Last week, after we looked at the tools for online listening, I promised I would follow it up with tools to use in assessing the conversation.

Promise kept!

At the time, we discussed the five steps in social media we always recommend to new clients who are just beginning to branch out online, including listen, assess, engage, measure, and refine/improve.

We’re at the assess phase now, which means we need to look at where our customers and prospects are already participating online.

Remember, this not the Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will not come.

You need to figure out where your audience is participating in order to determine where you’re going to spend your time.

There are four tools you can use to begin to understand your audience’s online preferences. Some are free and some are paid. We’ll explore both.

  1. Fliptop. Fliptop is a tool that will let you upload email contacts from your computer, an email marketing platform, social media, or Salesforce. It will give you 100 free social profiles; anything beyond that is a paid option. It’s an easy way to test the software to see if it’s something you’d like to consider paying for and using. It returns demographics, title, company, all of the social platforms the person uses, and their Klout score.
  2. Qwerly. Qwerly is a little more sophisticated and should be used by someone who understands APIs and how to insert a key into your Web properties. This is a paid tool that takes the person’s name and location, and returns their bio, social networking profiles, usernames, and influence score (such as Klout).
  3. Gist. Gist is a tool you insert into your email server (such as Outlook or Gmail). Every time you email someone, it returns information such as their most recent blog post, what they’re reading, their shared photos, and their social networks
  4. Xobni. Xobni is the Batman of email. When installed in your email server, it returns so much information it’s almost scary. It gives you the social platforms, just like the other tools, but it also shows you which attachments you’ve exchanged with that person, what time they’re typically on email and responding, how many emails they’ve sent you or haven’t responded to, and more.The only thing we don’t like about Xobni is it takes up a lot of memory — and in Outlook it tends to crash frequently. But their customer service is excellent so, if you decide to use it and have problems, they’re readily available to help, even after hours and on weekends.

The difference between Fliptop and Qwerly vs. Gist and Xobni is the first two give you a snapshot of the people in your customer relationship management database, and the latter two give you access to the people you are emailing at that moment in time.

Both groups are useful in assessing where your audience participates online.

Once you have a good snapshot using one of the first two tools, you can begin to build your community where the majority of your customers and prospects are already participating.

Then you can use Gist or Xobni to enhance your community building as you proceed, which I’ll discuss in more detail next week when we talk about engaging the customers and prospects you find online.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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