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What Are People Saying About Your Company Online?
Tracking Conversations and Discussions Online: What Are They Saying About You?
The Internet is a vast land of people with varying opinions – and lots of places that people can go to express those opinions. Keeping up with conversations you’re interested in – or that are related to your business – can be a big challenge. Fortunately, there are tools out there that make it a little easier. From free to expensive, these social media and web tracking tools help you streamline your ability to track conversations happening across the Internet. For this post, I’m going to cover some free tools that help you search for relevant conversations.
What are you looking for?
Overall, the tools can be as simple or complex as you would like to get with the information. The key is to figure what you want to discover:
- Do you want to know what customers say about you or your competitors?
- Are you looking for product feedback?
- What are you competitors doing in the online conversations? Do they have blogs or are they active on Twitter?
- Are there influential bloggers who cover your business area?
- Are you looking for people to follow on Twitter?
Using available free tools, you can do a pretty decent job of paring down conversations. All of these tools have you start your search by entering keywords that are important to conversations you’re interested in. If you have a general keyword, like “plumbing” or “insurance,” every instance of that word will be included in your results — and there will probably alot of results. Find the keywords and phrases that are relevant to your company and goals, and pare down results by adding keywords to your search:
For the plumber, words would be: plumber, your city or location, maybe your company name, a major area competitor
Free tools to track online information
Google Alerts: www.google.com/alerts
With a quick setup, Google Alerts gets you automated updates. You can set up alerts for delivery as it happens, once a day or once a week, and have it sent as an email or added to an RSS feed. You can also decide what results you want to know about: blogs, news, video, Google Groups, etc, or get a comprehensive alert. If you only want to know about blogs, you can select just blogs. Comprehensive will include results for any type of content that Google tracks, and some of it will be delayed, depending on when Google spiders, or finds it. Once you read it, you can decide what to do. Is there a blog post you have an opinion on? Make a comment. Did a competitor add a new product line to the company website? Using Google Alerts to track these website changes means you can focus on your business and track new competitive information when it happens.
Technorati focuses exclusively on searching blogs. Though some people feel that blogs are just a place for people to talk about their favorite movie stars, what they had for breakfast, and their political views, blogs have become a very important source of information for many.
Plus, there are countless blogs that drive traffic and new customers to business sites. Publicly-traded companies like Microsoft, Hewlett Packard (encourages their employees to have blogs!), and Sony have blogs to create discussions on topics important to their industry and their customers. Technorati helps you discover where conversations are happening that you’re interested in, and find out what bloggers are influential in a particular topic area.
Searching Technorati is just like searching on a search engine. Just type keywords, your company name or a topic into the search box. Or, you can search through Technorati’s categories and most popular discussions.
Twitter Search: search.twitter.com
Many people use Twitter to keep in touch and up to date on what people they are connected with are doing – limited to 140 characters. This communication platform is used around the world, and many times, its a place to find breaking news about events by witnesses on the scene. For example, when the hotel attacks in Mumbai took place in November 2008, initial reports came through people posting on Twitter. From inside the hotel, people were posting updates on what was happening and witnesses on the outside doing the same. When news breaks, most of the time the Twitter universe has it first. The challenge with Twitter is knowing what is fact. This is just another reason why you need to be listening to what is being said out there.
As Twitter is so big, it can be difficult to find conversations or people whose conversations you want to follow. Twitter Search is a simple way to search all of the topics. Find users that are talking about similar interests to your company and industry. Once you find them, join the conversation. Comment about their interests and don’t always pitch your product as that will tune people out. Continue searching with Twitter Search to find people to follow.
Do you work in an area where there’s more message board conversation than blog conversation? If you work in the health field, that may be the case. Message boards aren’t always crawled in Google, so you’ll need to use BoardReader, which tracks more message board content than anyone else. It functions like Twitter Search except that its focus is on forums and message boards. There is a dashboard that lists most popular topics and sites to start your searching.
The Internet is host to a vast array of conversations taking place in real time, from virtually anywhere. Having the tools, and time allocated, to monitor and track this information is vital to doing business in today’s hyper-connected world. To keep from letting it overwhelm you, define your goals and the information you wish to keep track of. This will guide you in the selection of which tools to utilize and maximize your time in finding out what people are saying about you.
Foster Concepts on Twitter
- #b2becommerce Article about slowdown in B2B sales and why. Not enough leads. Unknown lead sources. http://t.co/RtEjddCzha 03:28:40 PM April 19, 2013 from web
- Interesting article on a recent slowdown in B2B sales activity and why. http://t.co/RtEjddCzha 03:27:02 PM April 19, 2013 from web
- RT @ecommercemag: 'Integrated Marketing' Latest Buzzword, Critical Ecommerce Activity #ecommerce #retail #article http://t.co/hyNjHpg0O2 03:24:17 PM April 19, 2013 from web
- It may finally be eCommerce Time for #b2becommerce. New study from Oracle indicates that may be the case. https://t.co/QyUeeZNKNN 01:30:50 PM April 18, 2013 from web
- #b2becommerce Let's go marketing depts - its eCommerce Time! http://t.co/rafjLJKtHC 10:37:42 AM April 18, 2013 from web