DIY Social Media Monitoring is a Hoot with RSSOwl

As most of my coworkers know, I get incredibly excited when I find new tools.  This month’s find is no exception. Over the past few weeks I was on the hunt for a really good RSS desktop application that is easy to use, customizable, and filterable.  Finally, after sifting through a handful applications that initially peaked my interest but later let me down or bored me, I discovered the cross-platform awesomeness of RSSOwl.  Download it here

If you work at a social media agency or even on an in-house social media team, you know how important it is to monitor brands and competitors (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can read more about social media monitoring from a previous Ignite post by Brian Chappell).  This post will show you how to use RSSOwl as a cheap and easy social media monitoring solution.


A Free DIY Monitoring Solution Using RSSOwl:

Before you can begin you must first install RSSOwl and plan out which keywords are most important to your company.

Helpful Social Media Monitoring Tip #1: Words to monitor
•   Company/Brand Name
•   Influential people within the company
•   Products or services
•   Your competitors (via the above listed)

•   “use quotations to pull in exact phrases,” especially if the words you want to monitor are popular


RSSOwl Setup


For this example, let us monitor the social media buzz around a fictional company called The Not-Creative Company Name Company.  To monitor the company setup a feed by keyword for: “The Not-Creative Company Name Company.” 

When you click through the setup, it will prompt you for a news source. You can select Google News, Google Blog Search, Twitter, Digg, Technorati, Youtube, etc.  This will pull any mentions of your company name on those sites.  Lather, rinse, and repeat for all sources you want to pull in and any additional company, competitor, or brand keywords. 

For this example I selected Twitter.  Now, anytime someone talks about The Not-Creative Company Name Company, RSSOwl will pull it in!

Looks like some weirdo posted about my fake company.  What a jerk…

Helpful Social Media Monitoring Tip #2:  Organize everything in folders!
•   Have a company folder
     •   And a Brand Mention Folder

         •   With Feeds
•   And a Product Folder
     •   With product folders!
         •   And you get the idea

•   Have a competitor folder (and lather, rinse, repeat)


Import and Export Feeds and Settings in RSSOwl

If you are already watching a blog roll in, say, Google Reader, you can export the feeds via .opml or .xml and import them into RSSOwl.


Export your file:


Import into RSSOwl:

If you had folders set up, they will remain. 



Filtering Feeds in RSSOwl

Probably one of my favorite features with RSSOwl is the filtering ability. Filters can be applied to individual feeds or folders by right clicking on them. With these filters you can make RSSOwl delete posts that contain keywords you don’t care about, mark them by importance level, move them to a different folder, etc. Want to mark negative posts about your brand so that you can respond? Sure! Just set up a filter so that it catches your brand name mentioned with a list of negative keywords like “sucks,” “hate,” “nasty word,” or other applicable words, tell the filter to mark it as important, and voila! 

Additionally, in “properties” (right click) for each file and folder you can set the frequency at which they update.  Important event happening on twitter and you need to be able to respond? You can set it to update every minute.


Workflow in RSSOwl


Did it pull in a post about your brand that you want to share with your social network? You can share it with several different networks including Facebook, Twitter, and Digg.  Is the post of interest to a specific team in the office?  Select E-Mail and it will open up your mail client with the message ready to be sent.


Want to make sure everyone in the office has RSSOwl and is watching the same feeds? Just export your list into an .xml or .opml, send it around the office, and now everyone is on the same page! Yay!


The Gist of it


With all monitoring tools, there are flaws; the biggest with RSSOwl being that setup is very manual and you can’t export the data it pulls. But, if you want a cheap free, high-level solution to monitoring your company and/or product, play around with RSSOwl and I think you might be pleasantly surprised.  It will be well worth your time to put a lot of dedicated effort when setting up the feeds and filters.  Once that is taken care of, sit back, relax, monitor, and take advantage of the workflow tools it provides. 

If you or someone in your company is already using RSSOwl I’d love to hear how you are using it and/or if you have any tips and tricks that I failed to mention in this post!

Further Reading

Additionally, if this topic is of interest and you’re hungry for more posts about free monitoring solutions, you can check out some other helpful tutorials:

aimClear Blog: How To Build A Reputation Monitoring Dashboard

Outspoken Media: Monitoring Social Media Metrics

Ignite Social Media