This post is part of The Executive Series which is written by Jonas Klit Nielsen, CEO and Founder of Mindjumpers. The posts are based on his daily work with passionate people responsible in the area of social business, executives from large international companies and thought leaders in the social business space.


Listen to the right conversation, gather data, analyze the data and get insights of high value for your company.

Last week, I wrote a about the importance of data. This week, I will go a bit deeper into one of the first steps to generate the knowledge that can get you a buy in from the c-level for your social media efforts: Listening.

A lot of people have been stating the importance of listening to conversations in social media. Often you see the statement ‘listen and engage’ or ‘listen to what people are saying about you on social media’. This post is not solely about any of the above.

Listening for me is not the same as monitoring. Monitoring is the second step after you have done your listening. Is it interesting what people say about you? Perhaps, but I will argue that there are so much more interesting conversations to be listening to than ‘all’ the people talking about you. Listening is finding those conversations and analyzing them. Break them down to valuable insights that you can hand over to other business units in your organization – from communication to product development.

It will take a bit of work to do this right. The following are the steps, we follow at Mindjumpers when we help companies start listening to conversations.

Conversational words

First, generate a long list of possible words that could be interesting to listen in on. That can be anything from your company or brand name, competitor names, words connected to your product or industry, or words connected to some important stakeholders or to important objectives. The list can be long.

You always tend to use industry words. The difficult task is to figure out what words people might use instead of the industry words.

Scorecard – the first filter

You can probably come up with more than a 100-200 words, which may be too much to start with. The first filtering of the words would be to create a scorecard for the words. You can score them yourself, but the best result will come if you can involve other relevant stakeholders as for instance your target group or KOL’s. One score should be ‘how valuable is this for our company 1-10’ the rest should be divided on target group input. Let them to rate how important the words are to them. The scorecard will give you a prioritized list of conversational words.

Listening tool

There are probably over 100 different listening tools out there from Radian 6 to the free tools. I recommend that you do a small due diligence process of tools that can fit your needs.  For some clients we have put a set of free tools together (less out of pocket – more internal resources) and for some we recommended to get a tool like Radian 6, Whitevector, Meltwater Buzz etc.

Start listening

Start collecting the conversational data from your top prioritized conversational words and process the data, tweak the queries, exclude irrelevant results and keep a score of the relevance of the individual words. This is also your second filter of the words (if very little interesting information, downgrade the importance of the specific word). Be open to start following a new path. The relevant conversations might be using words you had not thought of to begin with, but with this process you will get near enough to identify the conversations.

Store and analyse

As you find relevant conversations, make sure to store and analyze the data. It can again be done in simple ways such as screen-shooting the conversations, saving links etc. to creating a web grab function that can get pointed to information you would like to grab and store it in a database.

Break the data down to relevant insights – it might be brand related, product related, related for your companies’ CSR strategy or for your customer service team. Present the insights to the relevant business units.

The next steps will be to start continuously monitoring and measuring on these conversational words, the conversations or specific relevant influencers that have been identified.

The next step for the business units receiving the insight should be to start taking action, which could be anything thing from engaging in a conversation or creating improvement to a product – indicated by the people that would by it.

In a later post I will share our framework on the subject of listening, but we are still tweaking on it from all the learning’s we get through our work with some of our clients.