Tracking your Company's Mentions with Del.icio.us
Today I'd like to share a little Del.icio.us trick that might be useful for your company. It's something I saw used at Atlassian and that I've been using extensively ever since starting Balsamiq.
An intro to del.icio.us
Most everyone knows what delicious (or del.icio.us) is by now (Wikipedia entry). The bookmark-in-the-cloud service was revolutionary in many ways, it was one of the first social web applications, before "social media" was even a term.
Here's a screenshot of a user's page (click to enlarge):
In essence, delicious lets you save your bookmarks on an account on the delicious (now Yahoo) servers, and "tag them" with keywords for easier searching later on.
This alone is very useful, as it lets you access your same bookmarks from any computer, or even just different browsers on the same computer. The tag system helps you find old links quickly, which is extremely useful as we collect more and more bookmarks over the years.
I suspect the vast majority of delicious users only use the service this way, blissfully ignorant of how their own personal use contributes to the larger, social aspect of the tool.
The thing is, by default everyone's bookmark lists and associated tags are publicly accessible by anyone. Ha! :)
Seeing other people's bookmarks
So for instance you can go to delicious.com/garyvee to see all of the bookmarks Gary Vaynerchuck has ever saved there, or delicious.com/joshua to see what the creator of del.icio.us is bookmarking these days.
You can even "refine your search" by going to delicious.com/joshua/food to see every bookmark related to food bookmarked by Joshua Schachter.
This automatic-sharing and easy-filtering is pretty powerful, especially if you consider that those pages have RSS feeds associated with them. Want to be notified whenever Joshua finds another food-related link? Just subscribe to the RSS feed for the page above - an easy way to follow what your heroes deem worthy of bookmarking.
Another page you can go on is delicious.com/popular, to see what people are bookmarking today. A great way to find what the world thinks "the best of the Internet" is today...I suspect many journalists watch this page. But I digress...
Searching by Tag
Just like you can search a user's bookmarks, you can also search bookmarks by tag. So for instance if you go to delicious.com/tag/scuba, you'll see a list of links that people find interesting about it, sortable by "most recent" and "most popular", each sorted view with an RSS feed for it.
The Problem: Organizing Your Company Press Mentions
Say your team created a product, or a web app, or what-have-you. Obviously you'll want to keep tabs on when your product is mentioned on the web. Using RSS coupled with search results is a great way to do it, which I describe in this old blog post.
Now the problem is: as you collect new mentions of your product on your feed reader, how do you categorize them, save them for posterity and share the categorized list with your colleagues and the world? Also, if there are a few of you in charge of keeping track of these mentions, how do you make sure the categorized list doesn't have duplicates? Doing it manually, even on a wiki page, is enormously time-consuming. Believe me, I tried it.
This is where del.icio.us can step in to help.
The trick to make it all work is simple: as you start collecting links about whatever you're tracking, add them all to delicious, using a tagging system you have internally agreed upon.
For instance, look at this page: http://delicious.com/tag/atlassian_press
I saw a browser open to that page with the corner of my eye on my first visit to Atlassian, and it immediately made me realize how awesome they are as a company. :)
See, all they had to do was to tell every employee: "if you see a mention of Atlassian anywhere on the web, add it to delicious with the atlassian_press tag".
Brilliantly simple to explain, to remember and to do.
The cool thing is that as people do that, delicious adds all the links to the page above, automatically collating it into a single list without duplicates - instead, it shows how many people bookmarked that same link, giving you an indication of how popular that particular link was (useful if you want to advertise on that particular blog for instance, or even just thank the blogger/journalist who wrote the piece).
Additionally, you can see the number of bookmarks on the list at any time (including when you add a new tag), which can be useful sometimes (you could even track this over time!).
But wait, there's more! The page above is completely public! Not only non-employees can see it, but can contribute to it as well! For instance, I have been adding links to the delicious.com/tag/napkee_press page as I come across mention of Mockups' perfect companion on the web.
Using a public service to maintain that list also speaks volumes about what kind of company you are: you're telling the world: "here's what the Internet thinks about us, feel free to make your own opinion of our company by reading it."
Open, confident, honest. Brilliant.
Wait, how can you be sure that the list is complete and not censored? A company might decide to only tag good reviews, ignoring the bad press. The short answer is "you can't", but remember that anyone can contribute to the list, and the effort required to police it would far outweigh the benefits of using delicious this way. Plus, a Google, Google Blog, Google News or Twitter search for the same company is just a few clicks away!
In other words, since you can't hide anything on the Internet these days, why even try? I love it love it love it.
Needless to say, I have embraced this practice entirely, and now use a number of tags for each mention of Balsamiq I find on the web.
Our Delicious Tag Lists
Here are the tags we use for bookmarking Balsamiq press, and how we use them.
balsamiq_press (3,263 links at time of writing): this is the "catch-all" tag, the comprehensive list. Every time see something about Balsamiq, I bookmark it with this tag, usually along with one of the tags below. I try to tag everything, the good and the bad. The only thing I do not tag is warez sites offering cracked copy of the software. Sorry, but I'm not going to help you find those... :)
balsamiq_reviews (1,554 links): any time I see a review of Mockups, I use this tag. I also use it if the link is not a full-blown review but it contains a sentence or more about the product...as long as the author expresses an opinion on the product.
balsamiq_comments (219 links): if I see a mention of Balsamiq as a comment to a blog, or on Friendfeed, digg, Hacker News or any other "forum-like" website, I use this tag instead of the balsamiq_reviews tag.
balsamiq_love (135 links): I reserve this tag for those mentions that shower us with love. ;) The goal here is to keep a list from which to cull customer quotes to use on this website. These quotes are better than ones received via email, as you don't need to ask permission to use them - it's already public knowledge!
balsamiq_tweets (1,039 links): when we first started, I bookmarked every Tweet about Mockups with this tag. It soon became too time-consuming, so I now only use this tag for those tweets that say very nice things about us, something to add to our Twitter background in the future. Instead of sending people to that list, I now just send people to this Twitter search result page directly. Somewhat related, we also maintain a Twitter list of all the wireframing-tools on the market, so that people can get an unfiltered sense for the whole space we're in.
balsamiq_puzzle (24 links): I'll write about this "puzzle" thing in another post. It's basically articles that are about stuff we do that's not related to our core competency. Just know that we're trying to earn as many as these kind of links as possible. :)
balsamiq_sightings (28 links): I use this one whenever I come across something that was made with Mockups, even if they don't mention it. I love to spot these! If you come across any and have the time, add it to delicious with balsamiq_sightings, ok? Thanks!
balsamiq_videos (9 links): I use this tag for those reviews that include screencasts, or for our own videos.
balsamiq_jobs (10 links): apparently knowing how to use Mockups has become an requirement for some jobs, which I find amusing because Mockups takes about 5 minutes to learn, or so we hear ;) This is a cool list for you to keep tabs on in case you're a Mockups expert and are looking for a job!
The beauty of having the lists above is that they can be used on many different occasions. For instance, we link to the balsamiq_love and balsamiq_press lists straight from our testimonials page. We also show the RSS from the balsamiq_reviews page on the side-bar of our blog.
I also recently added the RSS feed for balsamiq_press to our OPML file, so if you're interested in keeping track with our own output as well as what the Internet says about us (hi mom!), you can now get it all in one convenient package.
To wrap it up: we've been very happy with this little delicious trick and continue to find new uses and benefits from it all the time. We recommend it!
What do you think? Do you do something similar? How do you track your product's mentions?
Big shout-out to Laura Khalil at Atlassian for inadvertently showing this to me. ;)