How To Use Facebook As An Industry Listening Tool
Posted on January 22, 2013
Savvy communicators and marketers know that listening to industry chatter on social media is an excellent way to keep tabs on customers and competitors. Social listening tools (ranging from free to crazy expensive) claim to give users the ability to monitor the conversation, but in almost all cases Facebook posts are left out of the mix.
Although I’ve not yet found a way to effectively monitor industry conversation within Facebook profile timelines (please comment if you know how!), I recently started using a new tool that makes monitoring industry conversation from brands and organizations much easier: Facebook Interest Lists.
What Facebook Interest Lists Do
An interest list is basically a collection of bookmarks – you can add any page or profile that allows subscribers to an interest list. For example, if you work in college admissions and want to keep tabs on how admissions offices around the country are using social media, you could search for admissions pages and add them to an interest list. Better still, you could search public interest lists and see if someone has already done the work for you! Imagine another scenario: as a new college grad, you may be in hardcore job search mode and begin applying to 20, 30, maybe 40 companies! A great applicant should know what the company is saying in the social media space, so you could create a (private) potential employers list.
Why You Should Use Facebook Interest Lists
Consolidate all updates in an easy to read format. You can click on each interest list you create and see a news feed of only those updates. This can save you time, especially if you’re supposed to be working but end up wading through your Mom’s vacation photos to find relevant industry posts. You don’t really have to worry about forgetting about your lists – once or twice a day a highlight of some of each list’s posts will appear in your main news feed.
Become a stealth fan. You do not have to like a page in order to add it to an interest list. This allows you to listen to your competition without drawing attention to yourself by clicking the like button.
Become a resource for others. In general, the social media community likes to share. If you put forth the time and effort to create a stellar list, you can leave it public and allow others to subscribe to it. This might just be a nice gesture on your part (i.e., finding all the college admissions pages on Facebook), or it could be a new vehicle for content curation (subscribe to all public posts by thought leaders on a specific topic, or all members of your favorite baseball team).
The Nuts and Bolts of Facebook Interest Lists
Adding items to the list. Visit a Facebook page. Click the gear box to the right of the like button. Choose “Add to interest lists.” You’ll be given the choice of your current lists or the ability to create a new list. The process is the same to add a user profile subscription to a list, but the gear box is next to the “message” button.
Viewing your lists. In the left navigation of your Facebook newsfeed, scroll down past your list of applications. You should see a column marked “interests.” Each of your lists will be listed there. Click on one to view a list-specific news feed.
Finding public lists. Also in the “interest” column, click on “add interests.” You’ll be taken to a page where you can create a new list of your own or search through publicly available lists. You’ll also receive suggestions of lists you might like based on your Facebook activity.
Interest Lists In Action
A quick review of my suggested lists shows that some of my friends have already taken advantage of this option. For example, Brenda Bethman has created a list of over 60 women’s centers on college campuses—and it’s followed by almost 100 people!
This is not a new Facebook feature – it’s been around almost a year. However, it only recently appeared on my radar. Have you found a novel way to use interest lists? Or, do you have thoughts on how it could improve your focus and/or efficiency on Facebook? Please share in the comments.