Each quarter Snoo.ws tackles a new series topic to provide our audience with insight, intelligence, examples and ideas. This month is Monitoring Month where we will cover everything from basic monitoring 101 to the top monitoring tools to monitoring’s role in your overall strategy. So, stay tuned – there’s plenty to come.
I’m so excited to bring you this exclusive interview with Alex Holt, Creative Technical Director – Founder & Creator of monitter.com. According to the website itself, monitter is “a real time twitter search tool that enables you to monitor a set of keywords on twitter. It also allows you to narrow the search to a particular geographic location, allowing you to find out what’s going on in a particular part of the world.”monitter is free, easy to use, incredibly helpful and just the sort of social media monitoring platform that we’ve been discussing all month long during the Snoo.ws April series Monitoring Month. It’s a great way to track tweets about you, your brand, a product, competitors, etc. Read on to get some excellent insight about real time twitter monitoring, and how your brand can use a simple platform like monitter to better know what’s being said about online.
Without further adieu… read on and learn:
Rose: How did your involvement in monitter come about?
Alex: monitter was a side project that I conceptualised and launched in 2008 – it started as a weekend experiment. I blogged about it – although on re-reading the post, it’s a little embarrassing : but for posterity’s sake, it’s here: http://soyrex.com/articles/jquery-twitter-night-coding/ (the code sample is a bit messed up.. it’s been moved through about 6 iterations of my site)
Since then, I’ve had a fair bit of investor interest, however nothing at a level that has made me consider selling. The project generates quite a lot of interest and between widget sales, custom deployments and donations, it pays for its own existence.
Rose: How real time is monitter? Are we talking seconds, minutes, days?
Alex: That’s really dependant on twitter’s API. monitter puts your web browser directly in contact with twitter, so it’s as real-time as a) twitter’s API and b) your internet connection.
To answer the question though, we’re usually talking seconds – minutes depending on twitter’s load.
Rose: That’s really impressive, and certainly makes monittor a really clutch site to turn to. Knowing what’s being said about your brand right away is a great way to prevent a crisis from spiraling out of control and to just perform risk management in general. Very cool.
I also LOVE that monitter is free. Why did you decide to offer it as a free tool?
Alex: Originally it was an experiment. I wanted to see if it would be possible to build a real-time twitter search interface that would run in the browser. I also wanted to see if you could successfully market a twitter tool using ONLY twitter (which we did).
Rose: Would you ever charge for it?
Alex: We’ve toyed with the idea of expanding our offering to a premium (paid) service, however the ability to search in real-time (like the current site) will always be free.
There has been a huge amount of interest in statistics and reporting, which the current iteration of monitter can’t do, so we’ve been doing a lot of research and testing into the possibilities here.
Rose: Who should be using monitter?
Alex: That’s a good question. Initially, I really saw it predominantly for hardcore twitter users. However it’s become increasingly obvious over time that the most common use for tools like monitter is for monitoring brands.
Personally, I think the true power for brands with a real-time tool like monitter is actually the engagement, not monitoring. The most important (and also least understood) facet of social media for brands is engaging with your audience, and monitter is a way for you to see what people are saying and start a dialogue.
Rose: What’s important about monitoring Twitter in particular?
Alex: In reality, twitter is just another channel. As a brand guardian, it’s important to be monitoring any channel that your audience might be using. Since twitter has consistently grown over the past few years it has become increasingly necessary to keep track of what people are tweeting.
Rose: Do you have any tips for brands that want to use monitter?
Alex: One could probably write a book on this topic.
First and foremost: be responsive. There’s no point using twitter if you pay a freelance brand manager to check your twitter account once a week – you need to be actively monitoring what’s going on, so when someone tweets you respond. Fast.
It’s 140 characters, it’s difficult to really spend more than a few minutes composing a tweet, and given the public nature of the forum, any dialogue you open is like advertising. BUT the lifespan of a tweet’s relevance is negligible, so ideally you need to be responding within the hour. The best way to think about it is: every minute you miss makes the engagement a little less valuable.
Lastly, engage people on both positive AND negative fronts. When someone complains about your product/service/brand start a dialogue with them about it. When someone points something you’ve done wrong, or could have done better, thank them for it.
Rose: Yeah, it’s a huge topic to try and nail down – but I really like the main points you’ve given here. Your working knowledge of twitter is so on-point.
monitter has its own set of widgets that I’ve been checking out. What widgets are the most popular? What do they do?
Alex: At the moment, we have 3 widget offerings on monitter. The first one is a free, easy to set up twitter stream – basically it allows you to put a monitter column on your own site.
There are also 2 paid widget offerings, the first one is just the free widget with our branding removed and the second one allows you to set up a geocoded monitter widget, to show geolocation specific tweets on your own site.
We’ve got a few new ones in the works. Along with a new version of the site that improves the user interface and also gives the user a lot more control of settings like “speed” and “language” and “theme”.
We’re also looking at building versions of the widget for popular CMS platforms(WordPress, Joomla etc), to further ease adoption or non-developers.
Rose: What’s coming down the pipe for Monitter? What’s in your near future?
Alex: We’re working on a completely new build of the site (you can sneak a peak here: http://b2.monitter.com - it’s basically a rework of the entire interface, allowing more control and a few extra settings). We’re also looking to further feature the widgets that we sell (since they are buried in the current site.
A little more on Alex:
Alex is a designer and developer originally from Sydney, Australia. He’s been running his own web and digital business for about 14 years. Alex spoke to me from Barcelona, Spain – one of the many fabulous international locales he’s called home in the past six years (he’s also lived in Montreux, Switzerland; Roatan, Honduras; London, UK).
Alex is super knowledgeable about monitoring the social web and the many benefits that come from listening. I hope y’all enjoy reading as much as I had getting to know Alex and learning from him – and please be sure to check out monitter. It’s a free platform, very easy to use, and it’s really a powerful tool to have at your disposal.
Want to get in touch with Alex yourself? Check out his personal site http://soyrex.com and follow him on Twitter @soyrex. Of course, feel free to comment here and let us know what you thought about Alex, monitter, and your own experiences with his site or social media monitoring in general.
Alex, thanks so much for your time, insight, knowledge and thoughtful answers – what a great interview to share with all of our readers!