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Salsa Blog

[Guest Post] How Nonprofits Can Leverage Social Listening

A fresh point of view is always welcome here at Salsa. With that in mind, we like to include posts by guest contributors to talk about donor management and many other topics in the nonprofit sector. Today’s guest post about social listening is by Roz Lemieux of Attentive.ly.

 “Every day for 30 minutes, listen to what your supporters are saying. Let them know you’re listening by favoriting tweets, retweeting and sending DM thank you notes to people sharing your content."

- Erik Leaver, Director of Digital Strategy, United to End Genocide.

Social media listening, also referred to as social media monitoring, is the practice of monitoring digital channels to understand the conversations around relevant topics, a specific phrase, word, or organization, so you can better engage those people driving the discussion and participating in it.

Anyone who manages social media understands this principle and is already practicing social listening. We’re going to show you how to build on this by making listening more actionable.

Social listening is more powerful than ever, because it can be matched with specific contacts. This means it provides context to your campaigns and your people. For example, it’s possible to monitor how key stakeholders such as donors, activists, alumni, etc. talk about the issues that surround your work. What communications director wouldn’t want to know how their supporters talk about them online?

Social Listening Is at Your Fingertips

Your people are talking. Are you listening?

Attentive.ly partnered with Fission Strategy to bring you a new guide that flips the funnel and shows a powerful new tactic to dramatically increase engagement with this one idea — responding to people as they talk about your work on social media.

Your People Are Talking. Are You Listening? is a how-to guide written for nonprofits that covers a few ideas you’ll be able to put to use right away (which probably isn’t like anything you’re currently doing).

The free guide explains:

  • Why social listening is powerful.
  • How to activate the people who talk about your work.
  • Rapid response engagement and how to make the most of trending terms.
  • What it looks like to activate social media influencers who talk about your issues.

What Should You Listen For?

The guide gives a straightforward list of what you should listen for and tips on engaging the people who mention them. For example, when creating your list of keywords to monitor, a common experience is to find the easy terms like campaign hashtags or the name of your organization. The trickier part is to find narrow terms that describe your programs, campaigns, or whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.

It takes time to create and refine your list if you’re doing it right, and here’s why: You need to find broad terms that capture enough mentions but are specific enough to reflect your intent. The best terms open the door for you to reply with a call-to-action related to the term.

Engage Influencers Who Talk About Your Terms

One of the greatest advantages of connecting social listening to social data like Klout scores is the ability to see the relative influence of the people who are talking about your campaigns or mission. We talk about three different types of influencers in the guide, because it informs how best to approach influencers.

It’s key to know the difference of VIP and Everyday influencers so you can spend your time wisely and get the most from each mention. While VIPs can bring a ton of attention to your campaign, there won’t be as many hiding out in your CRM. The majority of your influencers will have a modest reach and Klout score, but as a whole, have substantial network reach.

In addition, these “everyday” influencers welcome opportunities to share your message. The key here is to find them and ask them — but don’t forget to also show your appreciation of them as your social media ambassadors!

Social Listening In Action

United to End Genocide (UEG) used social listening to inform their decision on when to ramp up their campaign efforts in Yemen last year. Given organizational capacity and the lack of a clear advocacy ask regarding the conflict, UEG began monitoring the situation through social listening but didn’t run any advocacy campaigns.

Noticing an uptick in mentions from social listening later in the year, they took action by creating a page dedicated to Yemen-related content, as well as promoted new content on social media.

social listening example

With limited outreach to social influencers, the campaign began paying off in the same week with thousands of mentions after just a few of the social influencers who cared deeply about this issue retweeted one of the posts.


social listening donor Tweet


If a nonprofit with four staff members can find success, you can, too, with a few key ingredients. The most important factor to making social listening actionable is to 1) work on an issue people actually talk about on social media and 2) have a plan of action when they do talk about key terms. 

If Their Voice Matters, Show It

Showing appreciation for supporters via social is the low hanging fruit of engagement, because it’s so easy to show people who mention your terms that you’re both paying attention and value their contributions.

You can’t skip this step and hope to have success with influencer engagement. It’s all about building the relationships. These first small steps of engagement build trust and help establish the relationships you need to have supporters respond to your asks.

Attentive.ly Integrates with Salsa

Salsa’s integration with Attentive.ly allows you to push “groups” into Attentive.ly, then push back with new social listenting intellience. The integration tells you things like what your supporters, donors, or activists are talking about in relation to your organization. The Attentive.ly integration allows you target supporters in real-time based on social data and social mentions and with influencer support.

Technology that allows you to to reply to your people in the moment, when they are most interested in getting involved, is available. Know what people are saying on social media and who is influential so you’re able to boost engagement and drive action when people are most excited about your work.


guest author Roz LemieuxRoz Lemieux is CEO of Attentive.ly and founding partner at Fission Strategy. She served as the Executive Director of the New Organizing Institute afterworking for MoveOn.org and spending a number of years managing online campaigns for social causes. She has won awards including the a 2014 Stevie, Top 40 Women in DC Tech, the 2012 Campaigns & Elections Innovators Award, “Young Women of Achievement” in 2009.

Topics: Marketing