COM0015 – Blog #1: Weapons of Choice

Can we take a minute to talk about the phenomenon of information overload which really began with the development and mainstream use of the Internet and social media platforms? Every day alone an immense amount of social media content is created by the massive number of social media users. However, thanks to social media trend listening and monitoring tools, sorting through and locating relevant information for our unique individual or organizational needs has also never been easier — therefore with an increased surge of information, a means to filter, sort and organize that information must follow.

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To digress slightly, there’s a saying my father frequently uses — “we can’t afford to make all the mistakes ourselves”, and when he says this he’s referring to our time resource.

This same type of message can be applied to the multitude of growing resources available on the Internet, where individuals and organizations curate lists of social media listening and monitoring tools, for others’ use. These influencers and early adopters, through trial and error help to sort and simplify the options available for others, and therefore influence the use of tools utilized by later adopters, thereby becoming trend setters. This was in fact how I stumbled upon my favourite RSS reader, Digg, a social media trend listening tool, along with Hootsuite, my monitoring tool of choice.

Listening

Upon recommendation from others, I began using Digg, an RSS reader that I really liked and frequently used until very recently. Long story short Digg shut down (who else is still mourning its loss?) and I swiftly went to work looking for another RSS reader which is how I found this article which walked me through how to move my RSS feeds over to a new, very similar platform — Feeder, which I am quickly becoming fond of. For me it serves as a platform to monitor industry and brand keywords in one central location, using my RSS feeds from Google Alerts. With Feeder you can easily create folders to organize and classify your feeds. I was drawn to Feeder because of how easily and seamlessly I was able to integrate and continue using my existing RSS feeds from Digg.

Monitoring

In terms of monitoring tools, Hootsuite is my go-to tool. I have an affinity for Hootsuite simply due to its customizable dashboard, enabling me to be able to closely monitor the elements I wish to monitor. Another draw to Hootsuite is its intuitive layout and compatibility with other platforms. The only beef I do have with Hootsuite however is its less than ideal integration with Instagram. Luckily tools like Later make up for this pitfall which easily allow you to plan and schedule posts.

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Source: GIPHY

News & Updates

Does anyone else have a personal passion for health and nutrition like I do? I just so happen to work within the health and wellness field in a social media capacity, so keeping an eye on health related trends is anything but a chore. For this, I find value in following Canadian based nutritionists, Meghan Telpner and Joy McCarthy’s blogs to gain inspiration and understand what these highly regarded individuals are discussing in regards to health trends, recipes, and popular product and product categories. The content these nutritionists create directly relate to the mindset of my organization’s target audience which is why I find their blogs such valuable resources. To stay organized, I use Feedly as my one-stop-shop to organize all of the health related blogs I find beneficial to follow. Along the same lines, I try to stay on my social media A-game  through the utilization of Social Media Today which features articles and infographics pertaining to everything digital marketing. The best part about this website is that the website’s homepage is organized into a dashboard with tabs at the top of the page relating to specific areas: ‘Social Media Updates’, ‘Trending’, ‘Social Marketing’, ‘Digital Strategy’, ‘Content Marketing’, and ‘Influencers’.

What I’ve learned?

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I’ve always have this desire to keep all of my tools organized in one location — or in this case, website or application. For a long period of time I was continuously searching for that one resource that would help me achieve this. With this in mind, I think the greatest challenge has been to understand and realize that with the multiple different processes one must engage in when working within the social media realm — from monitoring, to listening, to observing industry trends — that while some tools will come close to being able to fully encompass all of the needed functions, multiple tools are not only necessary, but advantageous.

COM0015 – Blog #1 Tools & Sources

I seem to be behind the times when it comes to using social media listening tools. I have never used an RSS feed or thought to use Google Alerts. If something doesn’t make obvious sense to me, I tend to shy away from it instead of trying to figure it out. Unfortunately, I have always thought of these tools as being complicated. Thankfully, after learning a little bit more about RSS feeds and other trend listening tools, I am no longer intimated by them and will try them out. This will help save time and garner faster results.

In my industry, we do a lot of work with major corporations and I have found the two trend listening tools that I use is Google News and Twitter. I like Google News because of the search capabilities. I can look for a specific corporation within a certain time frame and I can find many different articles quickly to gather information on them. We then turn around and use that information to help sell ourselves to them in hopes to get their business. I also use Twitter for mainstream news. Twitter is a great tool as you can search using hashtags to find topics you’re interested in. It’s also great because of the way it uses short headlines to grab your attention. If you’re not interested in a particular tweet, it takes no time at all to just scan over it and move on.

In my personal life, I use BuzzFeed and Facebook, as well as Twitter, as my main sources of news. I find these social media platforms give you a wide variety of information on many diverse topics. I believe it is very important to be in the know when it comes to current events. It allows us to have intelligent conversations with our peers, and also to make informed decisions in our everyday lives.

In my job, being up to date with what is happening in the world is very important. It’s not always obvious to us when a corporation has an issue that we believe we can help them with. More often than not we have to go looking for issues that they didn’t even know they had. Being able to get out in front of a problem is key and having the right social media tools to do that has proven helpful.

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.

My Tools for Social Media Monitoring

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Sourced on Pixabay 

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The social media trend monitoring tools that I use are Google Alerts, my Twitter feed, LinkedIn, Vimeo, and Youtube.

I do advanced searches on Keyword Planner on Google Adwords with an eye to keywords on topics I want to follow.   From there I create Google alerts (although some are saying Mention is better, and Alerts might disappear), and content feeds in my TweetDeck.  I spend time on LinkedIn and use Groups and Interests to monitor influencers and join groups that can provide me with interesting information on trends.  It’s a bit of a feedback loop as I find that they all feed into, and amplify one another—subject matter can influence who I follow and who I follow can lead to a deeper dive into subject matter.   I also use keywords, and other search methods, to subscribe to relevant channels that interest me on YouTube and Vimeo.

I am a freelance digital content provider specializing in video production, and I am usually working to monitor trends in two main streams.  I follow subject matter and influencers relevant to my clients, and I follow specific marketing content niches, like branded content and video marketing in branded content.

In terms of news sources and updates, I don’t know if I can isolate that from the trend monitoring tools.  I do use Flipboard and follow topics and people there.  Why Flipboard?  I like it is ease of layout and user interface.  I would say it’s a bit of a proverbial feedback loop between listening tools and news and updates.   Am I missing something?  Does anybody else have some ideas on that one?  I haven’t really made a lot of use of RSS streams and I think I might be missing out there.

Why these tools and not others?   Well I think part of it is that over time I have found there’s a simplicity to my method that works well for me.   I need to be a generalist and a niche specialist when it comes to information so the broad search and then the drill down is effective.

I haven’t found much use for Facebook, but I am not sure that is because it isn’t useful, or I just haven’t put energy into figuring out how it might be.  I use Facebook on a personal level, but not so much on a professional level.  Again I welcome thoughts.

I also have found that to date I can make my world overly complex with monitoring, and when I have it hasn’t served me well.  I prefer to niche, niche, and niche some more.   The other way leads to information overload and diffuses the desired results.

There are some monitoring tools that I tend to use more as delivery tools like Bit.ly and I want to get going with Buffer to program my Twitter activity.

I think there is probably a lot more strategy and intelligence I could do with paid tools.  I would be keen to mine more insights with options available from companies like Radian6, but I would perhaps be more likely to run into it through a client using it.

 

COM0015 – Blog # 1: Social Media Listening Tools and News Sources

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In social media, listening is the essential process of understanding your customers. Who are they? Where do they gather? What are they saying? Why are they saying it and how are they saying it?  People are talking and as a brand you need to know what is being said so that you can understand how to build a trusting relationship and engage with your customers appropriately.

Two Social Media Listening Tools

Talkwalker Alerts

Talkwalker Alerts is a favourite because it is a free and easy social media monitoring tool that provides email updates of the latest and most relevant mentions  as they happen.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a great tool for managing multiple social channels and applications by allowing an individual or teams to measure marketing analytics, insights and campaign results. It also allows users to efficiently monitor conversations, track social mentions, and social influence.

Two Sources of News and Updates

For me, one of the best sources for real-time and up-to-date news is Twitter. Whether it’s current events or industry news you wish to follow, the information on Twitter is instantaneous.

Another go to source of mine for news and updates is Facebook. I regularly read relevant posts and stories that appear in my feed.

What are some of your essential social monitoring tools and sources of news?