gathering the conversation

One of the first steps in a PR program’s entry in the world of social media is often monitoring. I found this to be true in much of my research, & well it just makes sense.

So we set up Google alerts, use blog search engines & keep a watchful eye on TweetScan.

Prof. Robert French from Auburn shared an invite with me so I could check out a new service called StartPR. The online service boasts the ability to easily compile all these searches into a single place to streamline social media monitoring. You guessed it – it’s a clip service for the social Web.

I tried it out using a few terms that were niche enough that wouldn’t provide an overload, but big enough to return some hits.

I was very impressed with:

  • ease of setting up the search terms
  • quickness of returning items
  • ability to mark items as read or keep them as unread
  • visual display of items — layout, easy to see the date an item was posted & blog source, listing of the search engine through which it was found
  • ability to add others in your office to the account so you can all see what is happening (big picture & response)
  • ability to assign others particular items for action (tasking)
  • place to paste in comments internally (called “notes”)
  • built-in response management program to track whether you/your PR folks replied/commented on the post

That last item is really the coolest part — but heck, you might already have a bigger internal system integrated with other media efforts set up for that.

What I didn’t like:

  • most of the returns were items that had been caught via Google alerts
  • heavy reliance on Google as a source (only other source in my searches was Technorati)
  • had to scroll really far down (using Firefox on a Mac) when in the notes section & didn’t immediately see all the options
  • ignored non-text social media: nothing from YouTube, Flickr, audio or video etc returned
  • ignored social networks: nothing from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc returned

Areas for improvement (i.e., my “wouldn’t it be cool if” list):

  • include number of comments (live feed) made on each item returned
  • ability to sort items by date, blog, number of comments, those you’ve replied to, etc
  • more personalized fields/options in the “notes” area
  • integration of metrics (other than frequency of post per day report) into the system
  • expand service to cover non-text multimedia (video, audio, images)

All in all, it looks like a neat little tool … but I wouldn’t pay for it (since good old fashion alerts & searches can get you the same information + more) unless they up’ed the ante to add more sophisticated monitoring features.

Note: I was given a free trial of this service from a friend. It was my idea to write the review (no one asked me to). Finally, I have 5 invites available for a free trial of this site up for grabs if you are interested. First come, first served & be sure to give me your e-mail address.

10 Responses so far.

  1. Hi Kaye,

    Thank you so much for trying out StartPR, and we’re more than pleased that Prof. Robert French had heard of us.

    As you can imagine, we have been tracking keywords and using Google Alerts for quite a while now, in addition to searching through Technorati, Twitter Search and other engines for what’s important to us. StartPR grew out of the desire to have a permanent workspace where such searches could be stored and exported. We also wanted a workspace where we could manage the results and delegate activity to our colleagues as required. Finally, we wanted a way to report on our blogger relations activity to our clients (or bosses).

    We just launched this week, so we’re working on many of the areas you’ve mentioned, particularly on adding more search engines and social networks. We’ll also be improving other features in time and your feedback is very helpful in helping us prioritize our development. We like your “wouldn’t it be cool if …” list!

    Thanks again for giving us a test drive, and please let us know if you have further suggestions!


  2. […] PR and social media Professor Robert French of Auburn University. In her thoughtful post, “Gathering the conversation,” Kaye shares her likes, her dislikes, and what she calls a “wouldn’t it be […]

  3. kaye says:

    Thanks for stopping by Alex.

    All in all, I definitely do like the service but with the addition of some of the features on the wish list it would be a killer app that I couldn’t help but teach to my students at UGA.

    I look forward to seeing where you guys grow in this regard!

  4. Karen Sines says:

    I’d be game for giving it a whirl! Right now we only use Google Alerts. It’d be neat to see what else is going on out there.

    Great post!

  5. Are you teaching Social Media at UGA? I teach it at the U. of Miami School of Communication. Congrats on UGA Connect, I followed that with interest last year and will try to make it this year.

  6. kaye says:

    Karen: I’m out of my free trials … maybe Alex will be so kind as to sent you one??

  7. kaye says:

    Alex: yes, we teach social media in two ways at UGA. 1st for a year we had classes on it to get students up to speed. Now we are just continuing our efforts by integrating social media assignments into the normal classes like PR writing, campaigns etc. Last year at UGA we had Connect in the fall then Edelman Digital Bootcamp in the spring. We hope you will come to Connect next month!

  8. Hi Kaye,

    I’ll do my best to get to UGA Connect, thanks.

    Regarding sending an invite to Karen Sines, I have no way of reaching her. However, if you would be so kind as to forwards the following link, she’ll be able to use it to sign in. In fact, this link is good for many dozen signups, so please feel free to distribute to your contacts, if you wish. Thank you again for your interest:

  9. Michael says:

    You should also check out — it can track keywords / phrases in podcasts, videos, Flickr photos, blog posts, news articles, (new) books, etc. Plus it can find local events matching your keywords. You can track your output (results) on the site or via RSS feeds.

  10. […] you might like to explore is StartPR. For a review of its features, see Kaye Sweetser’s post here. Another monitoring service is Tweetscan, which monitors your search terms on […]

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