I felt OK. I got out of bed, fed the dog, and logged on to check my email. After deleting the irrelevant ones (which was most of them) I clicked on my “alert email” from TalkWalker, only to discover that I had died.
Well, OK, it wasn’t really me, but the email contained a notification of an obituary for someone else with my name. Yes, there are other Ken Muellers in the world.
I posted about my untimely demise on Facebook, and my friend Lynne asked:
“You keep your name on a Google Alert?”
Well, yes. I do. Or, I did. That is until Google announced they were sending the alerts packing, along with some of their other products, like Google Reader. But I’ve done that for years. And I’m not alone.
This is called brand monitoring, and it’s the one of the most important things any business or person can do. While I no longer use Google Alerts (and quite frankly, that product wasn’t working very well anymore), I do use TalkWalker, thanks to a recommendation from Gini Dietrich at Spin Sucks.
Oh, I don’t just monitor my own name. I have alerts set for my business name, the business name’s of my clients (and some of their competitors), as well as various important industry search terms for myself and my clients.
It’s through monitoring, or listening, that you learn what people are saying about you, both for better or for worse. It’s how you can learn about what you are doing right or doing wrong. It’s how you can learn what your competitors are up to.
In short, monitoring your brand can provide you with all sorts of useful information to help you with marketing, sales, PR, customer service, HR, and research & development. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Those TalkWalker alerts that I get in my email throughout the day are just one of the tools you can use for listening, because no tool will catch everything. Others include:
Twitter searches and lists (that you can use to create columns within Hootsuite or other Twitter clients)
Your social properties – This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare, you better be paying attention to what people are saying there. Or not saying.
Review sites – Sites like Yelp, Urban Spoon, and the like are great resources for finding out what your customers think. Just make sure you wear your thickest skin. And claim your listings on those sites while you’re at it.
Brand monitoring apps – There are a ton of these that range from free to pretty darn expensive. Most small businesses and nonprofits will want to go for the free ones. Rather than reinvent the wheel, here’s a list of 10 Free Brand Monitoring Tools, another of Ten Must Have Free Tools for Brand Monitoring and Reputation Management,
Surveys – Then of course you can be proactive and seek out opinions. Good ol’ fashioned surveys might just do the trick, if constructed properly and distributed to the right people.
Search engine searches – Apart from the alerts, do regular searches in the search engines, as well as specialty searches of blogs, and more. Alerts and other tools don’t always turn up everything. In fact, just this past week, a combination of alerts and a Google search turned up some information about a client that has the potential to cause some problems. But because we are monitoring the brand online, we are aware of the situation, and can prepare for any potential fallout.
Another client, while monitoring their brand on Twitter, noticed a local blogger badmouthing them. During the ensuing public conversation, the individual admitted to not even having tried my client’s product. My client invited the person in, in exchange for an honest review on his blog if he enjoyed it, which he did. Proactive monitoring and engagement turned into some good press for my client.
So, yes. I do monitor what people are saying about me and my business. I monitor what is being said about my clients. I see the good and react accordingly. I see the bad and determine whether adjustments need to be made (or if they are merely the work of trolls and bullies).
Remember, you might need to filter through the results. Since I’m not the only Ken Mueller on the planet, I get all sorts of interesting results. But I also find instances of when my online work is being stolen or “borrowed” by others. And it can be funny at times. Don’t just rely on tools, because they might give you skewed results. You need to read through your findings and conduct your own sentiment analysis to separate the good from the bad.
But by all means, start monitoring your brand online.
Oh, and I’m still very much alive, thank you.
What tools do you use for monitoring what others are saying about you online?
- Are Google Alerts Dying? (mashable.com)
- Pinterest Tools: Why You Should Give PinAlerts A Try (v3im.com)
- Local Search: 1 in 2 Businesses Have Outdated Online Listings (v3im.com)
- People Are Talking About Your Brand [And Not In A Survey] (v3im.com)
- 6 Ways to use Google Trends for Your Business (inklingmedia.net)
- Is Social Media a Priority for Your Small Business or Nonprofit? (inklingmedia.net)