Humorous example of social media monitoring: Sydney University

I was doing some research for my book, looking for instances of interesting social media monitoring when I came across this humorous example (thanks to BuzzNumbers).

Jonathan Pease (not sure if it’s the same Jonathan Pease who is on "Australia’s Top Model"). was apparently bored in a university classroom and wrote this tweet:


To which Sydney University replied in a tweet:


To Jonathan Pease’s credit, he took it all in stride and ended up retweeting Sydney University’s and admitting that he was "BUSTED".

The Takeaway

It’s one thing to monitor social media. It’s another to tell people you are monitoring without invoking Big Brother feelings. As you embark on more and better listening via social media monitoring, think about how you will use that information — when will you engage with people who are talking about you, and how will you do it? Sydney University did this in a humorous way with a light touch.

I’d love to hear more examples of how you have reached out and engaged people who may not have realized that you actually are listening to what they are saying. The key is how to do so without freaking them out, but instead, delighting them with the fact that you were listening and heard them.


  1. That is hysterical. Love it! Thanks!

  2. Ha! that’s a good one, thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi Charlene,
    Many people comment on Twitter that they’re watching my Techrigy SM2 videos that I made along with constructive criticism. Since we are a listening tool, we’re monitoring closely & I always respond. :)

    This is the most recent one: “I really like Techrigy @techrigy BUT you definitely need to get someone to redo your product demo, she was BRUTAL.

    My response: I’m sorry that it was so brutal. I’ll have to find someone else to do them.

    Their response:
    @cbensen I was always taught in my public speaking courses to never say UM or AH, so I picked up on that a lot. Otherwise GOOD JOB !

    We had a nice conversation.
    Let me know if I can be of help with your book project.

    Director of Community Strategy

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  5. re Twitter I have two accounts, one for my course which used to follow back automatically but which I’ve now stopped following. That’s for information exchange only. Students can send messages but I don’t read their everyday tweets.

    I also have a personal account which is locked – students can follow but they have to request, and I follow back. It’s been very useful for all sorts of reasons (networking, keeping up with their work and thoughts) and yes, the occasional bit of jokey feedback has happened as above. I’ve also been able to spot one or two students considering dropping out or having other problems. My assumption is that they know I’m reading it because of how I’ve set it up.

  6. Haha, that is a great little tale and as with all the best stories a nice moral to go with it – play nice and everyone comes out smiling.

  7. Great example – and very funny. Good thing Jonathan is a good sport – but to your point, a great example of the right way to engage people socially.
    One thing I do here at Western Union is when somebody tweets looking for an agent location I’ll reply with a link to our agent finder as soon as I’m able. If they’re very specific with their location, I’ll do a search for them, but that is only in rare cases.

  8. I often do response Tweets along that vein with our @Teleflora account. Recently saw a guy tweeting about the Teleflora Wizard of Oz bouquet (without @ messaging us on it) so I responded asking him how he liked it. We had a good conversation following that. :)

  9. Hi readers, Charlene is heads-down working on her book, but FYI we will be pulling her out for an evening next Mon night to speak to us at an HBS alumni club event. I’m sure we’ll hear great stories like this one and more. For those in the Bay Area interested in attending, the event link is here:

  10. What is Twitter and How Can I Use It?

  11. Wrote a review of a business on Yelp and within 24 hours had a note from one of their managers… I was damn impressed and thanked them for reaching-out. Far from being “Big Brother” I was really impressed at their attention.

  12. I wonder if @Sydney_Uni even knows who this “Rooney” is. Would be sad if they were blind to social/cultural context in pursuit of “social media monitoring”.

    Really hoping they do get the inside joke, of course.

  13. In this case it was OK for them to act like Big Brother.

  14. We use the search functions on Twitter to monitor mentions of the core product we sell – Livescribe (we’re @smartpen).

    We focus on identifying where people in Australia or New Zealand might be talking about it or looking for information. We reach out and politely say hi and offer help.

    We’ve spooked a few people but in the main we get very positive feedback and we’ve had some very funny exchanges with users (like two users in their own little Bold and the Beautiful/Gone with the Wind world and referencing the Livescribe Smartpen)

    Our rule is we Tweet them once only and if they don’t respond we don’t either.

  15. Great one! Hilarious – I want to share another funny one from Jetblue Airways.
    Check it out!

  16. Funny. So, if I want to monitor conversations that may be going on about my company or what we do, is there a tool that easily allows me to do that and monitors across multiple social networks? I’d very much like to be a part of them.

  17. This is not such a humorous example, but is an example of the fact that you cant use Twitter to have a moan about work:

  18. I shared a link on twitter to a picture of a firefox crop circle and wondered if it was a hoax. @firefox replied later saying it was not a hoax and attached a link to a video showing how a group of students got together to make the crop circle. :)

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