Hall of Awesomeness

Media, marketing, communicatie, fun

monitoring jokeBecause almost all of our courses in the third semester at FEHT are being conducted in English this year, I’m afraid I will now have to confront the world with my rusty English skills. For that, I offer my sincere apologies.

This post is written mainly for 2nd-year FEHT  Communication students, attending our Marketing Communication course this semester. It focusses on the research you conduct at the start of any marketing communication campaign. As explained the textbook by Floor and Van Raaij, marketeers research consumers, products and their competition. Only when yo know what your target audience looks like and what they think of your brand or company, products and services, you are able to build a relationship with your customers and reach them with your communication activities.

Thanks to the internet, there’s a tremendous amount of data available, generated by your target group. Marketeers use different tools to analyse this data, helping them with their strategic decissions. There are  numerous monitoring tools we can use to stay on top of our target audience by looking at their social media activities. Thanks to these tools,  we are able to see how people talk about our brand, our products and the market we operate in.

In this post, I will discuss a couple of relevant tools that will prove their worth to students: they are simple to use and free, cheap or offer a free trial periods (and no, I don’t think students are dumb and cheap. At least not all of them =). Before we start with the fun part, I’d like prompt you with a small disclaimer: beware that monitoring tools can suddenly change. Whether it’s their pricing plans  or the services they provide.  And sometimes they just stop with what they are doing. I’ll try to keep up with these changes, but no Boohoo If things went to fast for me to keep up with 😉 Here we go!


hootsuite logo

As said before, people and companies use social media monitoring tools to track and analyse what people say about their brands, services and products. One of the best known tools is Hootsuite, founded in 2008. The software has more than ten million users,  offering them publishing functions as well as analytics reports. It is mostly used by business for managing large accounts, but offers several functionalities that have proven helpful to consumers as well.

Publishing tool

Hootsuite is a great publishing tool for your social media accounts. You can add your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, WordPress and LinkedIn accounts ans post and/or time your messages to one of these platforms. Of course  you can post the same message to all platforms at the same time as well, but I advice my students to diversify in the content they publish, and make tailor-made contributions to each platform.

Hootsuite publishing

Social Analytics

Secondly, Hootsuite provides insights to a wide range of data involved with your own accounts, like:
– Number of followers/mentions/retweets
– The online reach of your messages
– The number of clicks on the links you posted
– Sentiment of tweets related to your brand or products (Although these statistics aren’t 100% accurate as a result of the way people use language an how they express themselves)
hootsuite owly


As shown below, Hootsuite offers 3 different plans. The basic account is mainly used for publishing. It will let you manage up to three social media accounts and compose basic reports (#folowers, #likes, shares and comments. For personal use, this will do just fine, but if you want additional information, you must choose between the pro or enterprise editions. But even when you take the pro account, you will have to pay extra for specific reports.
hootsuite pricing plans


A great pro is that there you can find many manuals and instruction video’s online. Try the Hootsuite Academy channel, for example, or read the Mashable Beginner’s Guide to Hootsuite.



topsy home.jpgAnother nice tool is Topsy. With this free service, you can compare the number of tweets, photos and videos related to your brand or products with your competitors. It is a very basic tool, giving you insights on the different sorts of content and number of posts in which you are mentioned. The lack of depth makes it easy to use however. The fact that you don’t have to register or sign up to start using it, makes it very appealing to students. But keep in mind: the output of the reports is very basic and it may not be sufficient for a thesis or marketing communication strategy.

In the screenshot below you can see how Fontys measures up against its competitors Avans Hogescholen and InHolland
topsy fontys avans inholland.jpg



Followerwonk logoIf you want more information about your Twitter followers, you might want to try Followerwonk. Their free account will let you search for keywords in Twitter bios in order to find relevant Twitter users. You can also use it to compare your social authority with other accounts. Followerwonk offers its users a lots of statistics and graphs about your followers, varying from their activity during the day (which shows you the best time to reach your followers) to their social authority. This information be prove useful when you want to know which followers you should try to get on board of your social marketing campaign.

An example of a comparison between 3 Twitter accounts: the author of this post (@barendkaas, and two of my colleagues, @luijten1974 and @jorisvandooren)
followerwonk compare accounts
If you’re willing to pay $99 for a pro-account, you will be able to track your followers and sort them by number of tweets, authority, followers and following.
followerwonk - followers breakdown




quintly logoUse Quintly, part of the MOZ-network, if you want to compare your Facebook statistics with your competitors. You can also monitor Twitter, youtube, G+ and LinkedIn accounts, but because you have to authorize Quintly from within these accounts, you can only  use it to analyse the ones you own.

The basic plan is free. With it, you can monitor up to 3 accounts, with a limited history of 30 days. Paid plans go from $69 up to $399 per month, but you can try the software for free for 15 days (remember students,next semester you will work in groups consisting of 4-6 students, so in theory your group can try this software for 60-90 days).
quintly pricing
Quintly delivers various sorts of metrics, like number of followers, likes and shares, and, more important, the interaction rate per account and per post. You can even break down this information into interaction per post type (e.g. photos, links, videos, etc.)

quintly - likes


quintly interactions per post type

Quintly – Interactions per post type


Other resources

As you can see, there are many tools you can use to get a better idea of what your target audience looks like or to find ow how your customers talk about you and your brand. But there are also a lot of resources to help you with your desk research. A lot of online websites publish white papers, reports, keynotes and so on which might help you with your MC-plan. (I’m sorry English speaking visitors, but I’m afraid that some of them are written in Dutch):

Marketing facts: one of the largest Dutch blogs when it comes to online marketing. Within their research section (“kennisbank”) you can find the latest research on media and marketing. Check out their “stats” pages for the latest statistics on internet usage, social media penetration, online shopping, etc.

marketingfacts - stats


Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek or CBS): Statistics Netherlands is responsible for collecting and processing data in order to publish statistics to be used in practice, by policymakers and for scientific research, They publish reports on all kinds of subjects, but I’m mostly interested in the ones that cover online media usage in The Netherlands. A report on online buying for example. Or this one, on the penetration of smart phones in The Netherlands.

cbs vrije tijd en cultuur


So here we are at the end of my post. If you have any questions, alternative tools, comments, tips or corrections, please let me know!





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