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David Alston – The Twitter 20 Interview about Social Media Listening

Authors: Jay Baer Jay Baer
Posted Under: Social Media
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David AlstonDavid Alston is a singer. A photographer. The former host of an improv comedy show. He’s also a vastly experienced technology marketer – currently the Vice President of Marketing for the conversation monitoring software company Radian6. He’s also Canadian, so is helpful and kind as a default setting.

I first met David at the excellent Marketing Profs Digital Mixer conference last fall. He participated in a Twitter 20 interview (20 questions live on Twitter) and illuminated the present and future of Radian6, listening, and the social media universe.

You may also want to read David’s blog, TweetPR – it’s excellent and I have it on my RSS feed.

Disclosure: I use Radian6, and it is one of the two social media monitoring tools (Techrigy) I recommend to my clients.

1. @jaybaer: How do you describe what @radian6 does?

  • @davidalston @radian6 gives a brand a way to answer the “social phone” – listening and engaging with those calling out to them in SM.

2. @jaybaer: I like the “social phone” analogy. There are a number of others in the monitoring space, how do you set @radian6 apart?

  • @davidalston: We listen and build what our community needs (foundation) The support we receive back from them has brought us to this point.

3. @jaybaer: Are there companies that should NOT use @radian6 or other listening tools? Does listening and engagement have to go together?

  • @davidalston I’ll go back to the “social phone” analogy – should any company not answer the call. Listening first, engagement soon after.
  • Companies that excel at amazing customer service will excel at SM listening and engaging. It’s in their culture.

4. @jaybaer: Where do you see listening within the overall social media umbrella?

  • @davidalston: Listening should be first. Listening helps you discover your own custom community spread out over millions of conversations.

5. @jaybaer: What’s the key to getting more companies using listening tools? How do we reach a tipping point?

  • @davidalston: Eye opening experiences I believe. Show what’s being said. Or case studies. Or new ways of looking at things. Combo of things.

6. @jaybaer: I’m sure there are examples on both sides, but do you see agencies or brands using listening tools more effectively so far?

  • @davidalston: Both. There are many use cases for listening & engaging. Hear are 10 – some with agency, some corp or both –

7. @jaybaer: It seems like the value proposition of listening tools is higher for bigger brands and B2C (more conversation to monitor).

  • @davidalston: While bigger brands have more conversation if you “actively” listen to your community you can create conversation at any size.
  • @radian6 itself is an example of a b2b company that uses active listening. It can work regardless of size.

8. @jaybaer: I’m not a database engineer, but I suspect corralling and parsing the flood of data is tricky. What’s the hardest part?

  • @davidalston: Thank goodness I’m the non-tech guy so I don’t have to worry about it 🙂 We work with an amazing team that tackles this.

9. @jaybaer: My favorite @radian6 term is the “River of News”. How did that come about?

  • @davidalston: Because we refresh data in real-time, found posts/tweets constantly flow by. Thus the River name.

10. @jaybaer: How does being in New Brunswick in Canada impact the company?

  • @davidalston: Well, long plane rides 2 conf’s aside 🙂 the great thing about SM is that location is less relevant. I’m WFH today 4 example.

11. @jaybaer: I’m glad you mentioned conferences. How do you decide which to attend? So many of them now.

  • @davidalston: It’s tough 4 sure.Look for balance of community we know vs. community we want to know plus opportunities to engage in some way.

12. @jaybaer: Congrats on the new round of financing. Other than a better brand of scotch, what are the plans for that capital?

  • @davidalston: LOL. Well. lots of R&D for more cool functionality, more connections with community (Ambers’ role) & content (Warren role) etc

13. @jaybaer: I should know this, but don’t. Are there language or regional versions? Are you going to actively sell globally?

  • @davidalston: Good question. We support 10 languages & filtering by region now. We have many customers deployed globally.
  • Customers like OgilvyPR, Weber Shandwick, Dell, and partners like Cision plus many others take advantage of these features.
  • We also have our UK partner, @6consulting, working with us to provide on the ground presence there and support.

14. @jaybaer: Any plans for a mobile and/or iPhone interface for a stripped down version of @radian6?

  • @davidalston: The cool thing about the iPhone is it’s full browsing ability. It opens up some pretty cool possibilities for sure.

15. @jaybaer: You mentioned hiring @warrenss and @ambercadabra Is the plan to create multi-modal SM-oriented content like @hubspot ?

  • @davidalston: Well I’m a big fan of @chrisbrogan‘s teachings on content marketing. Providing content of value that informs & builds ties.
  • Goes back to the tipping point we talked about earlier. The community is looking for content to help them adopt SM.

16. @jaybaer: Any plans then to reprise the Twebinar series ( you did last year with @chrisbrogan ?

  • @davidalston: We had a great response to it last year so I would love to see it happen again this year. Plus try a few new twists too. 🙂

17. @jaybaer: Will @radian6 provide social media consulting services? Or perhaps a Certified Partner Program like many SAAS companies?

  • @davidalston: The great thing about having so many agencies using @radian6 now is that we have this powerful network of consultants.
  • Certification for various stages is a very cool idea for sure Jason.

18. @jaybaer: How do you personally cope with social media overload (other than using @radian6)? So much content, so little time.

  • @davidalston: There were 124800 conversations mentioning “social media” in last 30 days. “Targeted listening” is the only way to do it.

19. @jaybaer: You’re a very good photographer. How did you get into it & is there a tie between photo snapshot and conversation snapshot?

  • @davidalston: Thx Jason. For me photography is about the only hobby I have left 🙂 Nikon goes with me everywhere. It’s definitely my escape.
  • I definitely love shooting pics from new perspectives, looking for patterns. I suppose you could draw a parallel.
  • Thanks for sharing this Jason. I’ve also tried to organize them into photo sets too –

20. @jaybaer: You’re of Scottish descent (kilt at your wedding). Help me understand why you people worship Robert Burns? I don’t get it.

  • @davidalston: LOL. Until you’ve tasted haggis you’ll never understand the secret 🙂
Thanks again to David for a great edition of Twitter 20. Who would you like to see on a future edition?
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