You have probably poured blood, sweat, tears and energy into building either your reputation or your company’s reputation. You built (or are building) a respected image and brand from scratch, made call after call to gain customers, and met person after person to become recognized and respected. This is the essence of branding – a reputation for quality, expertise, and trustworthiness in a specific industry or field. But branding has taken on a whole new dimension with the advent of social media.
Social media encompasses the conversations happening on blogs, social networks, wikis, and online media channels. Not only are these people talking about their friends, photos, road trips, and favorite technologies, they are also talking about you and your brand. These conversations, while small in most cases, can blow up into once-in-a-lifetime attention or PR nightmares. Luckily, you have the ability to seize these opportunities or respond to customer complaints in a way never before possible.
Tracking the conversation around you and your brand has never been easier, but it takes some knowledge to understand where and how to look for these conversations. Here are some of the best ways to track and react to the web conversation around your brand:
1. Understand where your customers are?
Before engaging in a comprehensive tracking campaign, understand who and where your customers are. This may seem elementary, but answering this question at the very beginning will save you and your company hours of unfocused work and headaches.
Key questions to ask:
- What is the age demographic for who will talk most about my brand?
- What websites do my customers use the most?
- What media could potentially discuss my brand? What blogs? What news organizations?
2. Use Google Alerts to track brand mentions?
There are several great tools for tracking brand mentions across the Internet. The very first one to use is Google Alerts, the popular Google tool that either emails you mentions of specific keywords on blogs and news websites or sends it to your RSS reader. Track mentions of your brand, variations on the brand name, and even your name or the name of public figures associated with the brand.
3. Watch out for Twitter mentions?
Twitter has become one of the dominant public conversation platforms. Brands are mentioned often, not always in a great light. But companies have created Twitter accounts to respond to these criticisms, thereby creating good press and quelling customer anger.
Twilert is a great tool that will email you your brand mentions on Twitter. Use it just like Google Alerts to track specific phrases and keywords. If you need the ability to track mentions of your brand in real-time however, monitter is a smart tool to use.
4. Use Yahoo! Pipes to track social media mentions?
Google Alerts and Twitter mentions don’t cover the entire social media sphere. What if someone adds your blog Digg, a social news site? That could turn into an opportunity to convert thousands of new customers. And what if someone mentions you on a lesser-known social network?
Yahoo! Pipes is a tool that allows people to combine, sort, and process news and information feeds all across the Internet. The result has been the creation of some amazing tools that can track social media mentions. These “pipes” will send updates of brand mentions to an RSS reader.
Two of the best Yahoo! Pipes for tracking brand mentions in social media include:?
Social Site Submission Watch Dog: A tool built by Internet Duct Tape that will inform you when your website (or any website) is dugg or added to reddit.
Social Media Firehouse: Social Media Firehose will check for mentions of keywords on over 3 dozen social media websites, including Digg, Technorati, YouTube, and others. It can even be customized to block certain keywords or URLs.
5. Engage your audience as necessary?
Once you have all of this information about brand mentions in your inbox, do something with it. Fix a bug people are complaining about, respond to criticism in a constructive way, start a dialogue on a blog, or join the Twitter conversation – all are good ways to be proactive.
By simply being proactive, you are helping spread your brand and keeping the brand’s image pristine. In the world of social media, people will take notice of that effort.