How to set up a simple, free buzz monitoring dashboard

Posted on: September 12, 2009

Listening is a vital part of engaging in social media. A buzz monitoring tool can allow you to keep track of what people are saying about your brand and subjects related to your products, services or community. It will give you the information you need to respond directly to people on behalf of your organisation and add value to your operation and wider network by sharing what you’ve found.

There are tools and agencies out there that you can pay to keep track of your brand on your behalf, but if budgets are tight you could choose to invest a little time and set up a simple buzz monitoring dashboard for free.

Step One

Sign up for Netvibes (I believe you can also do this sort of thing in iGoogle but netvibes was my first love and I’ve never strayed).


Step Two

Choose your keywords. There are four columns on a netvibes page – so to keep things simple you should choose 3 keywords (as you will also want to track your company / brand name). These need to be keywords related to the news and features relevant to your community or product. For example, if you are running a cycling enthusiast community you might choose ‘cycling’, ‘mountain biking’, ‘bike races’. If you are marketing your accountancy business you might want to search for ‘tax advice’, ‘company accounts’, ‘tax returns’. You should know best which three keywords are most relevant to you and the people you need to communicate with.

Step Three

Choose a four column netvibes page layout. Click edit for your netvibes page and you will see some layout options. The default is 3 – so you need to click to choose 4 boxes – this is the maximum you can have. This will give you a four column layout (you can experiment with other views but this works best for me).


Step Four

Set up your columns for each keyword. To do this you can use the ‘Webnote’ widget. Click ‘add content’ at the top-left of the page. 


Just select the Webnote widget and click to add to your page.


For speed you can duplicate the module three times and drag and drop them to the head of each column.


Then simply write your brand name in the first Webnote and your chosen keywords in the other three – this will serve as headings for each section of your dashboard. If you wish you can edit each web note to be a different colour as a visual aid.


Step Five

Get your feeds. You can find relevant RSS feeds by searching each for your keyword / brand name on sites that provide up-to-date relevant information – and copying the search RSS feed. For example, on twitter if you search for a keyword, on the right hand panel at the bottom you will see the following – you need to choose ‘RSS feed for this query’:


Here are some other RSS search feeds I’m currently using, but you should search other relevant sites / aggregators you like in addition:

Step Six

Add your feeds. You can add a feed to your netvibes page by clicking on add content again, and choosing ‘add a feed’. Then paste in the search results RSS feed and add to your page.


Once you have repeated for all keywords across all the sites you have chosen you should end up with a dashboard that searches several aggregators in real time – allowing you to track buzz effectively across several places on the web. As and when your priorities change you can easily adapt your dashboard by adding new search feeds or changing or adding to the keywords you are monitoring.



1 Response to "How to set up a simple, free buzz monitoring dashboard"

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