Social media listening and gathering information is critical if you want to be in the best position to know what’s going on and where key topics lie. One of the social media sites that you can do some powerful listening, especially if you have a business focused social media goal and objective, is LinkedIn. Most people are not really exploring the full potential of LinkedIn when it comes to listening to strategic conversations and identifying the influencers.

In addition to the standard LinkedIn search tool, here are some listening tactics that you should be looking at to help you keep up with the enormous amount of information coming at you on LinkedIn.

One of the hidden gems of LinkedIn is the Signal feature. It is located under the News tab of the LinkedIn tool bar. The key to this feature is not the quality of information but rather the quantity of filters that you can apply to narrow you search results and cut through the noise. This feature allows you to monitor LinkedIn’s Updates for any keywords or search terms you desire and to navigate the status stream more specifically than what you can do on your home page. You can pinpoint conversations/shares/status updates based upon key words, location, etc.

LinkedIn Answers is a great place to discover conversations around questions and answers. You can find a wealth of information on what people need help with and what they are talking about. Go to the LinkedIn toolbar and click “More” to find “Answers.” On the Answers page, you’ll find navigation on the right hand side where you can view, ask and/or answer questions by category.  When you are a category, you can refine your search further to pinpoint the more relevant expertise.

All the way at the bottom of that right navigation field is the little orange RSS symbol. Subscribing to a feed allows you to get all questions in that category and/or subcategory fed directly to you. You can subscribe to as many categories as you want.

LinkedIn Groups come in many shapes and sizes and they are great places to tap into all sorts of information. There are currently over 1.2 million groups, all run by LinkedIn members delivering a huge variety of content and focus areas. You can access Groups through the main search tool on the LinkedIn tool bar. However, the search function for the groups section on LinkedIn has just been improved. Access to the new Group Search function can be found via this link. With this new feature, there is more information displayed about the Group in the results page. Some additional filters, also allow you to pin point your search. In all cases, you can also see the main players and participants in each of these areas and hence have the opportunity to follow them in turn which again provides a way to listen to what is going on.

Another great source for listening content is LinkedIn Today. This feature gives you key stories in the areas that you are interested in, based on the information that you have in your profile. It essentially gives you your own personal online newspaper. It also has its own tool bar where you can view stories on numerous topics.  It’s how those stories are ranked which gives you the real listening ability (the stories are ranked according to the number of times people have shared them). You can also view who is actually sharing the headlines.

Using the above tools you can not only connect with “people in the know” via LinkedIn, but in most cases you can connect with them on other social media sites that they frequent based on the information that is shown on their profiles.

As you can see LinkedIn is truly a powerful listening engine. Developing a routine of listening with LinkedIn can provide great thought starters for your engagement strategies on not only LinkedIn but other social media sites.

In my next blog, I will examine some specific listening tactics for Twitter.

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