Listen First, Then Engage! Monitoring and Engagement Tools.

Here is the question we are going to answer: How can I use social media to listen and make a connection?

Josh ChilesJosh Chiles, President, Engaged Social Media Firm — In my last post I gave you a little homework, did you answer the two questions? Great, now that you’re ready to start using social media. Let’s start by listening.

When a customer first walks into your dealership, you ask questions to learn all you can about your customer, so you can make a connection and build a friendship. This connection is your first step to selling your customer the boat of their dreams and the friendship you build is why they come back to you when the "two-foot-itis" sets in. Using social media, you follow the same process. So, here is the question we are going to answer: How can I use social media to listen and make a connection?

Here are three tools to listen for conversations about your company.

Social Mention - (http://ww.socialmention.com) Social Mention is a free real-time social media search and analysis tool. They track what people are saying across the Web's social media landscape. You set up alerts for keywords like your company name, brand, marketing campaign, news story or even a competitor and receive a free daily e-mail of all the results. The e-mail will include headlines and links to your keyword(s).

Google Alerts - (http://www.google.com/alerts ) If you already use Google for business then you're one step closer to setting up a Google Alert. Google Alerts allow you to monitor any keyword or topic and receive real-time e-mail alerts when your keyword or topic shows up in Google search for free. When setting up a Google Alert, make sure to choose "as-it-happens" to receive real-time alerts.

BlogPulse - (http://www.blogpulse.com) Blogs are written every day about every topic imaginable. A magazine or even your customers may be blogging about your company right now. BlogPulse allows you to search (for free) the thousands of blogs on the Web by keyword (like your company name) or even find blogs that link to your URL (your website).

Here are two dashboards you can use to monitor and engage.

Hootsuite - (http://hootsuite.com ) Hootsuite allows you to monitor keyword searches on Twitter and monitor and post content to your Facebook page, Twitter account, Foursquare location or LinkedIn profile. You can schedule updates to your social network, which is great for spreading out your content and making social media more manageable. Also, when you post a link either to your website or a news story from the brand you're selling, you can track how many clicks that link receives.

Seesmic - (http://seesmic.com) Seesmic offers you everything you need to manage your brand online. Monitor and post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare. If you have an iPhone, Android, Blackberry or Windows Phone 7, you can use Seesmic on the go.

Don't forget to use the basic search in Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to find conversations. Now that you have a few tools to listen to the social Web, go ahead and search for your dealership, your brand, or your competitor. You may be surprised.

Keep you eye's out for my next blog post on "Check-ins and Boat Shows" or if you would like tips now, e-mail me at josh@startengaging.com

Stay Social ~ Josh