The advent of social media and the ease with which just about anyone and everyone can access it and contribute to it has created both a challenge and an opportunity for every group, organization and company. Schools, represented by their students, sports teams, activities and community, certainly have a significant online presence – one that can be positive or negative, appreciated or scorned. Being able to track this avalanche of information is important to every member of a school’s administration, especially the athletic director and coaches whose teams often are the most significant representation of a school to their community and communities beyond.
And while a simple Google search would be able to find a significant number of school name inclusions in websites and online documents, the rapidity and commonality of the social media is where an enormous amount of today’s web-based conversation is taking place. Misinformation needs to be clarified, the latest scores updated, the next event properly advertised and scheduled.
There are several applications that can assist a school’s athletic leadership in quickly viewing the thoughts, comments and information posted about their school teams’ successes and difficulties. Here are a few free examples that should be considered.
Topsy has proven to be a more powerful Twitter search engine than Twitter’s own. Allowing for several key indicators to be sought (even over a long period of time), this application can search in multiple ways for even the simplest mention of your school’s teams or team members.
Me on the Web allows Google account holders (free as well) to set up as many search terms as they like, seeking any inclusion of the names used (key team members, coaches, etc.). Like “If This Then That,” the alerts come as emails, but you can determine how often to receive them, thus providing a more immediate indication of successful searches.
If This Then That (IFTTT) allows you to set up a “recipe” (a set of rules to operate under) that will scan various RSS feeds for mentions of your school. This can be used to track the articles that local and regional newspapers post about your sports teams, schedule, games, matches and the like. The results of these “recipes” will be a daily email to the account(s) of your choice. Since the postings coming from these sources are not as immediate as other social media, the email response is significantly timely.
Social Mention looks at various channels for the key words you enter, checking websites, microblogs, images, videos and even search questions, and provides an RSS feed of those alerts, allowing you to continually monitor a variety of social media.
IceRocket gives you a set of tools needed to search blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Simply enter the term(s) you wish to find and which social media to look through, and IceRocket does the rest. The specificity of the search terms (including hashtags and links) proves to be the real power of this application.
Keeping track of what the online world says about your school can be overwhelming, but with these tools, monitoring that activity and making sure all is accurate can be much simpler.
Steffen Parker has worked with computers since the mid-1970s and has been a Macintosh user since its introduction in 1984. Owner–operator of Music Festival Software Solutions, he develops online registration and information Web sites for music festivals, state organizations and professional societies. Serving as an IT support person for the Vermont Principals’ Association and the Data Coach for Addison Rutland Supervisory Union, Parker supports computer use for adults working in education, administration, finance and publications, including the NFHS High School Today Publications Committee serving as the performing arts representative. Information for this article was provided by www.socialmediaexaminer.com.