Membership Marketing on a Budget: Monitoring your Membership Story

I usually do anything to get out of a sales call. When our administrator patches through to ask if I can take a call with John at Blue Banana / Purple Pineapple / Beyond Branding – I immediately have some very pressing meeting or call that I need to take care of. I don’t consider this rude, because I don’t work in a job where I can be ‘sold’ to, and frankly taking their call is wasting both of our valuable time. My budget is hard-won and approved nearly a year in advance, which means that when I’m looking for a new service I am very much in the driving seat, not a sales person. I need to squeeze every penny out of it and find the right solution to fit the Institute’s needs.

So I must have had a lapse in judgement when I recently took a call from an agency offering media monitoring software and I agreed to a demo…

The problem was, it was fantastic. So utterly fantastic that when we finally got to talking about numbers and a near-5 figure sum slipped onto the table, it was enough to send me to tears.  Surely there had to be a cheaper way to monitor coverage? There is. But first we need to accept that we are not going to be able to be able to see all of our media coverage all of the time. That’s what people with 5-figure marketing budgets do. But we can very come close, and here’s how.

Google Alerts

This one of the most important tool on the internet as far as I’m concerned. Google Alerts gives you keyword alerts, straight to your inbox, covering web and social mentions. This is great for monitoring both brand keywords and content distribution. The best part? It’s free. Monitor your brand and keywords unique to your campaign.


It’s really quite hard to believe that this is a free tool. Hootsuite provides a social media dashboard that allows you monitor multiple social media accounts from a single view, and distribute or schedule content to multiple accounts. A really nice feature of Hootsuite is that it allows you to monitor search queries on Twitter. This is obviously incredibly useful as it can help you monitor your brand mentions and discover links to related content elsewhere online. To use this function, add a stream to your dashboard, choose the search tab, and enter your search query.

Other great features of the free version of Hootsuite are the account overviews. For example, the Twitter Overview lets you see follower growth and most popular links. There are limitations to the free version, so upgrade to Pro for further insights like data on mentions and to add further account users.

Google Analytics

Every time I access my Google Analytics account I learn something new. It is an incredibly powerful tool for many purposes by showing you how, where and when traffic has reached your website. After any major conference or marketing campaign, the Referrals section is my go-to to find out more about online coverage. If an online source has graced you with a followed link, this is where you’ll find out about them.

Social Mention

Social Mention is a free real-time tool that works similarly to Google Alerts, but it focuses on social media mentions. With no account required, it’s free, accessible and super easy to use. Enter a search term to access mentions, sentiment analysis, related keywords, top users, hashtags and more.

Ask Your Network

Not so much a free tool but rather a piece of common sense advice – after you send out a news release, do you ask whether the story has been placed? While the Guardian newsdesk is unlikely to follow up with you after a story, it may be something you can achieve with sector-level publications through relationship-building. For example, when running any major conference for ICF, I build a page on the website where I can provide links to media coverage. I make this known in my press releases, encouraging Editors to come forward with their stories in return for a reciprocal link.

Julie Adamson is Marketing and Communications Officer at the Institute of Chartered Foresters. She has a background both in digital marketing and the third sector, having worked in fundraising, communications and marketing roles both in Dublin and Edinburgh. Julie has a Masters in Marketing from Edinburgh Napier University. Connect with Julie on Twitter @juliet_adamson

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