In a novel I was reading last night, a pop star grumbles bitterly, “They should have just left us alone.”
The brisk response: “You should have told your publicist that.”
It can be that way with your online presence. Most of our clients want greater visibility online, but reputation management can also be an issue. One of our newer clients is associated with one of those brands people love to hate, and another is soliciting reviews for his new product. In both cases, we need to be aware of what people are saying so we can respond or alert the companies.
What’s the most efficient way to keep track of what people are saying about your company?
- Google Alerts is our longtime go-to solution. At your Google account, set up alerts for your company name and the main keywords describing what you do. Any time something new is said on the web, Google will notice, and once a day you’ll get an announcement in your email listing the new mentions. A+ for convenience, but the alerts miss lots of social mentions. For large companies that get talked about a lot, you’ll end up with an enormous number of mentions to sort through, and that can mean a lot of clicking. We won’t be giving the Alerts up, but they’re not the only tool you’ll want to use.
- G+ lets you save searches with the Sparks feature. In our testing, they frankly did a pretty bad job — most company name searches sent us lots of irrelevant stuff and missed lots of mentions. At the moment, Google+ is not a useful tool for reputation monitoring.
- CoTweet and similar social media management tools let you do the equivalent of a Twitter search. If you’re there anyway, it’s handy to check, but it’s no better for monitoring the web than simply going to Twitter and searching.
- Social Mention does a good job of finding online mentions, not just at Twitter and Facebook but also at YouTube, StumbleUpon, blogs, news feeds, photo sites, and all kinds of places you wouldn’t want to have to monitor yourself. What’s more, they sort things out for you. You can see at a glance the ratio of positive to negative comments, the strength of your brand in social media, whether it’s mostly just a couple of people talking about you (inckuding yourself) or whether there’s lots of buzz, how often you’re retweeted, and more. It’s a free service, available at SocialMention.com, and we see no downside to its use.
- Klout is a tool that measures a Twitter account’s influence. We don’t find it completely reliable, but we think it’s pretty good for finding out who is important in the conversation about your company. Most of our clients are the most influential speakers about their own companies — but not all. If someone else is in charge of your company’s reputation at Twitter, you need to a) make friends with them and b) get better at Twitter. Other Twitter accounts that influence people when it comes to your reputation should be on your radar.
- Technorati is nice for blog posts about national brands or popular subjects. They don’t present irrelevant results or spam disguised as blogs, so we like them — for national brands or popular subjects. Small businesses won’t find themselves at Technorati.
- Whos Talkin had far more results for most of our clients than Technorati, and it includes Twitter and Facebook as well as blogs. Find it at WhosTalkin.com and use it for free without having to register. It won’t save your searches or send you alerts, but for a routine check in or linkbuilding purposes, it’s handy.
This list doesn’t include paid tools, because we really haven’t found any moderately priced options that seem better than the free ones. Hubspot, Radian6, Raven Tools, and CustomScoop all have their fans, but they’re all also serious investments. We don’t want to compare free tools with tools costing thousands a year, so we’ll leave these services for another occasion.
Of the free tools listed above, we’d usually suggest a combination of Social Mention and Google Alerts, but it depends on your particular company and your particular needs. The right tools for linkbuilding aren’t necessarily the right tools for building social media presence, and the right tools for reputation management aren’t necessarily the right tools for customer relationship management. Call Rosie at 318.572.6002 or email Rosamond@HadenInteractive.com to arrange for a custom strategic plan for your company.