Social media monitoring – ‘what’s it all about, Alfie?’

I have been doing a quick and dirty review of social media monitoring software and thought it worth sharing my conclusions which are more relevant for the public sector:

1) use free tools and; 2) don’t pay software suppliers

I had wanted for a while to see what all the hullabuloo is about online reputation monitoring sofware – particularly as vendors keep harassing me.

So this is what I did – using the same keywords.

1) I got a external supplier to set up a dashboard in iGoogle using free tools

2) asked a colleagues to set up a similar dashboard in Netvibes

3) had a ‘big’ company set up a dashboard in their propriety software

The results were: a score draw for the free tools version; and an own goal for the paid for service.

Overall the actual intelligence delivered was the same – same blogs, same Twitter feeds – the same! So the paid for service did not have some secret sauce finding unexpected results.

Of course you need to bear in mind the pros and cons of each tool.

Free stuff – Its free. But needs a bit of maintenance and can break; difficult to track historical trends – unless you do a bit of special coding (I have seen it done).

Paid for – low maintenance – historical trends and probably smilely or sad faces which allegedly show sentiment. Somewhat expensive and you can only subscribe for a year (why not a month at a time?)

My tips are – use a bit of common sense – ask around see what others have been doing. Test suppliers against each other; compare the results against the free tools. Above all be sceptical.

Of course look at econsultancy (if you are a member its free) as they do an annual review of Social media monitoring software providers – its detailed and value for money. Also have a look at Fresh Mind’s recent – clear and very helpful review of suppliers (thanks to Tommy at Dft for the link). And of course two great blog entries from Neil Williams and Steph Gray (what else do you expect?)





In praise of Teacamp

If you have not been to Teacamp recently you should be asking yourself ‘why not’?

For those who do not know Teacamp is usually on the first Thursday of each month at Cafe Zest within the House of Fraser store in Victoria from approx 4pm onwards.

The format is generally one or two ‘speakers’ who very informally give a short presentation on some relevant project that they have been working on. This is followed by a Q&A and a generaly chit chat and catching up with people. Those attending are often from Government departments, some of the freelancer coders/developers who work with government and others who find out by word of mouth.

The reason why I felt impelled to write this was because last week’s event was typical. I arrived feeling ignorant and left feeling chock full of knowledge and up-to-date on what other colleagues were doing and with various ideas to follow-up. Where else can the price of a cup of coffee (or even tea) provide such inspiration?

A lot of credit goes to the organiser who is often Jane O’Loughlin and the speakers who make the effort to share their experiences.

So what did I learn last week? Well without naming, names:

1) how a major department was planning to avoid replacing its CMS and spending a lot of money in the process by starting to use WordPress

2) an update on how the work done by site and associates is going to be complemented by some crowdsourced work on tagging and metadata

3) I passed my contact details onto a particular organisation I would like to collaborate with digitally

4) a colleague shared some information with me about social media monitoring – and later sent me a very useful piece of research

5) I a spoke to a former colleague and shared some informal research I had done on social media monitoring

6) oh yes and there was a great presentation by @lesteph on his work on taking forward online consultation technology

and lots more

So what is the reason you cannot make #Teacamp?

If you want to join sign up via

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QR codes – do they work, can they work – it looks like it

Based on a conversation with my friend Bill Pope at the Driving Standards Agency @underbundle I have been investigating QR codes. Not like a policeman but a bit more informally.

So it here goes –

If you add a QR code to some content – web or print – and hold a reader over it your web device will jump to the designated content via a custom URL – its very cool.

Its worth reading this article first In the meantime if you have an Iphone or similar search under apps to download a free reader. Open the reader and hold it against the QR code in the wikipedia article and see what happens.

If you want to create your own QR code use this site:

Its also worth reading this useful background blog by Martin Uttley…

And this from Mashable

Worth following on Twitter:



QR codes spotted recently:

  • on an advert for IBM inside the Economist
  • in Jack Wills shops
  • on a poster for the Treeathon run in London in September
  • outside an exhibition in Marseille – sorry a bit of a poseur’s ref 

The sky’s the limit, or your imagination. Wherever you want to link offline and online content this could be the perfect tool.



Jack Wills – a social media examplar

I heard via a Measurement Camp event that the Jack Wills chain of shops were great at social media. As I happened to be near the Jack Wills shop in Convent Garden at the weekend I thought I would pop in. I should warn you though that Jack Wills caters strongly for the youth market so if you do not like being near teenagers or hate ‘in your face’ design do not repeat my rash adventure.

I was seriously impressed by the shop. It is a fabulously laid out store that ruthlessly targets its desired audience – it looks extremely cool, relaxed, fun and interactive.

Social media is everwhere and woven into the fabric of the shop. There are lots of posters hanging from the wall giving their Twitter, Facebook and Flickr addresses. These also include QR codes for scanning with advice on which software to download to do this. Using the Jack Wills digital channels gives access to ‘exclusive’ content and special offers.

They also have a bench with PCs to access their social media channels and other stuff. All in all social media is integral to Jack Wills and it is a taste of the future. The only thing I could see missing is that they did not highlight their presence on Foursquare.






Create, curate, consume