Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Social Media Research Tips for Human Resources

Using Google Alerts as a Research Tool

Over at ProBlogger, Darren Rowse recently posted on how bloggers can utilize Google alerts as a tool to monitor what is happening in their blog niche. This is a technique that would apply not only to blogging, but to any professional field, including human resources.

Here are some of the key points from the posting that I think could be easily adopted and utilized on a regular basis by human resources professionals. I utilize many of them myself every day

Monitoring the HR Niche

Like Rowse, I spend a good amount of time monitoring, reading and listening to what other HR people or business people are talking about or writing about on blogs, journals, news media or social media accounts.

Rowse does this for several reasons. These include: (source: Darren Rowse, ProBlogger: Set Up ‘Alerts’ to Monitor What is Happening in Your Niche)

1. Tracking Ideas - Keeping abreast of what others are writing about gives you an almost unlimited supply of ideas and helps you to keep up with what is buzzing in your niche at any given point of time.

2. Awareness of Breaking News - this is more relevant for some niches than others but sometimes knowing when a story is breaking in your industry can be very important. Being unaware of such stories can make your blog look out of touch to readers wanting to know the latest.

3. Profile Building and Perceived Expertise - those who are obviously aware of what else is happening in their niche are often seen as experts and authorities in their industry. I know of a number of bloggers and twitter users who’ve built profiles for themselves simply by having their finger on the pulse of their niche and linking to interesting and useful content on other sites.

4. Networking - using some of the ‘alert’ tools below enables you to know who is talking about issues relevant to your niche within a short time of them doing so. This enables you to make connections and build relationships with these people.

5. Reputation Management - knowing quickly when others are talking about you, your company, your brands and your blog is valuable information as it enables you to not only build relationships with those who are saying positive things about you but also manage negative talk.

There are other reasons to be aware of what people are saying in your niche - but lets move on to some of the ‘how to do it’.

Today your task is to set up a variety of ‘alerts’ or ‘watch lists’ for your niche.

There are many services around to help you keep track of what people are writing. I’d love you to suggest those that you use in comments below - but here are a handful that I regularly use:

Google News and Blog Alerts - Google’s alerts will show you any mention of keywords in only ‘news’ sources (for example newspapers), on blogs, in videos, on the ‘web’ or even in their ‘groups’. You can choose to be alerted about different categories or for them all.

It gives you the opportunity to get alerts via an email or RSS feed at different intervals.

  • Technorati Watchlists - Very similar to Google Alerts as it’ll feed you mentions of certain words on blogs.

  • Twitter Alerts - there are a lot of tools to help you monitor what is being said on Twitter. Some are built into twitter clients (for example TweetDeck has a great one) but others include Monitter (allows live monitoring but also gives you an RSS feed for words), Twendz, Twitter’s Search (you can set up an RSS feed for any keyword) and Twitter Hawk (a paid service that allows you not only to monitor but respond to tweets on keywords).

There are many tools around to do this type of monitoring. The key is to find one or two that fit with your style and to regularly check them.

Lastly - let me outline a few types of alerts to set up. These are the two that I most commonly set up:
1. Industry Words - these are words relevant to your blog’s niche. For example if you blog about the wedding industry you might like to monitor words like ‘wedding dress’. If you blog about Britney Spears - you’ll want to be watching for any use of her name. The key is to find keywords that highlight when stories are breaking about your industry but ones that don’t overwhelm you with results.
2. Vanity Alerts - these are keywords that are specifically relevant to you. They include your personal name, your blog’s name, company name, brand names and even URLs

Tip from MVD: Utilize Google Reader or Feedly or some other RSS feed reader to aggregate your alerts from Google. It makes them much easier to monitor and track! (see my Google Reader feed here)


  1. Thanks for owning this social media topic for the people people! I am 3 weeks into sm and even with a technology background, I am slammed with the task of getting my head around it. Certainly realizing the potholes I have stepped in already but with your help will avoid some now. Thanks too for the top 20 on Twitter. Am following them and you and reconnected with some people.

  2. Glad you found the material presented to be useful. Good luck with the blog. I like the name. I'd be happy to chat if you ever need any help!

    -- Michael


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