What do you want to talk about? Consider what you talk about at work, at home, and with clients, and make a list of topics and keywords that are at the core of your day-to-day conversations. Include the keywords you use to talk about your business on your website as well as a few of your hobbies. Make another list of business contacts or people you’d like to have time to talk to.

Now start searching. You’re going to want to identify where people are talking about the topics you are interested in, what types of networks they are using and where the biggest concentration of interest is. You can do this with traditional search engines, but you’re likely to have to wade through a lot of static content to find conversations. There are search tools just for social media mentions. Some are free or low cost and others range from $100 to $1,000 a month

Social Mention is a good place to start. It uses Yahoo’s BOSS platform to search a variety of social media platforms, from blogs and micro-blogs to forums, bookmarking sites audio and videos. In real time. Start with a “vanity search” searching on your own name. You might learn there are conversations going on about you that you didn’t know about.

Social Mention scores results by “sentiment”. They are running algorithms that detect the phrasing and use of particular words that tip the engine off to a positive or negative vibe to the discussion. Search your keywords and start making more lists. Some people find it useful to create a bookmark list of all the sites they find so they can quickly go back to them later.

This basic searching may be enough for you to see what networks would be interesting to join. If there are conversations going on in forums or blogs you can get in on the conversation right away and add your own thoughts to the mix. It’s still a good idea to dig a little deeper to get the big picture from several different listening tools; it’s up to you to decide which fits your needs best.

Leave a Reply