I thought I’d share some simple, manual ways to get started with Social Media monitoring for those who haven’t yet taken the leap. Below are 5 ways of sticking your feet in the pond before you make a decision about a longer-term, less manual solution like  Radian6, Trucast or Buzzlogic.

Volume of mentions

1. Use a combination of Pipes,, and Technorati to find your coverage.

2. Tally the quantity of you vs. your competitors.

3. Weight each mention (1-3), depending on the source, with 1 being a small blog and 3 a large popular site.

4. Graph both volume and weighted volume side-by-side for an easy comparison.

Impact of mentions

On a day-by-day basis, how did the volume (both total and weighted) impact lead generation? We’ve learned that some sources produce much better results than others.

For example, we compared a huge Digg spike versus a big product launch, and the social media buzz surrounding both had very different impacts on our download rates.

By identifying which boosts in social media spikes resulted in better returns, we can focus on getting the buzz in the right places – and at the right times.

Tone of mentions

Tone is a tricky thing. I’ve recently learned that the dirty secret of monitoring software is that they use a Nielson-like “human API” where people (not software) score content for sentiment.

For basic purposes, this is something you should be able to do yourself. By scanning the content, you should be able to get a ratio of good vs. bad vs. neutral responses.

You’ll also be able to quickly identify any fires that need to be put out or potentially some brand enthusiasts that can be networked.

Subject matter of mentions

This should be divided into two buckets: product and theme.

For product, what product is the buzz in relation to?  For Jive, it would be Clearspace vs Clearspace Community. We want to understand which facets of our suite is generating the buzz.

On the theme side, we want to figure out why people are talking about us. Is it:

  • Company news?
  • Product launches?
  • Enterprise software?
  • Local focus?
  • What’s the spin that catches?


There are three categories of influencers to identify and track:

  1. Supporters – identify who can help you.
  2. Competitors – learn from examples and see what they are up to.
  3. Bloggers who mention your space, but are not familiar with you.

Resist the temptation to hit any of these influencers with communication. Remember, this is monitoring. Getting smart about the etiquette, protocols and best way to built relationships is an important lesson so watch and listen before you jump into the pool.

Other ideas?

For all you jedi monitoring experts out there, are there some other free, “getting started” suggestions you’d add to my short list?

Lotso Credit

Big thanks to Paul Biggs for his help with this post. If you’re not familiar with Paul, check out his blog. He’s the man.

  • Nathan Gilliatt

    As an intermediate step on the path from free to expensive, you might try some of the free versions or free trials of commercial tools:

    The human vs. computer analysis question, especially with regard to sentiment analysis, is a great starting point for a debate that never gets anywhere. 😉 It’s not black and white, though; I’ve found varying ratios of human and automated contribution:

    The last point I’d make is that there are a lot of options in between free and the high-end services that get all the attention. If your needs start to outgrow the free tools but you can’t afford the big guys, don’t assume you’re out of luck. Commercial tools for monitoring and measuring social media range start at about $10/month and go up (up up) from there.

  • Michael Buckbee

    You might want to check out Watchlister – – If you’re on a Mac you can get a free account by signing up now and get quite a ways down the road to quickly automating steps 1 to 3 in your Volume of Mentions category.

    We don’t yet have a weighted vs. non-weighted graph, but I’ll put it in the development queue.

  • Oliver Marks

    This is useful Sam, Thanks!!

  • David Alston

    Great post Sam. The goal for every brand owner – find a way to get started. Listening happens for every other channel (phones, emails, retail etc..) so consumer generated online conversations are the natural next step.

    Start with general listening and perhaps evolve to “target listening”.

    Cheers. David

    And thanks for the Radian6 mention as well. Always appreciated.

  • James Hipkin

    Very cool Sam. It’s nice to see your inner direct marketer come to the surface :-)

  • Paul Biggs

    Thanks for the hat-tip Sam!

    You’re right, the hardest thing to measure is the more subjective side of the social media sphere: tone. Computers don’t really get irony, embellishment, or smiley faces. I know the big machines like Nielsen use some pretty heavy algorithms to try and weed that out, but you have to add human touch.

    Where this stuff gets really interesting in my book is when it gets predictive. Having some — ACTIONABLE — barometers to know where the conversation is headed, not just where it’s already happened. I have some pretty wild ideas for PPC and content networks, among other channels (as do some of the vendors who have me under NDA!).

  • Lyn Mettler

    This is a great post. I monitor mentions for my clients, but have never given much thought to not just measuring them quantitatively, but qualitatively, as well. Great tips to start that direction.

  • Yura

    You can also use Google Alerts to track mentions. I like how I can get emails once per week on certain phrases.

  • Kristin Davis

    Awesome post. Especially love the art — really well done.

  • Paula Thornton

    All the well-deserved Kudos acknowledged, I’m far more impressed by the ‘making the industry better as a whole’ that this represents. Clearly an artifact of ‘abundance’ thinking rather than ‘scarcity’ thinking. That reflects well on the company (transference).

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  • Martyna Tarnawska

    I wanna just add an information about the new analytical tool, not free, but cheaper than other one (pricing starts with less than $50), called Brand24 ( It has excellent social media monitoring and analytic capabilities. Would love to show you Brand24 sometime :)