Social Media Monitoring Tools

masha i landtjärnIf you have ever wondered what tools you can use to monitor the wide range of social media sites, then this presentation is right up your alley. Not only does it provide a good, quick snapshot of some of the technologies available, it also shows where and when they are most useful to your efforts. And while you may not find one tool for all purposes, if you at least cover listening, measuring and engaging, then much of your social media monitoring can be linked by some simple manual processes – after all, who needs workflow when you will be responding to mentions yourself?

I particularly like the case study on Kryptonite bicycle locks and how “ten days of internet chatter” not only crippled a company’s reputation, but cost it millions in product exchanges.

Via Denise Tung.

Balls and Bravado

The body in motion is not without pain.

Arms gasping.

  Eyeballs askew

At the end of my sinews

  Blood bleaches like fingernails.

The dead protein of my love for you

  splices thoughts, memories

     Lips in the wind.

And all around me, the loving audience

  bleating my name

Calling, calling

  For the same loss that engulfs

Every whispered word.


The transition into adulthood is fraught with emotion and unbound intensities. It is a time of testing – we pit ourselves against the world, against each other and we emerge scarred, occasionally beautiful and sometimes damaged. But what shape do our scars take and what is their legacy? What of those who do not successfully shed their battle worn skins?

Unfortunately, many young men don’t make the transition in one piece. The complications of life, unexpected responsibilities, depression and anxiety can all play a part – where we increasingly find ourselves isolated, set apart, on the edge.

Felix and BernhardI wrote this poem many years ago. And while it seems as though I am listening to forgotten whispers, the emotional impact still claws my chest. Poetry was an outlet for me. It was a connection with an unimagined audience.

But every poem brought me closer to someone. I would be “caught” writing. I would ask friends for advice on the poems, or ideas on their construction – all the while realising it was a thinly disguised call for help.

These days, young men continue to find themselves in situations which feel insurmountable – resulting in higher than average rates of drug and alcohol dependence. Furthermore, rates of suicide are through the roof and young men are three times more likely to develop schizophrenia than young women.

But thanks to sites like ReachOut, you no longer need to suffer in silence (or resort to poetry). This week, the ManWeek campaign kicks off – and you can tune in to Triple J to listen to the experiences of young men across the country – from the Alpha Male to the Mummy’s Boy and everywhere in-between, ManWeek will show that your story is just as valid – and just as common – as other young men who are trying to find ways of dealing with life.

Let’s face it, it doesn’t just take balls and bravado to be a man these days. Sometimes it means coming to grips with your family, acknowledging that your Dad isn’t a rolling stone, and that dysfunction can be just as beautiful as any other way of life. The important part is to begin reaching out – communicating and sharing how you feel. It’s not easy. But it’s not as hard as you might think (and you can always leave a comment here). You can also share your experiences at the ReachOut blog or on the forum (yeah you need to register).

If you happen to be awake early, you can tune in for the Triple J Breakfast show; and if you have a Twitter account you can join in with the hash tag #manweek. Talk to me, I am @servantofchaos.

Tagging update: Every man must have a story – but what is yours? I am particularly interested in hearing the tales of Zac Martin, Craig Wilson and Frank Sting.

Social Media is Not Sexy

Be afraid!While Web 2.0 and social media tools provide great opportunities for businesses from a branding and marketing point of view, there are also a raft of other opportunities which are easily overlooked. The very same benefits that can be achieved through your social media efforts can also be applied across your enterprise – from employees to partners, vendors and even shareholders. Sounds great, right?

But let me tell you a little secret. This sort of social media (and almost every aspect of social media) is just not sexy. It doesn’t have the glitz and glamour or even the spotlights of advertising; and there’s not the breathtaking scale of large format outdoor advertising. But if you can get past this, you will find that your social media efforts really will transform your business.

But where do you start?

I always start with people and with their behaviour. What sort of relationship does you business have with them? The thing about Web 2.0 or social media is that it is participatory – and many, if not most, businesses and brands base their stakeholder relationships around transactions. In fact, we have built our entire businesses around this – just look at the success of that once new-fangled concept of “ebusiness” or “ecommerce” – and now think about whether you would ever open a bank account that didn’t have an online banking option. Even my mother uses online banking. To me, that makes it ubiquitous. It makes it mainstream.

From a business perspective, the transactional relationship works. You know what you want out of the relationship (ie money) and it is easy to measure (volume). But to enable a transactional relationship with a large audience requires technology – and with that comes complexity, long timeframes for implementation and a whole lot of work on your internal business processes. And because of the scale, complexity and cost, it comes from the top down – it is driven by your business executives.

Web 2.0, on the other hand, is simple to implement. Sometimes you can get extensive functionality for little or no up-front cost – you can use open source software, free or cheap web hosting or you can choose a hosted (software as a service) model. Once you decide to go down this path, you can implement your ideas very quickly. Within minutes you can have a blog setup and working, a wiki ready for team collaboration and Google Analytics ready to measure your traffic, goals and conversion rates. And did I mention that ANYONE can make this happen. All you need is a web connection. From the CEO right down the new intern, anyone in your business has access to the tools that can transform the relationships that you have with your stakeholders. That’s right – it is bottom-up transformation.ThreeLeversSMsuccess

But there is a problem. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. And just because it’s available, doesn’t mean it will be ADOPTED. The challenge for brands and businesses who want to shift the needle on their business relationships is to move from transaction to participation – to create an engagement layer that bridges the transactional parts of the business with the newly emergent participatory elements.

Those clever folks over at McKinsey’s have published Six Ways to Make Web 2.0 Work (registration is free) which points out some of the challenges (and approaches) which can can use. But for my money, it is that middle layer of Engagement that builds success. It is the messy, unsexy aspect of business (and marketing):

  • Communications: Keeping your stakeholders up-to-date with improvements, road blocks, outcomes and risks is an essential element. This can also flow over to other aspects of marketing/advertising.
  • Change management: There is always a pre-existing way of “getting things done”. Helping people adopt new behaviours and new technologies means managing and measuring that change.
  • Framework establishment: Many of your stakeholders will have had some exposure to Web 2.0 tools in their personal lives. You will need to provide frameworks which provide the context within which they can most effectively use them at work.
  • Informal leadership: Nothing says “move ahead” like the CEO and leadership team informally adopting the Web 2.0 tools.

But while this is unsexy – with the right strategy, it actually delivers on the promise of Web 2.0. And that is good news for businesses and for brands. Hands up for some unsexy marketing?

Dear Rob, This is For You

Jekkie the LOLcatI am usually pretty conscious about internet security. But sometimes my brother will drop around. Or a friend. And they will need to check their email. So rather than going through the rigmarole of setting up new MAC addresses etc, I often just throw open the wireless port on my router. Of course, this means that anyone can access my internet connection …

So one day a few weeks after my brother visits, I can see that there is a light on my modem flashing. I was drawn to it in a strange way. I think it was because it wasn’t just flashing in a lazy, surfing the web kind of way. It was throbbing.

I knew that my computers were switched off so I immediately thought this was strange – and then somewhere deep inside my brain, a small voice said “open wireless, you idiot”. A minute or two later and sure enough – a list of the DHCP clients on my network showed “Rob” logged on.

Now, I don’t know about you, but the idea of having someone sucking up my bandwidth (at an obviously alarming rate) is annoying. And beyond that, it’s rude. So if you are like me, and you feel that a small amount of retribution is required, then take a look at this excellent how-to guide. It explains, easily, how to setup your router so that the undesirables end up with an undesirable result. And believe you me, it wasn’t “all kittens” that “Rob” was seeing. And I daresay he spent some time “explaining” his web surfing habits to his wife.

Nothing New Under the Sun

OldTimeTwitter-messages When a new innovation appears, we often “ooh” and “gasp” and wonder how soon we can bring it into our lives. But often, what we take for innovation is simply a recycling of an idea within a new context. When Derek Jenkins linked to the image above, it made me wonder how many contextual innovations like this we could find from the past.

Of course, what any innovation is attempting to do, is solve a problem – and any solution is going to be bound by the limits of available (or scalable)technology and the willingness of the society to absorb and adopt the innovation.

As a child I expected the 2000s to be a time of robot housekeepers and flying cars. But I have a feeling that such expectations are to do with linear thinking – identify problem, extrapolate issue, propose solution. For me, the most interesting aspect of innovation is the discontinuous type – where a product or idea seems to come “out of the blue”. But when I really think about it, I find it hard to find a real example that cannot be linked to something else – some thinking, a predecessor or some contextual innovation.

Maybe there really is nothing new under the sun.

Alphabet Stories – A Fundraiser

There is no doubt that micro-finance can change your life. Sites like Kiva have provided many of us with the opportunity to invest in a specific entrepreneur’s efforts to lift themselves out of poverty. To me it feels like an antidote to the facelessness of aid and provides me with a real sense of being able to DO something – even if the scale is small.

But for some people, this small scale investing is not enough. Jasmin Tragas, for example, wants to setup her own micro-finance program with Opportunity International. Her goal is to raise $10,000 to set the program running – and to provide women in the Philippines with opportunities they would otherwise not have.

You can help Jasmin help others by chipping in here – and you can learn more about how micro-finance and social networks are coming together to make this project a reality.

The Zen Master and the Un-Agency

Every day is a good day.If you work on the client side of marketing you will know that working with agencies can be a challenge. You will have a roster of agencies that you deal with – and many more knocking on the door offering one-off campaigns that just may shake things up (for better and worse). Perhaps you will have an agency of record who will handle the jumble of specialisations that are required to deliver results across a broad swathe of marketing activities. Or maybe you will handle this in-house with marketing, PR, communications, branding and strategy teams all being supported by their own coterie of agencies.

No matter which scenario you operate under, the problem, of course, is that our “audiences” – the customers who buy and sometimes love our products and services – are less inclined to engage with what we have to say. As Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising survey indicated, 78% of consumers are more likely to trust other consumers recommendations ahead of newspapers, magazines and websites. Furthermore, consumers are dividing their attentive time in ever smaller slivers – with the Pew Research Center indicating that we are becoming “news grazers”, spending far greater time getting news and information from online sources than TV.

What are we to do?

Sean Moffitt suggests that client-side marketers need to begin operating like a Zen Master, pulling together your own un-Agency. (Check his description of the different types of agencies for an amusing but also insightful look at this complicated world.) But what might this un-Agency look like?

It's a co-op of equal partners managed by a key client person – a zen master generalist who can pull the appropriate agency levers. The Un-Agency is a marriage of partners that play well together and stay out of each others shorts. It's a hothouse of many ideas that get dreamed up and actually executed. It's a spider web of leading marketing services specialist talent that embeds itself deeply in a company's operations. It is low on bureaucracy and "handlers" and high on "smarts" and "action". Less powerpoint, more insight. More collaboration, less arrogance. More customer/influencer outreach, less boardroom navel gazing. More sustaining value, less flavour of the day. Perhaps paradoxically, more brilliant agency partners not less generic ones.


While I love the IDEA of this un-Agency, it is exceptionally difficult to make this work in practice. All businesses are designed to make money – and agencies are no exception. Put two or three agencies side-by-side and there will be competing interests, egos and revenue targets. But there is no doubt that this type of thing is starting to happen. With agencies coping with the global financial crisis (and the corresponding drop in billings) by laying people off, more and more folks with substantial skills and deep experience are finding themselves in demand. And the smart client-side marketer can now more easily weave together a collaborative group of experienced practitioners without the need (or expense) of working with big agencies. There is even evidence that smaller agencies are employing the same approach to extend their capacity.

Is this the way of the future? I know it works for me.

Fresh Air Fund’s Dollar-for-Dollar Campaign

I have written in the past about the Fresh Air Fund – the charity which gives kids from inner-city New York the opportunity to experience a summer camp in a small community far away from the pressures that cities can place on even the youngest of its inhabitants. Well, it is coming close to summer holiday time in the US, and the Fund are still looking for host families. It is a chance to open your door and your heart to boys and girls, six to 12 years old, who reside in low-income communities in New York City.

The Fund have a long history of helping to change kids lives:

In 1877, the Reverend Willard Parsons, minister of a small rural parish in Sherman, Pennsylvania, asked members of his congregation to provide country vacations as volunteer host families for children from New York City tenements. This was the beginning of The Fresh Air Fund tradition. By 1884, Reverend Parsons was writing about The Fund for New York’s Herald Tribune, and the number of children served grew. In 2008, close to 10,000 New York City children experienced the joys of summertime in Friendly Towns and at five Fund camps in upstate New York.

Currently, thanks to some generous sponsors, every dollar that is donated to the Fresh Air Fund will be matched dollar-for-dollar. So if you don’t have the space to host a child, perhaps you could double the benefit of a small donation. This is only available until June 30.

Who Gives a Hoot About Twitter?

One of the challenges of marketing and branding in the online space is that change is a constant – just when you feel like you are coming to grips with the plethora of tools, platforms and approaches, along comes something new that may (or may not) provide you with yet another way to reach, entertain, engage and delight your customers. Or it could just be a waste of time.

The challenge is knowing where to invest your time and effort … and this is where Twitter comes in handy for me. My network of friends, acquaintances and followers helps me filter the large volume of knowledge that is available online. Explaining this to someone new to Twitter is difficult for a number of reasons:

  • Neighbourhoods are hard to find: When you are new it is hard to find people that you are interested in – and the conversations appear closed or the etiquette unclear
  • Scaling is difficult: Once you find some people with whom you find an affinity, it can be overwhelming to consider engaging with ever larger numbers of people
  • Sweating the details: New participants are turned off by the minutiae of some interactions. It is easy to become annoyed or frustrated at the “over sharing” that takes place online.
  • The only rule: There is only one rule on Twitter and that is – if you don’t like what you hear, un-follow.

As I have explained previously, there are three stages to Twitter commitment, and those who don’t make the effort to FIND value in their newly forming networks will often ask “who gives a hoot about Twitter?”. But for brands (and individuals) there are some significant opportunities.


In his talk to the National Library of Congress, Professor Michael Wesch described the four elements of social media as user generated content, distribution, commentary and filtering. However, I feel that it is “context” rather than commentary that is important in understanding social media. After all, value is created when we each create a lens through which the people in our networks can more readily make sense of the torrent of information, knowledge and emergent behaviour displayed online.

It is the VALUE exchange which is important – and Twitter plays a role in each of the four elements of social media. It can be used to create content, to filter and distribute it, and via hash tags and groupings, it can create context. Those who have more deeply engaged with Twitter find value in each of these areas … and appear to do so intuitively.

But how does this play out statistically? How should this fit within a continuous digital strategy?

Here are some graphs from my own usage of Twitter. I started using Hootsuite to track the click throughs from my Twitter messages (tweets) in February 2009 and in three months I had generated 15,581 click throughs. This is 15,000 site visits that would never have happened had I NOT tweeted.


Interestingly, only one of the top 10 destination sites was my own – so clearly those in my network are more interested in what I say about others than what I say about myself. And, of course, there are many re-tweets in amongst these figures (where others re-post your message) – meaning that the original message is spread further (or virally) into weakly-linked, adjacent networks.


Is this important for individuals and brands? I believe so. The ease with which Twitter can be used across the four elements of social media, and its capacity to AMPLIFY your other social media efforts and activities, makes it (at this moment) a uniquely useful part of your marketing mix. You just have to make the effort to create value before you think you can extract it – and if you are smart you will find they are one and the same thing.