July 31, 2012

5 free tools for social media listening

Get grounded before you jump into the fire & start responding

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, Web publishers, educators.

Guest post by Carie Lewis
Humane Society of the United States

Listening is the first step in social media. You have to listen to what others are saying about you before you jump into the fire. Listening will tell you what people are saying, and where they are saying it, so you know where to get started.

Many of these tools are Twitter-focused, because Twitter is the easiest place to get started in listening.

Here are five free tools I recommend to get started.

Tweetbeep: Twitter alerts via email

1Tweetbeep is essentially Google Alerts for Twitter. Whenever you’re mentioned on Twitter, you’ll get sent an email with details of that mention. You  can specify any search term you want. This is great for people who are not ready for the power of Tweetdeck of HootSuite with all their bells and whistles. Twitter is the most real-time account you have of what people are saying about you, so it’s really important to have a Twitter listening tool that matches your comfort level.

Tweetdeck: Your command center

2Tweetdeck is great because it runs in the background and gives you desktop alerts for mentions, similar to Microsoft Outlook when you get a new email. You can customize the different columns and have an array of search terms for people talking about you on Twitter. For example, mine has the following columns: @ replies of my personal Twitter account, @ replies of my organizational account, mentions of “humane society,” mentions of “hsus” and direct messages. When you’re ready to get real serious, ask your IT department for a second monitor that you can put just Tweetdeck on. (See photo at top.)

Kurrently: Check your public persona

3It is amazing, and scary, how many people still do not lock down the privacy on their Facebook profiles. That’s what makes Kurrently so useful: It’s a search engine for public Facebook updates. It actually now pulls in a lot more than Facebook updates, but that’s what I find it most useful for. Continue reading

October 14, 2011

Inside the upgrades to Facebook & Delicious

New Delicious

What you need to know about recent changes to two key social networks

Target audience: Nonprofits, NGOs, cause organizations, businesses, brands, Web publishers, bloggers, educators, social media managers, individuals.

Debra AskanaseThe social media landscape continually evolves, and it’s hard to keep up with all the changes. Platforms and apps I know and love suddenly have new capabilities, add-ons and new wrinkles. In this new feature, “New and Improved on the Social Web,” I’ll be highlighting some of the latest changes to social media platforms, apps and tools, and commenting on their implications. Let’s start by tackling the recent changes to Delicious (social bookmarking) and Facebook.

Delicious stacks

Delicious, the social bookmarking site — acquired not long ago by the founders of YouTube — just rolled out a completely new Web interface as well as a new product, Delicious stacks. The new interface is fun and updated and brings the brand experience in line with today’s Web experience and expectations. While Delicious has always enabled users to bookmark, tag and publicly share bookmarked URLs and tags, users were not able to compile sharable topic areas. The new feature, Stacks, is Delicious’ version of publicly curated content streams. Any Delicious user may create a topic (called a stack) and add links from around the web to create a stack of the topic. Delicious users can follow stacks, share stacks with others and save individual links within others’ stacks.

With the stacks rollout, Delicious is clearly trying to be a player in the content curation trend. If this succeeds, stacks could easily compete with other curation tools such as Google Reader, scoop.it and Pearltrees.


Open commenting allowed on Facebook pages

Facebook announced a lot of upcoming changes at their F8 developer conference in September. Some of those changes are rolling out now, with implications for your organization’s page.

One of the more significant changes to your page is that any Facebook user can comment on your posts and on your wall, without Liking the page first. Just as you had previously managed your settings to allow fans to write or post content to your Facebook wall, the new permission allows “users” to do so. One note: this is a change that you can opt out of – if you allowed fans to post, the new settings automatically allow any Facebook user to post. Continue reading

January 12, 2011

10 paid social media monitoring services for nonprofits

Twitter data galore: A screen grab from ReSearch.ly.


Trackur, Sprout Social, Thrive & other monitoring tools worth paying for

Target audience: Mid-size nonprofits, cause organizations, agencies, brands, NGOs, Web publishers, individuals. This is part of our series on social media monitoring:
Guide to monitoring social media conversations
20 free, awesome social media monitoring tools
How to create & manage a monitoring dashboard

JD LasicaSearch engines and free monitoring tools can help you find mentions of your brand easily, but if you want to take your social media efforts to the next level, you may want to consider using a social media monitoring vendor.

Download flyer: some new ones here

Once your nonprofit or business reaches a certain size — with, say, hundreds of daily mentions — a paid social media monitoring vendor or service can help you smartly assess the conversations taking place about your brand. In many cases, they offer tools for you to respond and forge deeper levels of engagement. A good paid service will offer not just data but ways for you to draw insight and develop strategy by tapping into actionable intelligence.

Paid subscription services for social media monitoring can save staff time and provide insight into influence, authority, sentiment and reach. But remember: For your social media program to work, you’ll need to designate someone on your staff to own this. The person or team should analyze the results, act on time-sensitive issues and make recommendations about how to integrate the learnings from the community into your operation. (Socialbrite can help you get your program up and running.)

Social media vendors come in all shapes and flavors. Some cater to small organizations with modest budgets that want to handle monitoring internally. Others service large nonprofits and corporations that want a robust suite of tools and access to expert analysts. So we’ve broken this package into two parts:

• 10 paid social media monitoring services for nonprofits (below)
Top 20 social media monitoring vendors for business (on our sister site, Sociamedia.biz), which includes Radian6, Lithium and 18 other vendors that work with nonprofits

Please note that we’ve already covered a number of monitoring services in our roundups Top 10 social media dashboard tools and 14 free tools to measure your social influence — including TweetDeck, CoTweet, Seesmic, Spredfast, MediaFunnel, Bit.ly and others  — so think of this as a package of monitoring resources.

Commercial social media monitoring services

Here is our guide to 10 subscription-based social media monitoring services for nonprofits and organizations, with the most affordable ones listed first. Have your own favorites? Please add them in the comments below.



Trackur: Affordable tracking & engagement

1An online reputation management and social media monitoring tool created by reputation expert Andy Beal and team, Trackur is sort of a Google Alerts on steroids. Trackur provides all the monitoring tools you need. It is brandable, will rate the sway power of your influencers for prioritized responses and will deliver results to your inbox, RSS feed or Web-based dashboard. Quickly monitor your reputation, check on trends and analyze media mentions for your company, brands, sector, cause or clients. Cost: Four plans range from $18 to $377/month and vary depending on number of searches and features used. Free 10-day money-back guarantee. Clients: 27,000+ users. Affordability makes it popular among small businesses. Owner: Independent.


Sprout Social: Track & grow your social footprint

2We’ve heard good things about Chicago-based Sprout Social, which lets you target and discover new customers or supporters, monitor your brand across the social Web, organize your social networks and manage up to five identities with the basic plan. The service offers an easy-to-digest summary of what’s happening online around your social presence. Cost: Pro Plan at $9/month is geared to small, independent businesses, nonprofits and organizations. Business Plan at $49/month is tailored to larger companies. Free trial. Clients: Chiefly small businesses, independent service providers such as attorneys and real estate agents, bloggers. Owner: Independent.


uberVU: Affordable for smaller operations

3A social media monitoring tool that combines powerful features (e.g., historical and real-time data, sentiment analysis, platform filtering) and ease of use, uberVU offers a monthly price that should be more attractive to nonprofits and small and mid-size brands. Cost: Four packages:$49.99/month for individuals, $180/month for popular Plus program, $400/month for big companies, contact team for PR agencies. 14-day free trial. Clients: OMD, Edelman, Sharp. Clients generally consist of small businesses and startups, PR & marketing agencies, bloggers. Owner: Independent.

Thrive: Convert fans into donors

4Thrive, from the consultancy Small Act of McLean, Va., is an all-in-one social media tool that lets you listen, publish, report and engage with donors and supporters. Features like contact tagging and sorting, automated keyword searching and automated conversation archiving help you cultivate relationships over time, turning fans into donors. Import your existing email lists and convert them into detailed social profiles so you can jump-start your social media program. Small Act is also launching a service that takes an organization’s donor database to help them build social communities from that data. Cost: Recommended plan for most nonprofits is $1,188/year per user ($99/month per user). Small Act offers a one-month free trial as part of the contract if requested. See the demo, too. Clients: AARP, KaBoom, Global Giving, Ashoka, Office Depot, National Geographic. Owner: Independent. Continue reading

January 10, 2011

Guide to monitoring social media conversations

Image by √oхέƒx™ on Flickr


How & why your organization should be tuning in the social Web

JD LasicaMost brands and nonprofits have received the memo: To succeed in today’s interconnected world, you need to listen to what your supporters and customers are saying about you. With the new year still fresh, you may be finally ready to put into place a listening program to tap into the conversations taking place on the social Web about your organization or sector.

Social media has blown apart yesterday’s top-down communication funnel and replaced it with a peer-to-peer model of empowered citizens and producers. People are tiring of mass media and prefer to listen to their peers’ recommendations about products, services and causes. It’s no longer just about driving people to your website. Today the action revolves around a complex set of social conversations outside of your control — but not outside of your influence. Even the most technically unsophisticated users can now use social tools to spread their messages with unprecedented ease. So what are they saying about you?

In this weeklong series launching today, we’ll cover:

• Why and how to listen (see below)
20 free, awesome social media monitoring tools
10 paid social media monitoring services for nonprofits
How to build & manage a monitoring dashboard

Some people confuse monitoring with metrics. For our purposes, monitoring refers to tracking the conversations people are having about you; metrics refers to measuring the impact you’re having by tabulating such things as visits, tweets, registrations, donations and so on. Monitoring informs the metrics process.

If you’re just starting out, we recommend beginning with a few small ‘listening’ techniques to ‘hear’ what people are saying about you. Set up only a few alerts and track a few feeds – don’t turn on a firehose that you won’t be able to manage. Monitoring can be built into your existing work processes; get started by building a monitoring dashboard (coming Thursday) or by creating a social media dashboard for an integrated approach to manage your participation on the social Web.

Note that although our monitoring guide focuses on nonprofits, the lessons in this series can be applied to any brand. Have your own tips? Please share in the comments!

Why listen: A multitude of brand opportunities

monitoringBefore you dive into a river of conversations, you need to understand what people are saying about you. Learn. Understand. Only then, speak. Share stories. React, inform and engage.

Listening is only one step in the process of engaging with your supporters or customers. Other steps in  your social program might include the following: monitoring; setting business goals; creating and tracking metrics, and incorporating learnings from your listening and metrics efforts into your operation. You’ll want to share your learnings with marketing, sales and your organization’s version of product development or R&D.

There are a multitude of reasons why brands — nonprofits, companies, cause organizations — need to listen to conversations on the social Web. Here they are:

10 reasons to listen to social media conversations

1Assess overall sentiment. In the main, do people know what your organization is about? Do they like your goal but not how you’re going about it? Do they love your platform but don’t connect emotionally to your cause? Take the temperature of the room!

2Target new stakeholders. Can you do a better job getting one of your offerings across to a new audience that’s only loosely connected with your organization? What are their particular interests and motivations? Is there a potential to build a new vertical or niche community around your service or cause?

3Identify your champions. Do you know who your brand’s strongest advocates and evangelists are? How are you rewarding or engaging with them? Particularly with a new brand or campaign, you’ll want to reach out to these leading voices and influencers who can help spread an opinion about a brand faster than your own website can.

4Identify your critics & fend off crises. Your reputation could be jeopardized by criticism — warranted or not, true or not — taking place on the social Web. You need to swoop in and respond in a positive manner, correcting any errors of fact and demonstrating problem-solving abilities, before misperceptions harden into negative sentiment. This is also a critical step in warding off PR disasters. And your critics aren’t always wrong. Adds Liz Strauss: “Listen for the things that you don’t want to hear” and learn from them.

5Audit your efforts. At some point you’ll want to step back and do an assessment of your social media channels. What’s working? What’s not worth the staff’s time? Monitoring tied to metrics will tell you. Continue reading