My Open Source Charity Thinktank buddy Alexandra Weldon sent out a tweet on Saturday with a link to the Wild Apricot blog, and a post on creating a dashboard that will monitor the internet in real-time. I had a look and thought that it might be a good idea to try this out to see if it would be useful for the charity I work for.
The dashboard is powered by Netvibes.com and allows anybody to set up a listening post whether you have tech know-how or not. You can set up as many dashboards following as many topics as you want and then access them all from one account. Once you register you can pick a topic that you want to follow, for example your non-profit’s name and then a standard dashboard gets created in a few steps, then you can play with it. The dashboard itself is has tabs running along the top to which you can then add lots of different widgets from the huge selection available. You can have a tab for videos, a tab for social media including Twitter and Facebook feeds, a tab for news, one for search engine results, one for RSS feeds etc etc. It’s pretty much down to you and what you want to put in there but it does take some time to pick out the right widgets for you and set them up so that you’re getting the information you need.
The real benefit of this dashboard is that you can have it as a home page tab and its constantly updating throughout the day providing you with information on your chosen topics in one place. We all know that success in social media is all about relationship building and that to truly build meaningful relationships you have to listen to the others not just “broadcast”. It is hard though to find the time to do all this when you’re not too sure of the tools and don’t have the time to sit and sift through all the information available to you online.
If you’re anything like me you probably get emails piling up in your inbox from the various google alerts you have set up for your non-profit and monitoring these as well as your Facebook page, Twitter account, blog, YouTube etc can all get a bit much on top of everything else you have to squeeze into a working day. Netvibes have come up with a way to save us a little bit of that valuable time and inbox space by keeping all that information in one handy and highly customizable place.
You can even make your dashboard public so if you wanted your supporters to be able to keep up to date with what’s happening across all your different social media outposts without having to visit each one you could set up a dashboard containing them all and then publish it and give supporters the link – I’m not at this stage yet but I can see that it might be very useful further down the line, after all a very clever man once said that it’s all about making it easy for people!
I nearly for got to mention that this great tool for setting up your listening post is FREE.
While writing this post and referring back to the dashboard I set up for Waverley Care I learned from an alert on my dashboard that the Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Gala 2010, which is put on every year by Off The Kerb in aid of Waverley Care, has been announced and is being hosted by the inimitable Kevin Bridges – something that we didn’t even know yet at Waverley Care. – That’s the benefit right there!
Photo credit: Ky Olsen