Today I got an e-mail from bookmarking site Iterasi asking me to give their PositivePress a trial run. PositivePress is a reporting suite that pulls pages containing the keywords you want to monitor – not unlike Google Alerts or Radian6, two reporting mechanisms that are extremely different. While Google Alerts tends to offer up a scant number of mentions, Radian6 can choke you to death with information.
The short version here is that so far I love PositivePress. If you are keeping tabs on what others are saying about your company or brand, this is an easy, low-cost solution with great reporting features. It doesn’t just check social media sites, but anything with a feed where someone can be talking about you.
If you’re not monitoring for your brand or company, however, you really are playing with a loaded gun. I’ll go forward with this assuming you the reader understand the reasons for keeping up on what people are saying about you in news, forums, blogs and micro-blogs, and that anyone else lacks a sense of self-preservation.
The first reason I like PositivePress so much (and this comes in no particular order) is that it can generate reports for me, rather than giving me a pile of raw data to sift through so I can create one myself, (Radian6,) or tease me each day with four or five mentions that give me an all-too incomplete picture of what was actually said about the brand I’m monitoring. (Google Alerts.)
The reports can be branded by the company or agency using it, which is standard fare for these kinds of products. If you do end up using it for your company or agency, this will save you a LOT of time. Since hacking through reams and reams of mentions and producing a report can take several of your month’s billable hours, it’s a good consideration to keep in mind.
What’s more – and I think this is the really cool part – instead of getting thousands of lines representing these mentions, you get a copy of the actual page that PositivePress found. You can save these for later viewing, and include them in reports you send. This means you can call out exceptionally good or exceptionally bad mentions. It’s the kind of thing you would want for daily monitoring of a brand, since you could not only spot the fire early, you could get your organization to act on it quickly.
Another nice thing about this reporting suite is that you create the sources you are checking from. (Remember, I’m going out of order here.) There are several built in feeds you can use to check for your brand’s mention: Digg, Twitter, Yahoo News, Google News, Techcrunch, Technorati, etc. You can also add in specific feeds.
For my testing, I checked for mentions of MindTouch, a software development company known for it’s open source collaboration software Deki. So if I want to find mentions of their brand, I need to keep abreast of mentions on more niche sites. I can easily add in the RSS feeds from Slashdot or ZDNet and see what they are saying about them. If Technorati or Bing don’t pick up on these threads, I know I will still get the mentions. It means you need to be up on these smaller sites that relate to the company you’re working with, but frankly, if you can’t be bothered to find those, you really have bigger problems.
PositivePress doesn’t have a team of people combing through your results for you, like a Spiral16 would. (It would be nice, but frankly that’s why Spiral16 costs what it does.) So like any other reporting solution, you need to read through the findings yourself to determine if it’s good, bad, indifferent, or wrong. The way the pages are saved, however, means you don’t need to jump from page to page within your browser – which is a minor irritant, but a major waste of time. You can convert the pages to straight text as well, so you can quickly find the mention, make a judgement call, and move on.
Something else to love about this system is it’s ease of use. The heftier reporting suites often have a steep learning curve – this means you have one or two people in your company who know how to use them well, and many other people simply dependent on them to put the information together. PositivePress sets up in about ten minutes, and finding what you need is clearly laid out for you – reports, feeds, statistics, etc.
And OHHHHH I like that! It is vaguely insulting to me that so many of these programs do great things, but require so much investigation and even classes to use them right. This is because engineers were given the keys to the design studio, and created something engineers could easily navigate – unlike everyone else. If only a few people are able to use the program, you’re at the mercy of those few people. Their perceptions of what is important to the brand, the company or it’s market may not be as good as their ability to learn an arcane and indifferent program interface.
In short, this is a pretty easy to use, utilitarian, well-designed buzz reporting tool. The lowest cost plan is $99 a month, but you can get a free month to test it out first. I suggest you give it a shot – you could put together a lot of this information yourself, but the ease of use and reporting features are worth it.