Here at The Small Business Authority, we are constantly watching and searching different media for chatter not just about our business but also about our industry, our competitors, and popular trends. As we become more involved, we also become more aware of how uninformed many people are when it comes to online monitoring and reputation management.
There are millions of websites to watch, making it practically impossible to catch every mention, but here are a few ways to make your monitoring easier and more effective.
- Decide where you will monitor. It is impossible to be everywhere. Pick your best hubs to follow and concentrate your efforts there.
- Decide what to monitor. Pick keywords, key phrases, and key competitors. At the bare minimum, you should be monitoring your company name, product names, key executive names, competitors’ names, competing products, industry keywords, and any current promotional taglines.
- Develop a plan. A plan may never be completely followed in social media, but it can provide guidelines and ideas.
- Use popular (and mostly free) monitoring services and dashboards. Check out Google Alerts, Google Blog Search, TweetDeck, Technorati, SocialMention, Topsy, and Postling.
- Don’t forget to monitor traditional media as well. Check online and print versions of newspapers and magazines.
Once you are searching and gathering information, you can begin to interact with consumers. Listen first, then begin conversing. Consider the culture, expression, and flow of the community you have joined before chiming in on conversations. Then, by trial and error, you will find what works best.
Every person at your company should serve as a walking brand ambassador. You hear this over and over again, but social media really is all about relationships. You don’t want to spam people with sales pitches and a constant flow of information regarding solely your company. Make sure to answer people’s questions regarding other topics and send out useful industry information that does not pertain directly to your company. Also, don’t throw out links and phone numbers unless the consumer is obviously seeking information on your specific business, product, or service.
Implementing these search tactics and managing your reputation online will lead to a healthier, happier, and more involved online community and, eventually, company.