Any sound advice around implementing a social media strategy will include this first ground rule: Listen to the digital communities and channels where your current and prospective customer’s are. Yahoo! Sideline, the new Desktop AIR App for monitoring Twitter, allows you to do this very well for the Twittersphere. The only problem being, true to its name, it keeps you on the sidelines while doing so.
Like Robin Wauters of TechCrunch, I took it for a spin, and unlike him, I’ll probably do so again. While advanced Twitter search and other desktop Twitter apps like TweetDeck have allowed you to perform keyword searches in the past, Sideline takes it a step further by allowing you to group keywords under larger buckets.
Why is this important for marketers and PR professionals? We’re already utilizing tools similar to Sideline to track for company, competitor and industry term mentions throughout the press and blogosphere on a daily basis. Sideline’s functionality makes that monitoring process much easier for Twitter, where it’s even more important to set-up numerous keywords for individual brands or products.
Due to Twitter’s character limit, users often abbreviate or use slang for the brand or product they are referring to. Making it easy to miss relevant mentions. For instance, if I was working for RIM and I wanted to track all mentions of the Blackberry Storm on Twitter, I would need to set up searches for “Blackberry Storm,” “BB Storm,” “Berry Storm,” in addition to others – to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Slide allows you to bundle all those search terms under a larger group name / tab. Therefore, I could set-up an all-encompassing “BlackBerry Storm” tab, in addition to other tabs that track competing products (i.e. the iPhone) and industry terms (i.e. touchscreen).
While the early complaint against Slide is that it keeps you on the bench, by not allowing you to converse through the app, it is a handy tool for the upfront observation / listening period. In addition, while the tool may not be good for Twitter brand handlers that are communicating through Twitter on a daily basis, it’d be a natural desktop assistant for junior staffers, who are already responsible for tracking company, competitor and industry term mentions in the press and blogosphere on a daily basis.