COM0015 – Blog #1: Tools & Sources

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The Algonquin College Social Media Program has presented me with a wealth of knowledge and different ways of approaching social media, and has shown countless ways to listen/monitor social media content that is important/relevant.  I have also learned that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and it takes some experimenting to figure out what works best. Because I work in such a specialized field, with comparatively little content available, some of the more popular tools haven’t been particularly effective, but I have landed on a couple of things that seem to do the trick for me.  The key tool that I utilize for listening/monitoring is Google Alerts, tied into Feedly to make it easier to review results.  I started utilizing this way back when I took Monitoring and Measurement; I created lists of keywords that I have tweaked over time, and continue to change as new trends emerge.  Google Alerts has been useful, not only because it is free, but once it is up and running, it needs very little maintenance.  It also allows me to filter out terms that are similar, but do not apply to my company’s products, or the industry.

After perusing and trying out a number of different listening/monitoring tools, it struck me that I was really just over-complicating things.  As it turns out, the easiest and least time consuming method is to manually search Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, using many of the same keywords that I utilize with Google Alerts.  While this may not work well for a large scale operation, my industry is small, and fairly specialized.  The area where doing a manual search really shines is in closed groups; to the best of my knowledge there are no tools that can do this.  I get a lot of information from the groups I belong to, and a lot of that comes from searching specific terms.

Speaking strictly from a work perspective, my absolute go-to for industry news and updates is Career Wise, put out by Contact Point. It is an aggregator of the top articles, blogs, events, etc. that is published weekly.  It covers anything and everything to do with Career Counselling and Career Development in Canada.  Contact Point is also a huge influencer in the field of Career Development in Canada, so being retweeted, or included in Career Wise is a great accomplishment.  The other source I go to for industry news and updates is LinkedIn; there are a number of influencers who publish content on a daily/weekly basis that I follow.  The one downside to this is that there is no filter, the content comes straight from the author, and it is up to me, and the rest of the readers to determine the content’s value.  Of course, being social media, there is the opportunity for immediate feedback and dialogue.

Overall, these tools and sources have been working for me for some time; while I do periodically revisit my keywords list when there are new products, programs, or legislation. I don’t really feel the need to change how I listen/monitor. I am however curious to see what others, who work in niche industries do for listening/monitoring social media. Let me know by leaving a comment below.

COM0015, Blog 1: Tools and Resources

I have a full-time job, which limits the amount of time I can spend on social media work for FlashDesignsStudio.com (FDS). I created a Feedly dashboard as part of the Social Media Monitoring and Measurement course; however, I found it limiting. I prefer Hootsuite. I spend a half hour on the bus going back and forth to work each day. Hootsuite allows me to be productive during my commute. Through the Hootsuite app on my tablet, I can monitor my various streams and like, share or retweet effortlessly. Feedly does not have that capability. On weekends, I use Hootsuite’s online interface to schedule a week’s worth of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts. Hootsuite also connects to Drop Box, making organizing and posting images that much faster and easier. I sometimes use Ow.ly shortened URLs to track traffic.

On weekends, I use the Google Analytics plug in on the WordPress website to monitor traffic on the FDS website, which is one of the key success indicators. On a monthly basis, I can dig deeper into the website traffic and audience reports through the Google Analytics website. This is particularly useful to see who (demographic information) is coming from where (our social media networks or elsewhere). Having updated websites as far back as 1999, I am so thankful I no longer need to sort through raw website user data.

Of course, I also use Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics and Bitley to monitor and track social media activity, but I spend more time on Hootsuite and Google Analytics.

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I have many sources of news. I think my best source of information is a set of Google Alerts (which I view through Hootsuite) that shows photography contests, exhibits and other events happening in the Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto triangle. As well as providing content for the website, blog, Facebook and Twitter, Norm and I use the information to plan our photo excursions and submit images to contests. When I finish well in a contest, I post it on the FDS social media networks. It is a testament to the quality and creativeness of my images.

While most photographers are aware of all the magazines, stores and manufacturers on social media, few know about Science Daily’s photography research RRS feed (which I also view through Hootsuite). Having worked with medical and academic journals for more than a decade and with newspapers and magazines for longer than that, I can understand complex ideas and explain them in plain, everyday language. I rewrite the photography research media releases with information from the published research paper and post as Technology News in News Flash, the FDS blog. These have included advances in lens technology and how researchers are data-mining social media photos to guide land use policy, conservation planning and development decisions. This is well suited for our more advanced photographer audience and positions FDS as being knowledgeable of the cutting edge.

COM0015 Blog #1 Tools and Sources

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.

 TOOLS:

 

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.

 

SOURCES:

 

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.

COM0015 – Post #1 – Tools & Sources

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My involvement in social media was not particularly extensive until I began taking the social media program. Facebook was about the extent of the platforms I used. Since taking this program, I have had exposure and explored numerous new social media platforms. I have a twitter account AND I’m following blogs.

Although I would say for personal use, the social media platform that I use the most is Facebook. I guess you could say it is the listening and monitoring tool for my life and my own personal trends.

There are so many sources of information, and I find it can be overwhelming checking each individual site, so I find Feedly very helpful because it allows me to condense all of the sites I am interested in following, from news media to business sites to recipe sites all in one place.

Twitter is also very useful for the same reason. I rarely post to Twitter, but I like being able to follow the news and activities of specific organizations and people, and having it all in one place to quickly peruse. I use Twitter primarily for work. I work in the pharmaceutical industry, so I follow accounts specific to my needs, and Twitter keeps me constantly in the loop with all the news and updates specific to my industry and what I’m looking for.

I’m also a bit of a Pinterest junky. I use it primarily for recipes, but I also use it for fashion ideas, home décor ideas and party planning ideas. I’m in the middle of planning a baby shower for a close friend, and yes, sometimes I feel like I’m poaching ideas using this site, but I love that you can have an idea in mind and Pinterest will provide you with a way to create and execute that idea. Besides, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? 

Efficiency is key for me in a social media platform because A) there is so much to sift through and B) I have a very short attention span online, so if I can get my information at-a-glance, and pick and choose what I want to read through a quick title scan, the happier I am.