I have been a casual social media follower/user for a number of years but never really engaged with the monitoring/ listening tools available until I began this program.
I am still a novice user but I am really impressed with HootSuite, The platform is extremely user friendly and I feel it allowed me to develop my skills at my own pace. I appreciate having all of my accounts organized in one place and being able to schedule content such as Twitter posts. Right now I do not anything beyond the free version but I can see how the professional services would be useful to businesses, particularly those with limited resources to devote to social media.
Another tool I find extremely useful is the stats function built into my WordPress blog. I am still trying to build up my blog’s online presence so appreciate the information it provides. The stats function not only allows me to see how many views my latest post received but whether those views were referred from my Facebook or Twitter accounts, the most popular day of the week and time my blog posts are read, what external links my visitors clicked on and whether they also viewed past posts. I can break down statistics by day, month or years. As a novice blogger, the more information I can gather about my audience the better.
Twitter is my go to source for news and information. Since joining Twitter in 2010 I have cultivated a Twitter feed based on my individual interests: politics, parenting, Ottawa news, and Ottawa craft beer. I am a news junkie and I like getting my information as quickly as possible. I find information on emerging news stories can sometimes pop up on Twitter well before it even shows up on news websites. Twitter is also extremely useful for things like traffic that can change very rapidly. @511Ontario is a great account to follow if you spend any time travelling on ON provincial highways. @Ottawa_Traffic is a great Ottawa based traffic resource.
Feedly is less a source of news but more a resource to organize the various streams of information I want to follow. I began using Feedly about a month ago for academic purposes but have found it extremely helpful to track the online presence of several of my friends who have asked for my advice to bolster their personal brand. I have used Google alerts in the past but found the information often got lost in my inbox, being able to direct these alerts using RSS to Feedly allows me to quickly scan the information and screen out irrelevant information. Being able to organize the information into categories means that I can see at a glance which of my keywords is generating hits.