If you’re a marketing communications professional you may already be using interactive and online marketing tactics to reach your target audiences. Even if you aren’t, you should be monitoring conversations on the web about your brand.
It’s not just about reputation management though. Trolling the web for conversations about your brand is an opportunity to gain direct (and sometimes brutally honest) feedback about your company and its products and services.
Understanding what people are saying about your company is the best way to proactively respond to product issues, likes and dislikes, and even misinformation. Is your product working? Do people like it? Are they recommending it to others? If not, why?
Answers to these questions can be fed right back into product development, can help you assess your marketing message and in some cases, prove the need to change corporate strategy. It also helps to elevate marketing’s role beyond pushing a message and executing tactical communications activities. This kind of customer-centric thinking brings a much more strategic arm to marketing’s role within an organization.
So here are some interesting social search tools to help you monitor the web for conversations about your brand. Some you may already be using and some may be new. If you know of other tools, please share them in the comments section below.
Note: This post references tips from a recent MarketingProfs.com article by Dan Schawbel titled “Six Free Tools for Online Reputation Management“. In his article, Dan offers strategic applications (and how-to’s) for these tools so I won’t reiterate them in detail here.
Google Alerts — Google.com/alerts
Use to track news about your company, your competitors, keep tab on breaking news, etc. You can set up an alert to follow “News”, “Web”, “Blogs”, “Comprehensive”, “Video” and “Groups” categories. Results are delivered via email or you can set up an RSS feeds to aggregate results in a news reader like Google Reader.
Blog Search – Technorati.com
Technorati is a blog search engine. If you have a blog, you can create an account on Technorati so that people on the web can find you. Others can then link to your blog which helps you to track who is interested in your brand. It can also help you to build relationships with bloggers and you can use Technorati to build dialogue with bloggers who are linking to you.
Comment Search – Backtype.com
This service is new to me. It helps you to find, follow an share comments from across the web. I haven’t used the service myself so if you have, please let me know what you think.
Discussion Board Search – Boardtracker.com
Use to follow discussions about your company taking place in online forums.
Twitter Search — Search.twitter.com
Use to search “tweets” (aka posts) about your company, your competitors, news of interest, etc on the microblogging service Twitter. You can even set up an RSS feed on topics you want to follow and have the results delivered straight to you. This is a great way to find people who are talking about you and engage them in a timely manner.
FriendFeed Search — FriendFeed.com/search
FriendFeed takes all of your social accounts (blog, YouTube, Twitter, etc) and streams them in one central location. You can search and find people talking about your brand on FriendFeed as well. So aside from streaming your social media activity, you can use FriendFeed as another way to find and engage people talking about your brand.