AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators

TAG | Google alerts

Hi my name is Jayne Corso and I am the social media manager for AEA. Today, I wanted to dive into the type of content that should be shared across social media channels. Social media content should be split 20/80: 20 percent brand promotions and strong calls to action, and 80 percent should be dedicated to content that really interests your audience and engages them in conversations. So how can you master this equation? I have put together a few tips and tools to help you out!

Rad Resource: Google Alerts

Google Alerts are a great way to follow key terms, people, or organizations that’s are making headlines. You can get emails when new results for a topic show up in Google Search. For example, you can get information about news, products, or mentions of your keywords. You can set up your google alerts here:

Hot Tip: Repurpose Your Content

If your organization produces a publication, this can be a great resource for social media. Repurpose articles or blog posts by sharing this content on your social media channels. You can even look back at past issues and start a discussion around an archived topic.

Hot Tips: Share Topics, Not Actions

We often want to use social media to promote our webinars, tools, or services. Although social media is a great outlet for these messages, your audience will not be interested in your content if you keep asking them to make a purchase. Try another approach—present your promotional content as topics instead of actions. Create a conversation around the topic of your webinar or ask your audience how they overcome challenges. These types of online conversations can lead to more overall engagement.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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Good day! Susan Kistler here, AEA’s Executive Director and aea365 regular Saturday contributor. Everyone has used Google to search (ok almost everyone) but here are five items I’ve used from Google in the past month that you may not yet know about.

Hot Tip: First, in most cases, you’ll need a google account. They are free. When you go to, click on the “Sign in” link in the upper right corner – even if you don’t have an account, this will take you to where you can set one up.

Rad Resource – Google Refine: Data is messy, in particular public data sets. Google refine helps you to clean messy data and it is pretty amazing. It helps you to quickly fix inconsistencies in coding, resolve problems in mismatched data types, and reshape your data for use in other analysis programs. Best of all, it is a desktop application that you download and run on your desktop (although you interact with it through your browser) so that you need not upload sensitive data.

Rad Resource – Google Calendar: Google calendar serves the mundane task for keeping me organized, replacing my paper calendar. But it goes many steps further. I manage multiple calendars (personal, aea, aea365, and over 10 more), all of which I can show on a single interface and view or not view at will. Each calendar may be shared with others and sharing may be set to show details or just to show that you are busy at a given time.

Rad Resource – Google Tasks: This is the unsung hero of Google Calendar – an application embedded within Calendar itself. Pull up the tasks calendar and you can create to do lists, set due dates, provide details, etc – and then see all of the items on your main calendar.

Rad Resource – Google Labs: This is where you’ll find prototypes of possible future google services. Right now, they’ve got 55 experiments that you can try out ranging from shared spaces where you can collaboratively develop a mind map, to google goggles that allows you to take a picture of a place with your phone and return search results based on the picture, to public data explorer through which you can visualize and analyze large public data sets.

Rad Resource – Google Moderator: Google moderator, a google labs experiment, lets someone who will be a speaker at an event identify possible audience questions or topics and have users vote on those they would most like to see answered. Don’t quite get it? Here’s an example where you can submit questions for everyone’s favorite Sesame Street character, Elmo, to answer and vote on those you would most like to see answered.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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I’m Susan Kistler, the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director, and I contribute each Saturday’s aea365 post. The start of the year seemed like a good time to look reflectively at 2010 monitoring data for aea365.

Lesson Learned – Compile information from multiple sources: Back in May, I wrote about monitoring blog use using Feedburner and Google Analytics. What we realized is that we needed to compile the resulting data from both sources into a single place in order to examine the available information and report via a single chart. The chart below shows the subscribers (from Feedburner) and pageviews (from Google Analtyics).

Lessons Learned – Consider an average day: We wanted to gain an understanding of how people received aea365 content and how that changed over time. There were lots of day-to-day fluctuations due to the day of the week and promotional pushes, so we took a daily average for each month in order to understand the overall trend in a concrete way.

Looking across both sources of data illuminated the picture. At the close of January 2010, on an average day 148 people received aea365 by email or RSS, there were 61 visits to the aea365 homepage, and 101 internal pageviews. By the end of December 2010, on an average day 1,560 people received aea365 via email or RSS, there were 47 visits to the aea365 homepage, and 238 internal pageviews.

Our outreach efforts for aea365 direct readers (a) back to specific posts and not to the site’s homepage, and (b) to subscribe. The data and chart reflect this via the overall growth in subscribers and the more than doubling of the internal page views, yet with the unique homepage views remaining low and varying up and down from month to month.

Hot Tip – Cleaning up a chart: Yesterday, I listened in on the trial-run of Steve Fleming’s AEA Coffee Break Webinar (CBW) on Evaluating Data Visualizations. Building on his November 30 aea365 post, and using a concrete example, Steve walked through how to apply key design concepts from Edward Tufte and Stephen Few to make clear graphics that emphasize the data story. Using Steve’s design guidance and kuler to identify particular colors, I went from the default design below to the one you see above.

Steve will be giving the Data Visualization webinar on Thursday, January 20, from 2:00 – 2:20 Eastern. If you are an AEA member, it’s free to attend (register here). If you are not a member, you can join AEA or purchase a one-year CBW pass to the 30+ coffee break webinars for $80 ($30 for full-time students). The pass includes a one-year AEA membership and free access to the recorded CBWs from 2010.

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Wendy Limbert on Google Sites

My name is Wendy Limbert. I’m an independent evaluator ( and am also affiliated with Collaborative Research Associates ( . I gravitate toward research and evaluation projects related to non-profits and/or social policies affecting disadvantaged groups. I am always on the lookout for new articles and reports in my topic areas, new technology tools, and handy tips from colleagues. I’ve found it difficult at times to keep up with the seemingly constant flow of new information and resources that I come across and want to file away for future use.

Rad Resource: I now use Google Sites to set up private websites that let me store and manage all sorts of information. Google Sites is a free service that lets you create websites (you choose whether to make them public or not). No programming required – simply click your way through selecting a name, template, and theme for your site, and you’re ready to go!

For my online library, I used a blank template and added the pages I wanted. When I come across useful websites or documents, I go to my google site and add the items to my resource list or online filing cabinet. You can categorize and sort your items any way you like, making it easy to see and find what you have. And, it saves a lot of paper and filing space.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to




Susan Kistler on Google Alerts

My name is Susan Kistler, and I am the American Evaluation Association’s Executive Director. It is my pleasure to contribute each Saturday’s post to the aea365 blog. One challenge is staying abreast of what’s being said about an evaluand or about you or your practice. For me, for instance, I want to know what’s being said online about the “American Evaluation Association” as well as when people refer to “Susan Kistler” (go ahead, admit it, you’ve googled yourself). Rather than doing google searches whenever the item comes to mind, consider having google send notices to you.

Hot Tip: Create Free Google Alerts – they provide a way to receive emails containing links to new online content containing key words that you identify. A natural starting point is to set up alerts for the name of a group with which you work. However, there are multiple uses for alerts. Let’s say you are working with a group that is striving to change the way we talk about new immigrants. Two possible phrases are “illegal immigrants” and “undocumented immigrants” and this group is working to increase use of the latter. Regular alerts would allow you to understand the nature of what is being said, and to see that language change over time. For those evaluating social media and/or online communications, google alerts can be an essential part of the ‘listening’ function.

Key features:

  1. Filtering: They may be scheduled for a frequency that meets your needs, including receiving notices as they occur, daily, or weekly and they may be set to look at all sources, or just news, groups, blogs, videos, etc.
  2. Management: You can set up and manage multiple alerts, with different frequencies, terms, and scope.
  3. Delivery: Alerts may be sent to an RSS feed, or to email, a key ease-of-use function for many.


  1. Identify the key words on which you wish to set up notifications,
  2. Go to and set up one or more alerts, if using a phrase rather than a stand-alone word, put the phrase in quotes such as “undocumented immigrants”,
  3. If you set up multiple alerts, it is worth setting up a management account to be able to see and refine all of your alerts information in one place. First, set up a google account ( Then, go to the google alerts page and you will see a “manage your accounts” link

Finally, if you are not getting exactly the responses that you anticipated, refine your search using the advanced search tips found here:

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to



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