From the Principal's Office: Tracking Your Digital Footprint

4/8/2013 12:00:00 AM
I was devastated to learn a few weeks back that Google Reader was getting the ax.  I took solace knowing that many of the other Google tools that I have become quite attached to were still around.  That was until I read a tweet about Google Alerts quietly being shutdown.  I paused and then quickly realized that something was amiss, as I had not been regularly receiving my alerts.  Now I was downright frustrated.  This was the one solid solution I had at keeping abreast of my digital footprint as well as the latest news about New Milford High School.  To say I was depressed, annoyed, and angry would be quite the understatement.

My emotions were quickly put in check as my Personal Learning Network (PLN) came through as it always does.  In between cursing out loud and pounding my fists on my desk, well not really that dramatic, I saw a tweet from Vicki Davis about an alert site called Mention.  I immediately downloaded it in an effort to see if it could hold a candle to Google Alerts.  Well, I can say that not only is Mention a solid alternative to Google Alerts it is a million times better!  It allows users to monitor any keywords related to you, your brands, your schools/districts, or anything else you want to monitor.  The alert settings are much more robust than that of Google Reader.  Not only can you set it up to monitor the Web (news, blogs, videos, forums, images), but you can also have it monitor mentions on Facebook and Twitter if you want.

What is even better about Mention is the variety of ways you can access and be notified of new alerts.  Here is a quick list:

  • Website
  • Google Chrome Extension
  • Desktop Application
  • Apps for iOS and Android

Below is a listing of some of the main features taken from the Mention website:
  • Media and Social Monitoring: Monitor millions of sources in 42 languages and don’t miss anything published on social networks, news sites, forums, blogs or any web page.
  • Anti-Noise Technology: Remove the noise coming from homonyms and spam by using our in-house technology that learns from your behavior.
  • Team Work: Share your alerts with any user and assign tasks to your team members.  Ask your community manager to reply to a tweet, comment on a blog article...
  • Live Alerts: Get alerted in real-time via email and push notifications of new mentions.  Don’t waste any time.  React quickly and efficiently.
  • All Devices: Access mention from anywhere.  Use the webapp, Chrome app, desktop version for PC, Mac or Linux or mobile version with the iPhone or Android app.
  • Smart Actions: You can react to any mention the smart way.  Retweet a mention, share positive mentions directly on your Facebook page....
  • Priority mentions: Most important mentions are flagged according to several criteria: influence and authority of the source and latest interactions you had with them.
  • Statistics & Data Export tool: Get an overview of your mentions by source, language, over selected period of time, generate PDF reports or export data in CSV format to analyze them your own way.
As far as I am concerned, this is a more than adequate replacement for Google Alerts and provides a great solution to monitor your digital footprint in real-time.  With the potential demise of Google Alerts, adding Mention to your digital toolbox seems like the right move.  Do you know of any other alert-based tools with similar functions?  If so, please share as I am concerned that Mention might become a paid service after a free trial period.

cross-posted on A Principal's Reflections

Eric Sheninger is a NASSP Digital Principal Award winner (2012), PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient (2012), winner of Learning Forward's Excellence in Professional Practice Award (2012) and co-author of Communicating and Connecting With Social Media: Essentials for Principals and What Principals Need to Know About Teaching and Learning Science. He presents and speaks nationally to assist other school leaders in effectively using technology. His blog, A Principal's Reflections, was selected as Best School Administrator Blog in 2011 by Edublogs.
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