Regardless of the size of your business, chances are good people are talking about you and your brand via social networks and blogs. In this article I'll cover four free monitoring tools to help you get started.
Getting Started: How do people talk about you?
A good place to find how people know and speak of your brand is to look at the keywords and phrases they use to find your website.
You can find these metrics in the analytics package you're using with your website. If you're not using an analytics package like Google Analytics, Webtrends or Clicky, then brainstorm keywords and phrases that you may have heard clients/customers use in discussions you have had with them.
You'll need to decide what tools you will put in your brand-monitoring toolbox. There are a myriad of tools to choose from! There are websites, applications, software and email alerts galore! That's just to name a few. Here are four free brand-monitoring tools:
#1: Google Email Alert System
You can sign up for Google Alerts quickly, easily and relatively painlessly! Using those keywords and phrases from your preliminary research, you can elect to have any instance of those keywords and phrases in combination with your brand, product or service as Google finds them online sent straight to your inbox.
For example, I work for Harrisburg International Airport (HIA), a regional airport located in central Pennsylvania. HIA knows their brand is often primarily searched for and referred to as “Harrisburg Airport,” “HIA airport” and “MDT airport.” So I'm signed up to receive Google Alerts for not only our full company name, but also the three keyword phrases listed.
Anytime Google indexes any mention in search results of the four alerts I am signed up for, I receive an email notification in my inbox. The notification is a direct hyperlink to the article, website, blog, product review, etc., wherein the keyword or phrase appeared. I can click on the link and be taken directly to the location of the brand mention.
Editor's Note: SocialMention is no longer an active online tool.
SocialMention allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product or any topic across the web's social media landscape in real time. SocialMention monitors 100+ social media properties directly, including Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google, and so forth.
It also tracks what your competitors are saying as well. It can be accessed directly from the tool's website or you can download the widget and add it to your website to have convenient access to buzz about your brand right from your blog or corporate site. Or, also available is the search plugin that allows you to select SocialMention from within your browser's search options.
It's straightforward and easy to use. You simply type the brand, product, service name or keywords/phrase into the search field, select where you would like to search the social sphere for the search term(s) you have entered and click the Search button. I recommend searching all of the categories, but if you're limited on time and resources, narrowing your search breadth and depth may be a good place to start.
Based on your search criteria, SocialMention will return all of the mentions of your brand or keyword/phrase across the web.
Within the results, you'll be provided a number of statistics, not just the instances of brand/keyword mentions. Based on SocialMention's search metrics, they'll provide you sentiment ratings, top keywords used in conjunction with your brand, top users of your brand name (those mentioning it the most), strength, passion, reach and more.
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You're able to click on the links where your brand is mentioned which facilitates a direct response to the person or party mentioning your brand or keyword/phrase.
While these provided metrics are not completely scientific, they're a good reference point for understanding the nature of the types of conversations and comments surrounding your brand.
To narrow down where you monitor your brand, TweetDeck offers you a simple way to view multiple conversations and searches from one location. You can use the dashboard in multiple locations such as laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablet.
TweetDeck is a multifunctional tool. It allows you to save Twitter keyword searches; hashtag searches; monitor your Twitter followers' tweets, Twitter lists, and @ replies; and permits you to tweet from your account(s) too. You're not just limited to tweeting with TweetDeck, you can also update Facebook profiles and LinkedIn accounts.
The power of TweetDeck and other similar dashboards like HootSuite, CoTweet or Seesmic, is the ability to see tweets (conversations, comments, feedback) regarding your brand and keyword/phrases in real time.
To monitor the blogosphere for what bloggers are posting about your brand, I recommend Technorati. It's an online tool that searches a blog directory of nearly 1.3 million blogs for all mentions of the brand or keyword/phrases that you enter in the search field.
When the search results are compiled, you have a listing of posts for perusal to again determine what kinds of product and service reviews, comments, feedback, stories and more are being shared regarding your brand.
Using Technorati for monitoring your brand via blogs allows you to post comments and feedback on the blog posts. Yet another tool that permits you to join in the conversation about your brand.
The search results you garner from Technorati blog searches can be a powerful tool in finding and building a network of blogger brand ambassadors. When you find your brand mentioned in a blog post, take the time to read it, and comment. If questions are raised about your brand, product or service in the comments on a blog post, feel free to answer the questions. Many bloggers who take the time to write about your brand will welcome your participation in the comments/conversation. Use these opportunities for involvement to build your network of brand ambassadors, as often these folks are some of your biggest fans and advocates!
These four FREE tools outlined are a small sampling of what's available for brand monitoring. There are many options, both free and paid, such as JitterJam, Vocus, Radian6 and HubSpot. They're expansive in their reporting and capabilities as monitoring tools.
When deciding which monitoring tools are best for your brand's needs, take into account all of these considerations: what, where, how and why you are monitoring.
This will help you plan for and hopefully succeed in brand monitoring and give you a roadmap for how and where to participate in the conversations about your brand in the social sphere.
What are your thoughts? What tools have you considered for brand monitoring? Are you currently engaged in brand monitoring? Is it helping you have a better understanding of how people perceive your brand, products or services? Leave your comments in the box below.
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