Listening in on the Real-Time Web

Your customers are talking about you. Can you hear them? Trust Agents, a new book by noted bloggers and social media consultants Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, is a practical guide to learning how to improve your business using the web in its 2.0, real-time form.

The real-time web encompasses social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook: sites that feature an unending stream of messages, status updates, and news alerts. The flow of this conversation has captured attention for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the rapid adoption and expansion these social-media platforms have experienced in the past year.

Brogan and Smith emphasize that, to be effective, businesses and individuals need to build trust and social capital through open interactions on the real-time web. How to start? By building a “listening station,” a way to find out what people are saying about you, your company, industry, competitors, etc.


  • Download or sign up for an RSS newsreader, an efficient means to review new information posted to multiple websites and blogs within one program or web service. If you’re new to RSS newsreaders, try the web-based Google Reader.
  • Go to Technorati and search for your company name. On the search results page, find the orange RSS icon, copy the link, and add it to your newsreader. Now, whenever someone writes a blog post and mentions your company name, it will appear in your newsreader. Repeat this step for abbreviations of your company name, your own name, industry, competitors, etc.
  • Do the same at Google’s blog search (you’ll get some duplicates but Google finds some mentions that Technorati doesn’t include).
  • Repeat once more, this time with Twitter.

We’ll return soon with recommendations about joining the conversation. For now, start listening. You may be surprised by what you hear.