Archive for June, 2013

There is a wide variety of social media tracking programs available online at no charge, so I thought I would try out one called socialmention and see how well it worked. As the topic of this blog is the media industry, I chose to look up social media conversations pertaining to The Vancouver Sun, which is one of two daily newspapers (The Province is the other newspaper) in Vancouver, BC. Both brands are part of the Pacific Newspaper Group Inc.

Test Case of

The home page looked simple enough. It prompted me for a topic so I typed in “Vancouver Sun Newspaper” and waited a few seconds as socialmention searched cyberspace for recent related social media conversations. As the results came through, I was instantly impressed by the clean layout of socialmention. In addition to a list of recent social media conversations around my topic, it also listed following variables with a definition of each:

  • Strength: the likelihood that The Vancouver Sun is being discussed in social media
  • Sentiment: the ratio of mentions that are generally positive to those that are generally negative; this was further backed by a numeric breakdown of positive, neutral and negative sentiment conversations
  • Passion: the measure of the likelihood that individuals talking about The Vancouver Sun will do so repeatedly
  • Reach: a measure of the range of influence; the number of unique authors referencing The Vancouver Sun divided by the total number of mentions
  • Top Keywords
  • Top Users, which identified the users and their number of conversations
  • Top Hashtags
  • Sources of the conversations


Limitations of socialmention

It wasn’t surprising to find that since The Vancouver Sun newspaper is a news outlet, I was faced with a number of recent conversations that had more to do with recent general news items (some posted by The Vancouver Sun itself), rather than conversations pertaining to The Vancouver Sun specifically. I had to sort through the conversations to find some that were relevant to what I wanted.

Some posts were positive conversations about recent awards won by journalists at The Vancouver Sun and other Postmedia news outlets.


Other posts pertained to the recent voluntary staff reduction plan packages offered to employees.


black day

I began to question how socialmention rates sentiment, because the two articles above had negative connotations attached, yet were rated “neutral” on the sentiment scale. Sarcasm and nuances in conversations were not picked up by socialmention. Since rating sentiment is subjective, on socialmention it is better to read each conversation yourself to get a true sense of the sentiment factor.

How to Benefit from Social Media Tracking

I found a conversation regarding David Baines, an award-winning Vancouver Sun journalist who accepted the voluntary staff reduction plan. It linked to a farewell column he wrote to readers, looking back on his years as a reporter who uncovered numerous business scams in Vancouver.


This article prompted me to look further into Baines, so I entered his name into socialmention and found the following conversations:

More Baines

It led me to an article from, which spoke of Baines’ departure from The Vancouver Sun, and stated that, “Reports put the total layoffs at Pacific Newspaper Group at over 60 people”. The article included reaction from some people, as seen on Twitter:

Baines 3

This was followed by reaction posted on

Baines 4

After reading the article and some of the comments, I realized that some people may have thought that Baines was laid off from The Vancouver Sun and it was not his decision to leave. The truth is that it was indeed his decision. In his final column to readers, he wrote, “When the Pacific Newspaper Group indicated it was willing to buy out employees,  I put my hand up. I am 64 years old. It comes at a good time.”

This presents an ideal opportunity for The Vancouver Sun to use information that can be found through social media tracking. The Vancouver Sun could join in the conversation at or Twitter and clarify that the recent employee reduction plan was voluntary. This type of action would help The Vancouver Sun maintain its strong brand and reputation.

Overall, this experience helped me to determine that socialmention is useful, easy to understand and very fast in providing results for social media listening. I know there are many other social media tracking tools out there. If you have a favourite, please share it!

Printing Press

Newspaper Printing Press

As consumers become more environmentally conscious, our daily lives include more decisions that make an impact on the earth.

At the grocery checkout, should you ask for a paper bag or plastic bag? Or have you brought your reusable bag?

Should you bike to work, take the car or catch the bus?

What can you compost or recycle?

Here’s an environmental decision you may never have considered before: Should you read the newspaper or read the news online?

A press release from Alma Media details results from a study it carried out with research institutes. The study compared the environmental impact of its three printed newspapers versus their online equivalents. It turns out that it is difficult to compare the two mediums because they are used and evaluated so differently. As well, each medium has different environmental issues to take into consideration.

The study showed that when comparing the environmental impact based on one hour of consumption (i.e. reading the news), the printed newspaper was more eco-friendly. But when comparing the environmental impact based on total usage and consumption hours, digital news was more environmentally-friendly.

It is interesting to note that for printed newspapers, much of the environmental impact takes place before the newspaper reaches the consumer. This includes the production of the paper, printing process and newspaper delivery. Compare this to online news, where much of the environmental impact occurs during the production of the devices (e.g. laptops, tablets, mobile phones) on which the news is read.

Kudos should go to Alma Media for undertaking this study as it is now incorporating measures it can take in its two new facilities to reduce its environmental footprint. Hopefully, more news organizations will take heed. Some news organizations currently implement sustainable practises such as using recycled paper, using eco-friendly ink, and incorporating recycling efforts during the printing process. Overall, it would do the news industry some good to build awareness of these efforts and keep environmentally-conscious consumers happy.

What do you think? Do you consider the environment in your decision on how you stay up-to-date with the news?

As the digital world grows, people are changing the way they consume news and information. While some people still read the newspaper, read a magazine, listen to the radio or watch their favourite newscast on tv, more and more people using their desktop, tablet and mobile phone to find this information. This change has opened up new opportunities for advertisers, who can now deliver their online advertising messages to their target market better than ever before.

Here’s a video explaining online advertising targeting:

One form of advertising targeting is behavior targeting, which uses cookies to keep track of the websites you have visited. This allows advertisers to deliver their ad messages to users whose online activities reflect that of the advertiser’s target market. For example, if you are a new parent who has researched baby car seats online, don’t be surprised if diaper ads appear on the screen, even when you are on non-parent related websites.

Another form of behavior targeting is retargeting. For example, let’s say you are looking to book your next vacation and you have visited an airline carrier’s website to check pricing. Later, when you are visiting a different website, you are served an ad from that same airline carrier. That carrier is hoping that its ad will prompt you to make a purchase. This graphic from Matomy Market’s website illustrates retargeting well.

Matomy Market - Retargeting Illustration

Matomy Market – Retargeting Illustration

What do you think about behaviourally-targeted ads? Are they an intrusion to your privacy and you feel like Big Brother is watching you? Or do you find it convenient to have relevant ads delivered to you? Perhaps it doesn’t bother you at all.

This article by Andrea Fisherman explains how concern about behavioural targeting comes down to security and privacy issues. As consumer watchdog groups and government bodies decide how and if regulations on behavioural targeting should be put in place, many consumers try to minimize themselves from being targeted by deleting the cookies from their computer.

One thing is for sure. Behaviourally-targeted ads make advertisers happy, as they can target their message to the right people, assuring them better bang for their advertising dollar.