Social Media Monitoring: Mention – An alternative to Google Alerts

| June 5, 2013

I’ll be honest, I don’t know what’s going on with Google Alerts. Earlier this year many of us noticed that we weren’t seeing the alerts that we should. Google just didn’t seem to be alerting us as often as it once did. Then Google killed Reader and there was speculation that Alerts was next. And now in the past few weeks it appears that Alerts is back on the upswing but it still doesn’t seem like it’s catching everything.

So what’s a community manager to do? We have to monitor our brand/reputation/products/etc. and Alerts has been an important tool in our arsenal. Recently a colleague told me about Mention. Mention has been around for about a year and doesn’t hide the fact that they aim to replace Google Alerts. I’ve spent the last month and a half using Mention and although it’s not perfect it has quickly become an important tool for me.

Mention offers three different plans with three different price points. The Free Plan gives you three alerts, 500 mentions per month and one month history. The Pro Plan is $19.99 per month (free one month trial) and offers unlimited alerts, 50,000 mentions per month, unlimited history, statistics and tools to export your data. The Team Plan is available for $99.99 per month with the same features of the Pro Plan but with multiple users (I’ll explain the multiple users part later).

Mention pricing options

Getting set up

It’s easy to get started with Mention. Their website is straightforward with easy to understand pricing and sign-up info. Creating an account and setting up your first alert is easily accomplished in three minutes.

Step 1 – Create an account
You just need your name, an email address and a password.

Step 2 – Create an alert
Create a title for your alert. Type in your expression (search term). You also have the option to use an “AND” operator and to exclude up to five words or phrases from your search.

Mention - create an alert

Step 3 – Manage and filter your sources
Decide which sources you want to monitor. Your options are:

  • Web
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • News
  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Forums
  • Images

You can choose to block sites, your own for instance, use the Priority Inbox and Anti-Noise technologies. Priority Inbox claims to identify mentions from influential people and important sources and the Anti-Noise technology attempts to filter out mentions similar to those you delete.

mention-manage-sources

That’s it. Mention should instantly start pulling in mentions that meet your criteria.

Getting to Work

Once your alerts are set up you’re taken to a fairly straightforward interface. Your searches are listed on the left with menu items that expand when you click on the search term. The screen shot below will give you an idea of your options but at the core is the Mentions section for each term. This shows you all the found mentions of that term and let’s you sort by source, unread or priority (more on priority later).

Mention user interface

The interface is well-designed and it’s easy to get the hang of the app. Your search terms are highlighted in the middle column and a handy window on the right allows you to click on a mention to view it without jumping to a new browser window. It’s also easy to “favorite” a mention so that you can find it again easily later.

Aside from the mentions area there is an account tab, a Statistics tab, an tab for inviting friends to join and a Settings tab. The Statistics tab is the only place where you’ll spend much time outside of the Mentions tab. The Statistics tab shows your mentions over a given period of time and even breaks it down by source and language. This can be valuable for tracking trends in how often people are talking about a given term.

One aspect of Mention that  wasn’t intuitive for me was that it seems to be designed so that the user never deletes unique mentions (unless trying to utilize the Anti-Noise technology). It’s more of a stream (think Twitter) albeit a stream where you may be trying to catch every mention. This isn’t really a bad thing but it took me a little time to get used to.

Team Features

If you sign up for the team plan you’re able to share mentions and tasks with others on your team. This could be particularly useful if you have different members of a team that follow up on different types of mentions. For instance your product expert could respond to tweets about the product and someone from the HR team could respond to job related inquiries. When a task is assigned to someone on the team they are sent an alert and for Twitter mentions they are even able to respond from inside the Mention apps.

An app like this is never going to take the place of a more complex tool like Marketing Cloud or Sprinklr but this team feature could make it a decent option for those teams unable to afford the pricier solutions.

Apps

As I said above, the Mention.net website is very well-designed. It’s easy to use and makes jumping in quick and, for the most part, intuitive. Mention also has apps for Chrome, desktop on Windows, Mac or Linux and mobile apps for iPhone and Android. I was able to test the Mac and iPhone apps and have been very happy with them.

The Mac application integrates with notification center and includes a badge showing the number of unread alerts. Other than that the Mac app is basically identical to the webapp. Which is fine with me, they are both fantastic.

The iPhone app is also very intuitive, partly because it is also similar to the webapp. It’s easy to view mentions, share mentions, assign a task, favorite a mention or do anything else that you could do on the apps for larger screens.

Mention iPhone app screen shots

iPhone app screen shots

Support

Support for Mention is lacking. I haven’t found a users guide or tutorial anywhere on the site. I also reached out to them on Twitter for support on a question and never heard back from them there. I eventually tried sending them an email letting them know that I was writing an article for TMM and finally got a response that way. Given the buzz around Mention right now it’s possible that the team is struggling to keep up with the load so I’ll cut them some slack for the lack of response but it is frustrating. Mention is based in Europe so perhaps time zone issues also play a part in their ability to respond promptly to U.S. customers.

Issues

Exclusions – My biggest issue with Mention is that I can only exclude up to 5 words or phrases. This is a huge drawback for me. For just one of my search queries I can get up to 30 mentions in a day. Typically only a couple of those are relevant to me so I end up ignoring alerts as they come in which partly defeats the point of using the service. This won’t be an issue if you’re tracking very specific branded mentions but anyone following more generic industry terms will probably face the same frustration. The ability to exclude more terms would drastically cut down on the noise. This one issue alone means that I’ll continue to be on the lookout for a better service.

Priority Inbox – I’m not sure how Mention decides which alerts are a priority but in my experience the Priority inbox is not accurate. For instance I was alerted to several retweets of a particular tweet. However, only a retweet from someone vaguely associated with my industry and with only a couple hundred followers was shown as a priority. The original person to retweet the story is in my industry (as her bio states) and has more than 10,000 followers. I’m much more interested in that original retweet from someone who is an influencer in my industry.

Social Channels – One of the best things about Mention is that it monitors Twitter and Facebook. This is a big differentiator from Google Alerts so I can’t complain too much about the lack of integration with other social platforms. However, I hope that eventually we see support for Google+, Pinterest and others.

Summary

Overall Mention is a good tool to have. The price is fantastic and it does a good job at finding the search terms I set up. The team features could also be great for a startup or smaller size business that needs to be tracking mentions across the web without the cost of some of the other more robust solutions.

Mention functions as advertised. Alerts come in surprisingly quickly after they pop up and sync well across devices. The UI for mention across all of the apps is also great. It’s easy to jump in and feel like you’re mastering the process after just a few minutes.

Tags: ,

Category: Google Gossip, Recruit 101, Social Media Marketing, Special Agent Intermediate, tmmBosley, tmmJill, tmmKelly, TMMPDX, tmmSabrina, Veteran Advanced

Comments are closed.

http://www.tmmpdx.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/02-Mention-Logo-v1-300x245-150x150.png Adam Lee Google GossipRecruit 101Social Media MarketingSpecial Agent IntermediatetmmBosleytmmJilltmmKellyTMMPDXtmmSabrinaVeteran Advanced ,

I’ll be honest, I don’t know what’s going on with Google Alerts. Earlier this year many of us noticed that we weren’t seeing the alerts that we should. Google just didn’t seem to be alerting us as often as it once did. Then Google killed Reader and there was speculation that Alerts was next. And now in the past few weeks it appears that Alerts is back on the upswing but it still doesn’t seem like it’s catching everything.

So what’s a community manager to do? We have to monitor our brand/reputation/products/etc. and Alerts has been an important tool in our arsenal. Recently a colleague told me about Mention. Mention has been around for about a year and doesn’t hide the fact that they aim to replace Google Alerts. I’ve spent the last month and a half using Mention and although it’s not perfect it has quickly become an important tool for me.

Mention offers three different plans with three different price points. The Free Plan gives you three alerts, 500 mentions per month and one month history. The Pro Plan is $19.99 per month (free one month trial) and offers unlimited alerts, 50,000 mentions per month, unlimited history, statistics and tools to export your data. The Team Plan is available for $99.99 per month with the same features of the Pro Plan but with multiple users (I’ll explain the multiple users part later).

Mention pricing options

Getting set up

It’s easy to get started with Mention. Their website is straightforward with easy to understand pricing and sign-up info. Creating an account and setting up your first alert is easily accomplished in three minutes.

Step 1 – Create an account
You just need your name, an email address and a password.

Step 2 – Create an alert
Create a title for your alert. Type in your expression (search term). You also have the option to use an “AND” operator and to exclude up to five words or phrases from your search.

Mention - create an alert

Step 3 – Manage and filter your sources
Decide which sources you want to monitor. Your options are:

  • Web
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • News
  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Forums
  • Images

You can choose to block sites, your own for instance, use the Priority Inbox and Anti-Noise technologies. Priority Inbox claims to identify mentions from influential people and important sources and the Anti-Noise technology attempts to filter out mentions similar to those you delete.

mention-manage-sources

That’s it. Mention should instantly start pulling in mentions that meet your criteria.

Getting to Work

Once your alerts are set up you’re taken to a fairly straightforward interface. Your searches are listed on the left with menu items that expand when you click on the search term. The screen shot below will give you an idea of your options but at the core is the Mentions section for each term. This shows you all the found mentions of that term and let’s you sort by source, unread or priority (more on priority later).

Mention user interface

The interface is well-designed and it’s easy to get the hang of the app. Your search terms are highlighted in the middle column and a handy window on the right allows you to click on a mention to view it without jumping to a new browser window. It’s also easy to “favorite” a mention so that you can find it again easily later.

Aside from the mentions area there is an account tab, a Statistics tab, an tab for inviting friends to join and a Settings tab. The Statistics tab is the only place where you’ll spend much time outside of the Mentions tab. The Statistics tab shows your mentions over a given period of time and even breaks it down by source and language. This can be valuable for tracking trends in how often people are talking about a given term.

One aspect of Mention that  wasn’t intuitive for me was that it seems to be designed so that the user never deletes unique mentions (unless trying to utilize the Anti-Noise technology). It’s more of a stream (think Twitter) albeit a stream where you may be trying to catch every mention. This isn’t really a bad thing but it took me a little time to get used to.

Team Features

If you sign up for the team plan you’re able to share mentions and tasks with others on your team. This could be particularly useful if you have different members of a team that follow up on different types of mentions. For instance your product expert could respond to tweets about the product and someone from the HR team could respond to job related inquiries. When a task is assigned to someone on the team they are sent an alert and for Twitter mentions they are even able to respond from inside the Mention apps.

An app like this is never going to take the place of a more complex tool like Marketing Cloud or Sprinklr but this team feature could make it a decent option for those teams unable to afford the pricier solutions.

Apps

As I said above, the Mention.net website is very well-designed. It’s easy to use and makes jumping in quick and, for the most part, intuitive. Mention also has apps for Chrome, desktop on Windows, Mac or Linux and mobile apps for iPhone and Android. I was able to test the Mac and iPhone apps and have been very happy with them.

The Mac application integrates with notification center and includes a badge showing the number of unread alerts. Other than that the Mac app is basically identical to the webapp. Which is fine with me, they are both fantastic.

The iPhone app is also very intuitive, partly because it is also similar to the webapp. It’s easy to view mentions, share mentions, assign a task, favorite a mention or do anything else that you could do on the apps for larger screens.

Mention iPhone app screen shots

iPhone app screen shots

Support

Support for Mention is lacking. I haven’t found a users guide or tutorial anywhere on the site. I also reached out to them on Twitter for support on a question and never heard back from them there. I eventually tried sending them an email letting them know that I was writing an article for TMM and finally got a response that way. Given the buzz around Mention right now it’s possible that the team is struggling to keep up with the load so I’ll cut them some slack for the lack of response but it is frustrating. Mention is based in Europe so perhaps time zone issues also play a part in their ability to respond promptly to U.S. customers.

Issues

Exclusions – My biggest issue with Mention is that I can only exclude up to 5 words or phrases. This is a huge drawback for me. For just one of my search queries I can get up to 30 mentions in a day. Typically only a couple of those are relevant to me so I end up ignoring alerts as they come in which partly defeats the point of using the service. This won’t be an issue if you’re tracking very specific branded mentions but anyone following more generic industry terms will probably face the same frustration. The ability to exclude more terms would drastically cut down on the noise. This one issue alone means that I’ll continue to be on the lookout for a better service.

Priority Inbox – I’m not sure how Mention decides which alerts are a priority but in my experience the Priority inbox is not accurate. For instance I was alerted to several retweets of a particular tweet. However, only a retweet from someone vaguely associated with my industry and with only a couple hundred followers was shown as a priority. The original person to retweet the story is in my industry (as her bio states) and has more than 10,000 followers. I’m much more interested in that original retweet from someone who is an influencer in my industry.

Social Channels – One of the best things about Mention is that it monitors Twitter and Facebook. This is a big differentiator from Google Alerts so I can’t complain too much about the lack of integration with other social platforms. However, I hope that eventually we see support for Google+, Pinterest and others.

Summary

Overall Mention is a good tool to have. The price is fantastic and it does a good job at finding the search terms I set up. The team features could also be great for a startup or smaller size business that needs to be tracking mentions across the web without the cost of some of the other more robust solutions.

Mention functions as advertised. Alerts come in surprisingly quickly after they pop up and sync well across devices. The UI for mention across all of the apps is also great. It’s easy to jump in and feel like you’re mastering the process after just a few minutes.