Archive for the ‘Social Media Listening’ Category

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!