How to Set Up an Easy to Use Online Monitoring System – Part Two

Part of being social (as opposed to doing social) is monitoring what others are saying about you and knowing when to respond.  In part one, I outlined the basics of setting up Twitter lists and Google Alerts to build the foundation of a simple online monitoring system. Whether you’re monitoring for customer service, online brand mentions, competition, or something as focused as monitoring members of a sports team, the process need not be elaborate or expensive.

We will set up our online monitoring system using Hootsuite, a free social media platform that let’s you monitor Twitter and any Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, or Google Plus accounts you are an admin for. There are limits on a free account, so be sure and check the Hootsuite help desk to answer any questions.

First you will need to set up a Hootsuite account and run through their basic tutorial so you know your way around the dashboard. Next, we’ll take a look at the dashboard icons.  In the screenshot below (click image to enlarge), the tabs on this sample dashboard are circled in red. These are topical categories I have already set up that have several streams or searches on each tab. You can see I have three main tabs set up: cksyme (Twitter), edleaders, and clients & sched. Each of these tabs house several streams I monitor regularly.

You can add a tab, which holds up to ten streams, by clicking the plus button (circled in yellow). Name the tab, and then start populating it with streams (button circled in green).  There is a small calendar icon (circled in blue) which can be used to schedule posts, and the purple circle on the right is the Twitter search function. Any search you run can be set up as a stream, if you wish.


You can see by the screen below that Hootsuite gives you several options to add streams on a tab:

  • Stream: this will produce a list of streams you have already established. If you want to duplicate a certain stream on another tab,  you can use this function.
  • Search/keyword: either one of these functions work for searching keywords, twitter usernames you already know, names of brands or people you want to search, and other functions,
  • Lists: this is a list of your Twitter lists. We made these up in part one of this piece.

All lists you set up in Twitter should show up on this menu—public and private. Just populate your tab with the lists you want to follow. I suggest keeping the tabs topic-specific. For instance, if you are following student-athletes on Twitter, I would suggest doing lists by team. This makes it easier to know at a glance which coach needs to be alerted if a questionable tweet is discovered. Also, don’t forget the public-private designation here. I am a proponent of private lists for work-related monitoring, whether clients, student-athletes, or internal personal brands.

If you are monitoring competitors, consider keeping them on the same tab with important keyword searches in that sector.  If you are a consultant monitoring clients, keep all your clients’ social media channels and search streams on the same tab. Note that there is also a “subscribed lists” function here where you can add any public lists you have subscribed to as well.

Now that you have your monitoring system set up, the trick is to use it consistently. I check Hootsuite three times a day: right away in the morning, right after the lunch hour in my time zone, and sometime around the end of the work day. If there is a hot button issue to follow, I also check-in around prime time television viewing at night.

You can also have a triage system set up around Hootsuite with multiple admins (a subscription fee is needed for multiple admins). If you’re monitoring for crisis or a negative event, you should check more often, and have your Google Alerts sent in real-time.  Also, I believe that sentiment analysis is an important part of monitoring, but that’s another topic for another day.

Once you set up a system that works well for you, it will become a regular part of your day. But as the saying goes, “getting started is half done.” Do you have any tips for monitoring you’d like to share? Please add to the conversation below in the comments.


  1. How to Set Up an Easy to Use Online Monitoring System – Part One - - February 18, 2013

    [...] Make sure you read part two about how to set up your basic online monitoring system for early warnin… [...]

  2. Surviving Student Athletes on Social Media: Be Prepared [Part Four] - - March 19, 2013

    [...] 1. A monitoring dashboard that includes alerts on key phrases and tracks the department brand and personal brands that are of interest to the department’s reputation. See how to set up a simple dashboard here (two parts). [...]

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