events and public relations.  This tool will help you keep up with the top blog posts across the web, as well as ones that are relevant to your specific industry and competitive landscape.


Consumers have always placed more validity in peer recommendations than advertising; social media has widened the gap by magnifying what any one consumers social circle is doing, buying or talking about.  Tweetgrid allows you to do a real-time search for up to nine topics – including events, conversations, hashtags, phrases, people and groups.

Keep tabs on what is most important to your target audience, and watch how they share their experiences with others.  Once you know how your audience operates within their social circles, you can determine how to generate the most reach for your message.

For every product category, there are key influencers who move popular opinion. This tool filters content in real-time based on your interests. It will help you find the most active influencers within any one topic, allowing you to gauge what types of appeals are working.

Once you disseminate a message, it is critical to know how consumers are responding.  Twilert works much like Google Alert, allowing you to set up keyword alerts for your brand, competitors and your general product category.

Multi-Network Tools

Social Mention
Social Mention is a key monitoring tool if you’re engaging consumers across multiple networks.  It consolidates updates from news sites, blogs and social networks.  Go beyond tracking brand and competitive mentions to track responses to your marketing and advertising campaigns, link sharing and forum discussions.

The most passionate consumers love sharing their experiences with friends, families and sometimes complete strangers online.  Monitor niche communities, message boards and discussion threads to find out what features of products consumers get excited about.

Although this is a shallow picture of the tracking and analytical tools available, it provides a foundation for monitoring conversations online.  Effective messages tap into human truths – the kind that can only come from listening intently to consumers true feelings.

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