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

Setting up an online monitoring system for social media is one of the most important strategies in building a successful social media presence, whether for customer service, crisis prevention, reputation management, or just finding out what your competitors are up to .  Who should you monitor?

  • Advocates/detractors: Advocates are an important marketing force. Growing their numbers will not only spread the good word about your brand, but their allegiance can build a force to help you mitigate a negative online event. Detractors will always be with you. Learn their hot button issues and work to bring them out of the dark side.
  • Internal staff and personal brands in your organization: This can include employees, leadership, student-athletes, faculty, or anyone that may speak on behalf of your organization. This is the core group. They are your most potent group of advocates.
  • Competitors and media: Why are they in the same category? Because they may both talk about you at some point, and you want to know what they are saying.

Start With the Basics I’m going to use Hootsuite and Google Alerts to make up our elementary dashboard for online monitoring. Google Alerts because it is free and searches the whole web, and Hootsuite because it is free and does a good job of organizing listening tabs for real-time Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus updates. This system is free, but I recommend that brands use higher power tools if the budget will allow. Some tools like Mention and Sprout Social do a good job for little money. If you can afford $500 or more a month, I would suggest going with a more powerful tool like Radian 6 or Meltwater Buzz. Those tools will automatically track many of the issues you will have to analyze by hand with free tools. Here is an extensive list you can start with from Jeremiah Owyang.  If you’re a large brand, you need a more powerful system.

Update on June 10, 2013: I also have added Mention to my list of free listening apps I recommend. Again, no affiliation, just like it. The free version has a data ceiling, but the paid versions are reasonable.

Instead of going into detail about Google Alerts here, I will give you a few links that can guide you through the process of setting up a Google Alert system to get real-time web alerts on topics, names, or news items you want to follow delivered to your inbox. There are a number of filters available for each alert including how often to receive, which platforms to search, and others. I use them to follow breaking news stoires important to me. How to use Google Alerts to Monitor Your Online Presence from Hubspot Ninja’s Guide to Google Alerts from Search Engine Journal Getting Started Guide from Google Hootsuite for Monitoring 101 If you have never used an online monitoring dashboard before, Hootsuite is a good place to start. It will let you monitor, post, and schedule posts in one spot. It’s elementary but works very well for basic monitoring. The first thing you need is an account. Sign up here.Next, I recommend you run through their basic tutorial and then you’re off. First, I recommend going to your Twitter home page and setting up lists to monitor. If you’re not familiar with lists, here is a quick shot on how to set them up:

  1. Go to your Twitter home page. Using Twitter search (upper right of menu bar), find the account you want to follow. If you know the username already, you can just type it in the search box. I am running a search for Dick Vitale, a popular ESPN commentator. After you find the search account you want to list, look for the ghost figure icon that houses the pull down menu for functions and click (circled in red):

Next, click on “add or remove from lists” from the pull down menu on the ghost icon:   If you want to make a new list, click on “create list” in the next screen (below).  You also have an option to make the list public or private. I suggest you make your monitoring lists private unless you want the public to see who you are monitoring.   The difference between listing people and following people is that “listed” people are not shown on your public profile as people you are following. Just remember that listed people also don’t have the same options when it comes to direct messaging and limited audience @replies (because you are not following them). Once you have all your monitoring lists complete—don’t forget to make them private—you can go to Hootsuite and set up your monitoring dashboard. Setting up Hootsuite will be part two—look for it this week. If you have any tips on setting up Twitter lists or using Google alerts, please share them in the comments.

Make sure you read part two about how to set up your basic online monitoring system for early warning about negative events here.