April 10, 2013

After Google Alerts: Shall we go for a Professional or Free Monitoring Tool?


After the announcement of the closing of Google Reader, some online rumors show Google Alerts as the next project to be closed by the Search Engine Company.


In the Communication environment, Google Alerts is widely used so, what would we do if this tool disappears? We will have a bunch of options, that’s sure, but before we take a decision about a new tool, in this uncertain scenario we can take the time to wonder which are the real needs we have regarding monitoring. Do we need just a free monitoring service or we must go for a professional monitoring tool?

Don’t get us wrong, we do not want to talk badly about the free monitoring tools, which fulfils the news of a large number of users (for example, Kim Kardashian is happy with this type of service :) ) . The aim is to help you identify the real needs in terms of your brand and market monitoring.

What subjects do we want to monitor?

For example, if we want to follow our brand mentions, and it does not use day-to-day words (Example of brands which have day-to-day words: Orange, Sky, New Look, etc) and we are not facing a large amount of mentions, a free monitoring service can be enough and very useful. However, if you want to keep track of your competition, or the main topics of your sector, you might find yourself with a big amount of information which is not easy to digest. In this case, a Professional Monitoring Solution is the best choice: we can follow-up exact-matching expressions (sensitive to capital letters, for example), test with similar words, exclude certain expressions, and also filter by geographic, topic, media type,… Thus, these different filters allow you define a very precise monitoring systems that match exactly your requirements and reduce the “noise” in your results.

Which channels do you want to monitor your keywords in?

Most free tools are specialists on a particular media type (Example: Google Alerts on Google News and Blogs, Hootsuite on Twitter,…). If you want to monitor the same keywords on different channels at once (media, blogs, social networks), the best way to do it is by using several tools to obtain relevant results in each channel. That also means diverse sources of information which result on a high risk of fragmented information and duplicated publications in all the sources. That makes the consolidation of your monitoring a complex task.

How deep is the analysis you want to make?

Analysis is the goal of a monitoring process. When following several expressions, it’s handy to have a dashboard that summarizes the results of your monitoring which gives you a quick and easy view of your activity (the beginning of a news viralization, etc…). In goal-oriented companies where the data is a basic source for taking decisions, it’s smart to have a quick generation of different types or reports (your own reputation, competitors, ROI of your communication efforts, etc)

How do you want to share your results?

When having a small number of your monitoring results, it’s easy to share the publications and articles about your brand to your stakeholders. On the other hand, if your monitoring results are composed of a large number of items, compiling them and manually send them to your clients, colleagues or investors become a tedious job. Professional monitoring solutions offer numerous possibilities regarding this matter: You can easily program automatic newsletters the days and hours it’s more interesting for you. There are also different formats of newsletters, online magazines which can be dynamically shared.

What is the level of quality of service you need?

The rumor about the closing of Google Alerts should make us reflect: free monitoring services may dramatically change their features or simply stop providing their services at any time. If monitoring is a strategic action in your business, you should switch to a professional solution that offers a customer service and constant monitoring. Moreover, professional monitoring solutions evolve according to customer needs.

Free and professional monitoring solutions have their advantages and disadvantages and respond to different needs. That is why you should clearly define our goals and needs of your monitoring strategy before taking the decision.

So, If Google Alerts disappears tomorrow, what would you do?


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