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.