Monitoring your online presence for free
Online business today is a two-way conversation, and you can’t participate unless you know what discussions are going on online.
There are some great free tools to monitor your online presence. Most of these require a few minutes to set up and then a few minutes per day to monitor. There are some that you can use once a month to track how your online brand is over time.
Setup an RSS reader
An RSS reader aggregates web content such as news, blogs, and online searches in a single location for easy viewing. A reader helps you view new information from all the sites and searches you choose on one page. You can set up a web-based aggregatorto read Atom and RSS feeds online or offline and either send you an email with the results, or create a page that displays the latest posts and news in your selected feeds.
Google Alerts let you monitor the web for new content. Just enter the search terms you’re interested in following and how often you want updates and you can monitor any word or phrase. You should set up Google Alerts on your company, your brands, keywords, your competitors’ companies, your key employees, and influencers in your industry. You can get updates via email or add the RSS feed of your Google Alerts to your RSS reader.
Assess the quality of your online presence
There are a range of free tools that can analyze the quality of your online brand. Use Twitter Grader, Facebook Grader, and Website Grader to get a free analysis of how your pages rank compared to others. You can run these analyses once a month to see how changes you make to your site, pages, and online conversations improve your ranking.
Monitor in real time
Use software such as Hootsuite to monitor online conversations in real time. Hootsuite lets you monitor @mentions of your accounts, searches on keywords and names, and activity by your online connections. You can also discover trends in real time, and respond to issues, requests, and mentions quickly and easily.
Visit your LinkedIn home page to see who has visited your profile, read status updates from your connections, and answer any messages you’ve received. Visit groups you’ve joined to see what kinds of discussions are going on.
LinkedIn Answers lets you ask and answer industry-specific questions. You can subscribe in an RSS reader to all the questions in a category relevant to your company and your customers. You can keep track of the kinds of problems your customers have, answer questions to show your expertise, and follow discussions in your industry.
Look at your company’s Facebook page stats and activity using the View Insights link on the pages you manage. Scan your fans and page views count. Visit your Facebook company page (or personal profile if you use it for business) and answer any questions or address comments that visitors have made on your page. If you are a member of a group, check to see if any interesting new discussions are going on.
Twitter searches are feeds of search results of keywords, brands, companies, people, and #hashtags on Twitter. Be sure to search for @mentions of your company Twitter accounts. The results are almost instantaneous and allow for time-critical monitoring.
The ongoing buzz about your company
Sites such as Social Mention and Addict-o-matic show you the buzz on your company across a wide selection of social networks. Topsy lets you search terms on Twitter over the past 6 months (Twitter’s search only goes back about a week).
Use the information you find
Keeping track of your company online can give you the ability to spot issues before they become problems, find opportunities in your marketplace to grow your business, and build a reputation as an expert in your industry. Responding to people that mention you or your competition can help you win new customers and build relationships in your industry.
Six Revisions has a comprehensive list of monitoring options in “12 Social Media Monitoring Tools Reviewed.”