Note from Beth:   In the decade or so that I’ve been doing social media, I’ve always been an advocate of  the “Listen, Learn, Adapt” approach to doing social and a decade later, it is still very important for success.   The first and most important step is for organizations to put on their listening ears and monitor conversations, get feedback, and continuously improve.   I invited Roz Lemieux is CEO of Attentively and founding partner at Fission Strategy to write a guest post sharing the best and next practices for nonprofits to use listening effectively as part of their social media strategy.

New Guide: How To Engage Your Supporters with Social Listening Guest Post By Roz Lemieux

Social media listening (or social media monitoring) is the practice of paying close attention to digital channels when conversations relevant to your cause are being discussed. Whether the debate surrounds a keyword, organization or issue, understanding the dialogue can help you engage the people driving the conversation.

We partnered with Fission Strategy to bring you a new guide that explores a simple but powerful tactic to dramatically increase engagement — responding to people as they talk about your work online.

“Your People Are Talking. Are You Listening?” is a guide written nonprofits that shares some techniques you can put to use right away and help your organization engage in the right place at the right time. Get it here:

If you manage social media accounts, you’re probably already doing some of this. What we’ll show you is how to build on your engagement opportunities and take action.

Social Listening Is Powerful (And Why You Should Care)

How your key stakeholders, donors and activists talk about the issues surrounding your work is not only observable, it is measurable. It’s relatively easy to see trending terms with your supporter base, which is similar to seeing the weekly headlines in your CRM. This provides the context you need to understand how your most important advocates and future donors talk about your cause. Events happen, and when your issues are front and center, practicing social listening will allow you to engage your base efficiently and at exactly the right moment.

What Should You Listen For?

In our guide, you will find a straightforward summary of what to listen for, as well as tips on engaging the users who mention them. For example, one of the best places to start is to create a simple list of keywords, then work towards narrowing your terms that describe your programs, campaigns or issue area.

To fully build out and optimize your list of search terms will take time. You will need to find broad terms that capture enough mentions yet are specific enough to indicate your purpose. Finding the perfect terms for your list can allow you to quickly respond to discussions with an earnest call to action that resonates.

Once you have an actionable list of terms to monitor, you’ll also want to figure out to whom you’ll pay attention. By connecting your existing data from email lists and databases with social listening skills, you’ll have both context and focus for the terms being monitored.

Segment your data and use your social listening skills. When influencers and supporters talk about your work online, you’ll respond quickly on the right channel with the right call to action!



Here’s a specific example of how one nonprofit utilized their social listening skills to vastly expand their reach online among those activists deeply passionate about their issue area.

Social Listening In Action

United to End Genocide (UEG), a group with only four staff members, was paying attention to the conflict in Yemen last year. Both their capacity as a group and the lack of a clear advocacy solution regarding the conflict left them in question as to WHEN to run advocacy campaign, so they listened.


When more and more people began mentioning Yemen online, their trending terms chart in spiked. They knew that was the time to strike and and responded by creating a page on their website ( and Yemen-related blog posts.

They also reached out to a handful of influencers who cared deeply about the conflict area, created dynamic content that encouraged these influencers to retweet their content, and watched the mentions on social channels come rolling in.

Listen to the recorded webinar, “Influencing the Conversation,” which describes how United to End Genocide uses social listening in their campaigns –

What You Need To Make Social Listening Actionable

What we can learn from the case of UEG and Yemen is that if a small nonprofit with four staff members can find this type of success, so can yours. To make social listening actionable, you must 1) work on an issue that is actually being talked about on social media, and 2) know your plan of action when your key terms are being discussed.

Engage Influencers Who Talk About Your Terms

Social data like Klout scores allows you to observe the relative influence of the people talking about your campaigns or issue areas online, and when combined with social listening, can provide a huge advantage. We profile three different types of influencers in the guide and how to best to approach them.

Efficiency is always key when engaging online, and understanding the difference between “VIP” and “every day” influencers is key to maximizing your time spent and squeezing the most impact out of each mention. Check out “How to Approach Your Social Media Influencers” for more tips at

While it’s key to find and engage your VIP influencers since they can bring a lot of attention to your campaign, there won’t be as many in your CRM. As such, we recommend also finding your

Everyday influencers who as individuals have a modest reach and Klout score, but have substantial reach as a whole. Also, your “everyday” supporters are more receptive to any opportunity to share your message than celebrity types who are bombarded with requests. What’s important is to find and approach them. Don’t forget to show your appreciation when they share your campaign to their networks!

If Their Voice Matters, Show It

It is so easy to show your supporters that you are paying attention to their dialogue and value their shares and comments, so don’t skip this step. You can’t forget to thank your supporters and expect to have success in engagement going forward. With just a few kind words and clicks, you can build trust, establish relationships and empower your online influencers to continue to support both you and your campaign asks.

In our blog, “How Nonprofits Can Show Love on Social Media” (, we polled some of our favorite nonprofit tech friends to share their tips on showing social love on behalf of an organization. Understanding what this love looks like on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter can help you support your own donors, influencers and the activists that care deeply about your cause.

Social Listening Is At Your Fingertips

Technology that allows you to to reply to your people in the moment, when they are most interested in getting involved, is available (and affordable). 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 your work.

The technology that will help you reach your people on the right channel and at the moment when they are most interested in getting involved is easily accessible. Practice some basic social listening skills, hear what people are saying on social media and know who is influential so that you can efficiently boost engagement when your campaign is at its most visible. Get your supporters excited at the right moment, and use their enthusiasm to drive action for your cause!

Download the Guide –



Want to learn about social listening from real people? Join our webinar, April 26!

Join Fission’s CEO Cheryl Contee, Anita Jackson of, Colin Delany of and Ralph Medley of the American Friends Service Committee as they share their thoughts in a Webinar session on Tuesday, April 26 at 11:00 a.m. PST, 2:00 p.m. EST. More info:


Roz Lemieux is CEO of Attentively and founding partner at Fission Strategy. She served as the Executive Director of the New Organizing Institute after working for 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.



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