The 9th Discipline of Social Media: Listening. Building Your Social Media Dashboard

[UPDATE IN PROGRESS: since Google killed iGoogle and Facebook killed Friendfeed’s Twitter integration, I’m trying out a few new dashlike apps. Let me know if you have any favorites I should consider. I’m trying and Netvibes. I’ll be back to soon with the update. 7-22-13]

Another massive challenge in working social media is how to setup your listening dashboard. Most of us can’t afford Radian6 (the grandaddy of social monitoring dashboards) so we have to make due with other tools. Here are a couple of my favorite listening dashboards using Free tools.


the 9th discipline of social media

You’ll notice tabs on the left side, which provide new pages of readers and widgets on my different topics. And then everything else is a widget. If you have a GMail account you’ve got iGoogle, you just need to set it up. My iGoogle page is my starting point and rally point during the day. I load this page over and over. I have used a widget to feed my G-Mail into the center of the page so I can kill both email and news/updates on one page. The widgets for iGoogle are limitless. And you can create a widget from any RSS feed.

TIP: Another great feature of iGoogle, is you can send an entire page of widgets (a complete listening page) to another Google user or a team of colleagues.


grouping feeds and other news sources using Friendfeed

Friendfeed has an amazing aggregation tool known as Groups. Above you can see a healthcare feed that I have created by subscribing my Healthcare-Firehose to a number of healthcare news sources. Then you can feed this entire RSS stream back into iGoogle as a widget. If I’m ever at a loss for an idea about healthcare, I check this widget.

(Note: If you are interested in healthcare, here is the link to the Healthcare Firehose.)

Here’s what the Friendfeed sources page looks like. This is where you add new streams of news from almost any kind of source.

listening to multiple sources with Friendfeed

TIP: You can use to search Twitter for various topics or hashtags. Then you can create an RSS feed of that search that will bring you new search information on a regular basis.


As the defacto Twitter management tool (since Twitter bought them) Tweetdeck uses columns to filter your incoming tweetstream into manageable chunks.

Using Tweetdeck columns as listening filters

I use a priority focus from left to right using Tweetdeck’s columns. Left is CLOSE those people and tweets I never want to miss. Next is Social Media Pros, a bit wider group of people writing about and working in social media. Then my own personal search, so I don’t miss any mentions. And then comes All Friends, which is my column of all the people I follow. Further to the right I have very targeted columns based on client work or specific interests of the moment. (Note: Tweetdeck can stream your columns so they update as people post, but I find the urgency of the moving tweets more than I can stand. I check Twitter with Tweetdeck, and I update the columns manually, when I am done reading the previous posts.)

WordPress Hybrid Listening Blog

Then you can build a larger listening system using WordPress. For this example I was doing an social media listening program for a leading Cloud Services vendor. I built this site using several Friendfeed groups and feeds, as well as creating some original “cloud” content.


A hybrid listening system using WordPress

Whatever you use, it is critical to develop a process for filtering through all of the possible news about your topic of interest. By submerging yourself in the datastream (sometimes called the firehose, since the stream is huge and never ceasing) you will learn and become more knowledgable about your topic.

And that’s really the key to social media: listening, learning, and responding with ever-more educated responses.


The Disciplines of Social Media:

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