HJ Heinz Wasn’t Listening. Are You? How to Set Up a Real-time Twitter Monitoring System Today – Twitter PR strategies

Earlier this week, Advertising Age featured an article by Michael Werch titled My Life as H.J. Heinz: Confessions of a Real-Life Twitter Squatter.

In late 2009, Wertz created a H.J. Heinz, yes the ketchup company, twitter account and proceeded to twitter on behalf of Heinz – links to recipes, bits of history about the company. He followed people in Pittsburgh, Heinz’s hometown, and people who included the word “Heinz” in their tweets, and he started to build a following.

And, oh yeah, he was never authorized by Heinz to create a Twitter account or to tweet on their behalf. After two weeks, Wertz logged into Twitter and found his account changed from @HJ_Heinz to @notHJ_Heinz. Today, if you’re curious and try to find the @HJ_Heinz account, they’ve protected their tweets. What?

Some might read my headline above and think it’s misleading. They were listening and they responded. “They contacted Twitter and had this yahoo booted after two weeks.” Two weeks? Time in social media is measured in dog years. Two weeks is the equivalent of about 6 months.

I’m curious. If Wertz had been tweeting links to unsanitary uses of ketchup, would Heinz have responded faster?

Yes, someone at Heinz was listening, despite their slow response. But, what if you’re working at a company that can’t afford a social media monitoring dashboard? What if you’re a small, locally-owned business that wants to make sure you know what people are saying about your business online, yet you don’t want to spend hours each day manually doing searches on Twitter to monitor the conversation.

Learning how to set up a real-time Twitter monitoring system isn’t new. Chris Brogan wrote about in January 2009, and you should definitely check out his article. But, technology changes, and I have some updates to Brogan’s great suggestions.

How to set up a real-time Twitter monitoring system:

1. Go to Twitter Search.

2. Search on your business name.

3. On the results page of your Twitter search, notice the orange RSS button in the upper right hand corner of the page with the text, “Feed for this query.” Click on that button.

4. Copy and paste the RSS feed URL, and then go to Feed My Inbox, and subscribe to that feed. For $5 per month, you can subscribe to 25 feeds and get real-time feed updates. If you choose that option, you will get an email, in real-time, each time your business name shows up in Twitter. If real-time updates overwhelm you, you can easily change them to once-a-day updates.

5. Go back to step 1, and create a new feed with the name of your town, the type of business you’re in, (Mexican restaurant, plumber) combined with another word, “hates, crap, love, wonderful, question, recommend” and you can create multiple feeds, each one of them subscribed to via Feed My Inbox.

6. As Chris Brogan pointed out, you can use this type of system in a variety of online monitoring tools, including Google Alerts, Icerocket (for monitoring blog conversations), etc.

Are you monitoring the Twitter conversation about your company and your local industry? Can you afford not to?

Photo credit – Nick Fraser

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