Monitoring your brand online

Stethoscope

“If you care about your customers, your product, or your reputation, you must monitor your brand online.” – Me, 2012

If you are responsible for a brand of any size, people are talking about their experience with you, your products, or your services. These conversations aren’t all public, but many of them are and you need to be aware of them. At a minimum. Facebook wall posts, blog comments, tweets, and LinkedIn Questions can give you great insight into what your customers’ (or potential customers’) wants and needs.

Where should I look?

Your home turf

It is always disheartening as a customer to post a comment on a business blog or fill out a contact form, and have it be ignored. This happens far too often, and is such an easy way to alienate current and potential customers. Engage your customers – they took time to come to your site and interact with you!

Social networks

Twitter is especially easy to monitor, but you should have a pulse on any network where your fans/followers/customers are conversing. I strongly believe ALL direct messages, mentions, and wall posts should be responded to, unless the person posting clearly does not need a response. Dead air is a negative brand impression!

Blogs, forums, groups

There are many places for conversations to happen, and you’ll need robust tools to find them because not everyone will mention your Twitter handle or write their comment on your page. You know your audience best, so be active on technical forums or industry sites that contain conversations that you or your company care about. Be a subject-matter expert in your field. Provide value – and do it for free.

How do I find conversations/posts?

If you had 143 hours per day, you still couldn’t visit each site you could be mentioned on and interact meaningfully. Machines can’t handle the interaction, so let them do what they are good at: searching for content! I use the following tools to keep a pulse on the digital world (a lot of the same ones from my Find interesting content on Twitter post):

  1. Google Alerts – get an email instantly or daily/weekly when someone posts about your saved search
    Google Alerts
  2. Twitter Searches – search for realtime posts about your topic/brand, and save these searches for re-use
    Twitter Search
  3. Track topics/keywords on blogs, social networks, and more with SocialMention.com (IceRocket.com is similar, but not as powerful, IMO)
    Social Mention
  4. Follow topics on Quora – you’ll find a surprising depth of knowledge shared here by experts…shouldn’t you be the expert in your field? Answer some questions!
    Quora

What do I need to pay attention to?

This is a tougher question, and will vary by industry/company/cause. At a bare minimum you should search for your brand name, and probably key product names as well. After a while, you can get more sophisticated and search for problems your product or service solves (e.g. a search for “back pain Atlanta” may turn up new customers for your chiropractic office who don’t even know they need you…yet!).

Pro tip: With most search engines, including Google Alerts and Twitter Search, you can create advanced queries like “back pain” OR “best chiropractor” OR “need an adjustment” AND Atlanta that will search for any one of those three phrases plus the word “Atlanta.”

Have any experience doing this for your company or your own name? I would also love to hear from users of power tools like Radian6, Wildfire, or Vocus.

 

Photo by Benjamin Golub