During our workshops, we constantly underline the importance for businesses and other organisations of monitoring who is saying what about you (your company, competitors, products, brands or staff) where on the Social Web. Before diving head long into a new Social Media channel or initiative, a critical first step is to listen.
As argued in a previous post, Social Media is not a broadcast channel. First and foremost, Social Media is about listening to and engaging with your customers, partners, community and ‘tribe’.
“God gave us two ears and one mouse (sic)” – adapted Chinese proverb
A wide range of Social Media Monitoring Tools are available to help us listen. Unfortunately, the more sophisticated tools such as Radian6, Alterian SM2, Sysomos Heartbeat and SocialRadar, can be complex to use and very expensive. At the other end of the spectrum, there are no cost tools such as Topsy, Google Alerts, SocialMention, RSS Feeds etc that provide a useful starting point but lack the sophistication of the more expensive tools.
Through our year-long experimentation with the range of Monitoring Tools available, we have developed an approach to Social Media Listening that provides much of the functionality of the more expensive tools but at a fraction of the cost (free if you want to try to set it up on your own). For most of us, the proposed solution is more than ‘good enough’.
The various steps involved in creating a fully customised and personalised Social Media Monitoring (Listening) Tool for your business are listed below. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you need support in setting this up.
Social Media Monitoring Tool: Set Up
1. Create a Google Reader Account
- Go to Google Reader and complete the form indicated
2. Find Relevant Subscriptions and Add to Google Reader
- Subscribe to the RSS Feeds of web sites, blogs, forums etc relevant to your business. Add these to your Google Reader list
- Go to a free Social Media Search Engine such as Topsy
- Search the site. Use the Advanced Search facility to fine tune your search
- Once you are happy that the search is giving you what you are looking for, subscribe to the RSS Feed for that search
- Repeat the above for other relevant key words/phrases
3. Manage Subscriptions in Google Reader
- Go to Google reader
- Click Settings and then Subscriptions
- Add a new Folder, in our example called <Acme Industry> (click Change Folders dropdown and New Folder)
- Move relevant subscriptions to <Acme Industry> (click Change Folders)
4. Review your River of News
- You should now see your River of News from the Homepage of Google Reader – within the folder <Acme Industry>
- Click items to scan and otherwise review
- Think about doing this for 5 or 10 minutes a day or more often if needed
- Google Reader will also allow you to assign more important posts or to take action through the following functionality: (i) Add Star; (ii) Share by Email; (iii) Keep Unread; (iv) Add additional tags.
- You can also search within <Acme Industry> or Starred Items for additional keywords allowing you to drill deeper, such as “hate” “product”, “love” “company”, and so on.
- Finally, there are options to share the password for Google reader with colleagues creating a more powerful workflow process.
We believe this type of approach could be considered a good enough means of monitoring Social Media for most businesses.
For those looking for something more Advanced but still free/low cost to use, please stay tuned for another post in this area.
As usual, comments and feedback very welcome.
Alan, Jim and Vincent
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