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Tools We Use for Brand Monitoring

Hello friends of Balsamiq!

We're back with more from our 5-part mini-series of blog posts about how we do marketing.

Here's the full list:

  1. The Balsamiq Mantras
  2. The Balsamiq Marketing Checklist
  3. Tools We Use for Brand Monitoring
  4. How We Do Content Discovery
  5. Tools We Use for Social Scheduling.

The next 3 blog posts are going to focus on which marketing tools we use in Balsamiq, and how we use them.

We hope this will be useful in your daily work. Let's get started!

Brand Monitoring

Brand Monitoring is scanning the web to find out what is being said about your company, your product, your service or anything else connected with your business.

Knowing what people say about us is crucial to identify opportunities for engagement and put our Mantras into practice.

One very important channel to monitor is obviously Twitter. We've used it since day one - actually, two months before day one 😉 - and we receive a lot of mentions there. But a lot of people are talking about us outside of Twitter.

In the past we used to use RSS for this, but since it pretty much died when Google killed Google Reader, we've had to look for other ways to monitor our brand.



We decided to use Mention to track any mention of our brand across the web.

We check Mention weekly for "Balsamiq", "myBalsamiq", "UX Apprentice", etc.

We also discard a bunch of links that we don't care about: license key cracks, job postings requiring Balsamiq as a skill, fake blog or twitter spam...

Going through Mention is also a great way to discover new potential candidates for case studies and customers interviews.

What we Like About Mention:

  • It finds a lot of content everywhere, even articles where Balsamiq is misspelled or not explicitly mentioned (for example, a short-link to our site).
  • It sometimes finds out old articles, and this helps us fill in some blanks in our records.
  • You can also "teach" Mention to block some sources for the future, in case they're not interesting at all.
  • The UI is pretty nice and it's enjoyable to use both from desktop and tablet or phone.
  • It's not free! This means they'll stay in business! 🙂 Here's the full pricing info.

What we'd Like to See Improved:

  • We'd like to turn off alerts for our own social profiles. We don't need to see our Facebook updates, tweets or Instagram pics in our own Mention stream.
    UPDATE: we can do that! In alert settings, we have the option to exclude our own social post. Thanks, Mention!
  • Sometimes Mention shows the same link again some weeks or months after it was published, which is confusing.


It doesn't matter if you are a social media marketer, a business owner, or a student. Sooner or later, you will face this problem: where can I collect and archive articles and links?

There are a lot of solutions to this problem; I have to admit I used to send myself emails and put them in folders (true story). Lucky for us, Peldi started to use a nice "social bookmarking" tool since the very beginning.

Back in 2008, we used When Yahoo pretty much killed it, we switched to Pinboard, and we couldn't be happier. Incidentally, Peldi is a big fan of Maciej Ceglowski, the 1-man-band behind it.


We have a huge, public repository on Pinboard, where we catalog links we've discovered thanks to Mention or here and there during our working days. Each element gets neatly categorized: reviews (even the bad ones), comments, videos, tutorials...all out in the open for the world to see.

For example, you can see all the Balsamiq Sightings we found on the web, or have some fun with this list of people who misspell the balsamic vinegar as Balsamiq, or look at our growing golden puzzle collection (more on the golden puzzle at minute 31:00 of this talk).

We also browse our Pinboard links looking for the best reviews when we need to update our Press List.

What we Like About Pinboard:

  • It's simple to use thanks to its Chrome extension.
  • It can be used by multiple people, without creating link duplication.
  • It's ugly minimalist on purpose, to make the design light and the information density high.
  • We especially like that we can add notes. We use them by copy-pasting some text: it's an easy way to keep some nice words alive, even if their web page won't exist anymore (it happens all the time.)
  • It's not free (good), and it's really cheap (very good). Here's the full pricing info.

What we'd Like to See Improved:

The Tag Autocomplete feature in the Chrome extension has an annoying usability issue. When I "pin" a link and want to add a tag, I usually type some letters and choose the right value using the arrow keys, as you can see below:


But when I press "enter", Pinboard creates a new tag "balsamiq_p" instead of assigning the selected one. As a result, I unwittingly create "monster" tags and have to clean up my Pinboard account periodically.
UPDATE: this is a user setting, you can change it. Thanks, Pinboard!

So these are the two simple and affordable tools we use to Brand Monitoring these days.

What tools do you use?

I'll show you some Content Discovery tools next week.

Francesca for the Balsamiq Team

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