Listen to what’s being said online (2009)

Here are a few tools to use on your unit websites that can help keep your ‘ear to the ground’ when it comes to monitoring what is being said about your commander, your unit, or any other number of topics. It is very important to monitor what is being said, just ask Dominos Pizza. (If you don’t know of the recent Domino’s crisis, here’s a post from August).

Yes, there are a lot more people out there talking and passing information between various web sites and social networks, but there are also a lot of tools to help weed through the chatter and find what is important to you. So here are just a few:

Google Analytics. Highly recommended and it gives you all kinds of data for free. All it takes is placing a bit of code onto your websites home page, and it does the rest. For, I have been looking at our posts, where the Soldier that is posting them is from, and then watch a big spike in hits from his or her hometown. The Soldier is presumably telling friends and/or family back home that they are online, and everyone there is taking a look. We are also gaining new readers as I can see those people sometimes continue to watch the site. Lets you track visitors by geographic location, how often, how long, and a whole host of other information. Great to send to your leadership as well so they can see in numbers what you are achieving.

Google Alerts. Easy to set up and easy to use. You provide a term such as ‘ironbde’ which is what I use in all our products for the ‘Iron Brigade’, select the ‘type’ which I always set as ‘comprehensive’, set ‘how often’ which I usually set to ‘as-it-happens’, and input an email address for the alerts to be sent to. I normally use common phrases that might be utilized and use a variety of variations when it comes to ranks and names. For example, I would use ‘Maj Mike Nicholson’, ‘Major Mike Nicholson’, ‘Mike Nicholson’, etc. Depending on how common the persons name is, you may want to delete some variations if your email is getting filled with all kinds of alerts not related to your topic.

Social Mention. A real-time social media search engine that looks at blogs, microblogs, networks, bookmarks, comments, events, images, news, video, audio, and questions. Put in your search term and let it do the rest. You can also set up alerts and even put a widget on your site that tracks comments in real-time related to your search term.

Feedburner. As long as you have registered your sites RSS feed, you can get statistics on your feed’s subscribers.

Trendrr. Service that lets you track trends in social media. There is a free version that lets you track up to 10 trends, and then some other versions that require you to pay.

Blogpulse. From the folks at Nielsen, lets you search terms and provides data on current trends and topics in the blogosphere.

The main ones I use are Google analytics, alerts and social mention. You need a Gmail account to sign up, so it is necessary to create a ‘unit’ Gmail account if you are looking to use it for a unit webpage. This also allows you to pass the account easily onto the next person and in the event you don’t have a generic email account for your office that stays the same regardless of who is in the office (, the Gmail account can fill that void.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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