In a world where information is not only at our finger tips, but available 24/7, it is sometimes difficult to sort through the “crap” and get to the good stuff. It is my personal belief that anyone using social media, especially professionally must have a strategy. As discussed, a large part of this strategy is listening and monitoring.
How do you know what is making an impact? You have to monitor. My favourite monitoring tool has to be Google Alerts. I work in communications and this is huge for me. I do not have to search out the daily mentions of the organization that I work for; they come to me in a neat, tidy, customized email. Since I work for a Holding Company and manage communications for 4 organizations, this is a life saver. It is simple and meets my current need for tracking. The topper is that you can even generate an RSS feed and import the alerts into your dashboard tool, giving an overall display. In addition, this feeds nicely into Google Analytics which allows me to monitor the traffic each of our websites is getting and break it down into detail. I have not found another tool that is a) free and b) this effective in both instances.
Another preferred tool that I use for monitoring is Twitter. Hash tags are amazing, period. It allows tracking of an event, product, topic, location etc., just about anything under the sun. At any point in time I can go in and do a search on one of our products to see what people are saying about it. I recently got married and an upcoming trend is that couple are setting up a hash tag for their wedding so they everyone’s photos are linked together and easily viewed by attendees. On a professional basis, it allows my organization to monitor tweets that are linked to the company and respond in a timely manner. It is now part of my work day to receive several email notifications from Twitter. They are doing my work for me, who doesn’t love that?
When looking at news, each morning I get my local dose through therecord.com. In result of my line of work (communications and community relations), it is important that I am connected to the community in which my company does business. I need to be aware of the local trends and developments and this site allows me to have up to date knowledge when having conversations with clients or prospects professionally. I also read the headlines of the Toronto Star and New York Times out of personal interest and to see if anything catches my eye.
Secondly, I look to the Huffington Post quite frequently but if I am being completely honest, after I go local, I go to Twitter. Twitter provides me with the most up to date headlines and articles. Most papers online or print do not function in real time like Twitter does. When major things happen, such as the Ottawa bus/train collision, I can get the most current information and join in on the discussion on Twitter. This also helps from a business standpoint as in the past I have looked to Twitter for up to date weather conditions. When the roads were flooded, I needed to know where and if it would affect our clients. I am able to get an uncensored, general public view of what is occurring specifically at that moment and it doesn’t cost a dime.
In summary, there is A LOT to listen to. Find the right tool for you and don’t be afraid to try out new sources of news or new monitoring tools. Things are changing and the best tool today, may no longer be the best tool tomorrow.
*Image sourced from: http://www.projecteve.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/socialmedia1.jpg