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Matt Cutts

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Free Social Media Monitoring Tool - Do It Yourself

How important is to monitor social media?

It is time to go beyond your regular website analytics! Why? Using traditional website analytics you can only measure activities that are happening after the user enters the website. But how can you monitor users’ activity outside the website, I mean the activities and comments that they are publishing across the social media networking websites?

Social media monitoring tools are expensive. But there are plenty available...

There are plenty of social media monitoring tools available but most of them are still in the learning phase and yet to build a comprehensive solution. Moreover their costing won’t work for little start-up companies. But social media monitoring is required for all kinds of business who use online media to promote their services and products, how large or small the business is, doesn’t matter.

A Simple Zero-cost Solution

So what can be a possible zero cost solution? After doing a small research I have come up with a simple plan to easily monitor your users’ activity across all major social media websites.

How social media monitoring tool works?

Before I being the process, I just what to give an introduction on how traditional social media monitoring tool works. The process is pretty simple as the search engine workings. The challenge is to define different indexing and search algorithm for various kinds of social media websites. For example a video streaming website like YouTube has to be indexed very differently when you compare with a discussion forum.

How social media monitoring tool works?
How to build our own social media monitoring tool?

As per the flow-diagram we need three different modules to create our own tool. Let us begin with the first module “INDEX”.

INDEX

Oh wait! No need to worry about buying a server cloud. It is already built for us; we have to just use it. It is nothing but the “Google” INDEX. Google has a massive indexing engine which can index millions of blogs, forums, news and many other websites and segregates it algorithmically.

As our initial step we use Google index to build our indexing module. To start the indexing module we have to define the types of social media websites to be indexed. And here is the list,

- Blogs
- Discussion Forums
- News
- Videos and
- Micro Blogging (Twitter)
- LinkedIn
- Facebook

And here is how we build our indexing engine.

- Use Google Blog search and news search to follow the activity in Blogs and News respectively
- Use Google alerts to follow recent activity in forums, videos, LinkedIn and Facebook
- To follow twitter activity use its own search

It may be vague at this point of time, but once we build our complete system it will be fun using it.

The second module, “SEARCH”

SEARCH

The search module will not only help searching the network it also helps to segregate data collected from various sources in a unique form.

The unique form of data is “RSS Feeds”. Here is how you generate RSS feeds for various kinds of social media websites.

- To generate a RSS for blog index, go to Google blog search and search for the keyword you want to monitor (tip: it can be your brand name, product, services or competitor’s brand) and save the feed URL (I prefer Atom).

Google Blog Search
- To generate a RSS for Forum index, go to Google Alerts and type the keyword you want to monitor and select the options as shown below,

Google Alerts
Create alert and save the feed URL.

- To generate a RSS feed for video follow the same process as you did forum, but select the type of alert from the list accordingly.

- To generate a RSS for News, go to news.google.com and search for the keyword and save the feed URL

- To generate a RSS feed for micro blogging (Twitter), go to twitter.com and search for the keyword you want to monitor and save the feed URL (shown below)

Twitter Search Result with Feed URL
- To generate RSS feed for Facebook and LinkedIn, go to Google Alerts and enter the search term with a prefix “site:facebook.com” and “site:linkedin.com” respectively and save the result as RSS feed

Now we have generated different feed URLs which can search and fetch updated results from the indexing engine.

Next and last module is the “RESULTS” module

RESULTS

Add all the feed URLs to Google reader and rename the subscription for easy identification.

Renamed Feeds in Folders
Now the tool is almost ready to monitor. Give at-least a day to pull results from all RSS feeds.

The following reporting/engagement features are now readily available:

Email – send useful and interesting post
Tag – for search and easy access
Share it with note – an easy-share with your views
Star – mark important or favorite items
Send to – re-tweet or post it to various other social media websites with single click (go to reader setting and enable it under “send to” tab)

Now take a look at the tool’s work-flow, I have tried matching it with the traditional social media monitoring tools,

Free social media monitoring tool flow diagram
Click here to download a step-by-step tutorial.

There are few limitations in this tool when you compare it with an enterprise level monitoring tool. And if you are really looking for one comprehensive tool, try Position2’s Brand Monitor.

Meanwhile, I will analyze and add more stuff to enhance the free social media monitoring tool.

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