Social listening to your customers…when they don’t say your name

Social listening – for the past 10 years, since the founding of companies like Radian6 and ScoutLabs, it’s mostly meant “listening for the use of my brand’s name on social media so I can do damage control.”

There’s so, so much more than that. I’d like to write a book about how much more there is that that, but for now I’ll leave you with two thoughts:

* If your “social listening” only listens for your brand name, then it isn’t really social and it isn’t really listening.

* If you have customers, and you believe customer experience is important, then you should use social listening to see what your customers’ concerns, work, and day to day lives are like.

I’ve got some great systems for listening beyond brand name – to topical leaders talking about things other than…me. But now I’m building systems to listen to customers and it’s really exciting. It’s exciting to read about and listen to the work that is being done by the fascinating customers my employer works with! It’s fun – and it’s going to enable me to support those customers much, much better.

Tracking Startup Incubators: Three Helpful Resources

A few weeks ago ReadWriteWeb’s Audrey Watters wrote up a report ranking the top 15 startup incubators and accelerators in the US. I asked the virtual assistant program FancyHands to build me a Twitter list of all those top organizations and an OPML file of their blog feeds. I was just sharing those with my friends over at the very cool mobile app shop Night and Day Studios and thought, heck – I should post them here too.

I’m pretty excited about these. If you’re a startup, an investor, and incubator person or a tech journalist – I think these will help you peek inside and track what some of the very top organizations serving tech startups are doing each day.

So here’s the Twitter List: Top Tech Incubators.

Click Follow This List on that page and then you can either visit it on your list of Lists you’re following or you could use it to populate a column in Tweetdeck or Seesmic if this is super important to you.

If you’re the feed readin’ type (and you know I am!) then here’s an OPML file you can download locally, then subscribe to in any feed reader: StartupIncubators.OPML

That’s uploaded to Google Docs, let me know if you have any problems with it. Once you download it, you can upload it into an RSS reader. For example, in Google Reader the Manage Subscriptions link in the bottom left column will show you an Import/Export link.

And regular readers here will know that when I see a list – I think Custom Search Engine! Want to know what kinds of work any of these incubators has done regarding a given topic? Just search inside their web site archives using this handy dandy machine: Top Tech Incubators CSE.

I’d recommend including the command -“hacker news” if you don’t want the results to be flooded with news stories from YCombinator’s wonderful site Hacker News.


Let me know if there are any issues with these, I hope you find them useful.

Here’s where credit is due for the rankings, according to Frank Gruber of TechCocktail:

As a part of his field work for the Kauffman Fellows Program (not to be confused with Kauffman Foundation), Aziz Gilani from DFJ Mercury, working in partnership with Tech Cocktail and the Kellogg School of Management, set out to determine the best startup accelerator programs in America and rank them. Assisting in the evaluation effort were Professor Yael Hochberg and MBA Candidate Kelly Quann from Northwestern University. Together there were numerous interviews with VC’s, Angels, and program graduates performed and then the data was aggregated. This is the first high-level published report of the findings – Aziz Gilani will be sharing a more detailed look at the findings in July, so stay tuned.

One-Click Blog Community Intelligence Button

I frequently discover new blogs and I want to learn more about them. One of my favorite ways to do that is to see which posts a blog’s own readers have been most interested in. The wonderful service PostRank will check out any blog’s feed and score the posts in it based on number of comments, shares on Twitter, in-bound links from other blogs, etc. and then let you view just the most popular posts from it.

That’s cool but I’ve had enough copying and pasting and typing in So I made this bookmarklet: PostRank It

(To tell the truth, the one I made was a step less simple, then I found this page that an even better version.)

Click and drag it up to your browser’s toolbar. Then visit a blog. Then click the magic button. Check it out and click on the drop-down button that says “All Posts” and pick something different. Yay! Then come back and tell me how much you love it. Clearly I’m not the first person to think of this – but I’m not going to let that stop me from making a small post about it.

Please Post Your Bloglines Memories Here

November 1st was shut-down day for former market leading RSS reader Bloglines. Parent company, which squandered this beautiful tool for syndicated content so cruelly, announced this weekend that it is extending the shut-down date for another two weeks, so people can learn how to click the Export OPML button in Bloglines and the Import OPML button in Google Reader.

I thought I’d share my story and thoughts about Bloglines here. If you’d like to do the same, I may make the most interesting ones into a post at ReadWriteWeb.

It’s tragic, really. RSS is a beautiful thing. It’s BEAUTIFUL! Bloglines was the way that millions of people first learned about RSS. They grabbed an URL, or clicked a subscribe link, and all of a sudden updates from their favorite sources were brought magically into one central place to scroll through. No remembering to check on pages that hadn’t been updated, no taking forever to navigate around the web – just subscribe and read a personalized river of news!

Today I read RSS through at least 7 different interfaces (I lose track sometimes) but for whatever tragic reason, only so many people have stuck with reading feeds. That’s not my problem, except I’d like to see a thriving feed ecosystem support new types of innovation. And I think it’s a big loss for the human experience: to subscribe to a long tail of personalized, self and niche published content, easily as can be, that’s an experience I believe everyone ought to be able to have in their lives.

I can’t remember the first time I used Bloglines. I remember the first time I used MyYahoo to read feeds, though. I was at my work study job at the Government Documents desk of the U of O Knight Library, and I heard a rumor somewhere online about this thing called RSS. I set up a MyYahoo page and felt almost overwhelmed with excitement thinking about all the possibilities. The ability to publish and subscribe to syndicated web content is all about potential. You pick a good source, and there’s more coming your way from it in the future.

After just a couple days I think, I looked around and tried out Newsgator Online (now dead as well). Then NetNewsWire on the desktop (still alive) and today I use a wide variety of services to get my news and do my job. I used Bloglines, and taught other people how to use Bloglines, intermittently. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was the favorite of more people than anything else – until Google Reader came along.

Google Reader is ok. It’s not that great. The fact that the only RSS reader in the world that many people know about anymore doesn’t let you subscribe to RSS feeds that are password protected, and no one much cares about that, is a sign that RSS never got the love it deserved.

I remember those first days of reading feeds though – they were incredibly exhilarating. The ability to zip down a stream of updates from my favorite sources, as fast as my eyes and brain could handle, until something caught my interest and I stopped to read, was incredible. It never ended! It was a never-ending flow personalized goodness. I certainly didn’t feel guilty for having unread items! I was thrilled and thankful for everything I did get to read! I’ve never understood that feeling of guilt over unread items, and I’m not a guy incapable of understanding feelings of guilt.

RSS has been my bread and butter for the last several years now. It pays my bills and it is a metaphor for life. I love it. And the fact that the very user-friendly Bloglines is dying, that it won’t bring that joy, personal growth, career opportunity and intellectual fulfillment to other people – that’s just tragic.

Those are my thoughts about the demise of Bloglines. What are yours? Please share them in comments below, maybe I’ll turn them into a ReadWriteWeb blog post.

A Startup I’ve Now Used Every Day for the Past Week: Nsyght

Nsyght is a clever service with a terrible name (it’s hard to remember) and stock photo on its home page, but don’t be fooled – it’s really useful. I wrote about it on ReadWriteWeb last week under the title How to Search Inside Twitter Lists, and that’s just what it’s for. After a few minutes to index your stream, Nsyght will let you search inside tweets from your friends, inside particular lists or your own archive for months back in history. It’s awesome. I’ve been using it to filter for images shared by friends on Twitter (great for quick little posts) and to find old Tweets of mine that I can’t find nearly as quickly in any other way. And searching inside a Twitter list of topical experts for their opinions on a particular matter? So hot. It’s like a Custom Search Engine for twitter lists, which is incredibly powerful.

I think of things like this as curating my existing community resources, an all-too under utilized strategy I believe. That’s the kind of thing I’m likely to bring up as a guest tomorrow on, which I cannot recommend highly enough that you check out.

How to Create Sub-Groups to Maximize Your Online Effectiveness

groupspic.jpgOver at ReadWriteWeb, where I spend most of my time, we write mostly news and analysis but some “how-to” type posts. Below you’ll find one of my favorite how-to posts I’ve written lately, originally titled Groups: The Secret Weapon of the Social Web. I thought I’d repost it here in case any readers missed it and because it’s relevant to my consulting work as well. Clients regularly hire me to advise or assist in the creation of strategic groups of contacts on various platforms. It’s super helpful. Check out this post and you’ll see why (and how).
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