One of the benefits of being active of social media is the ability to monitor your brand and reputation online. And make no mistake, whether your business is on social media or not, people are likely talking about you online.

So how do you “listen” to these conversations? I’ll share some easy (and free!) methods to monitor your brand and manage your reputation online – an essential task for any business.

(There are many higher cost social media monitoring and analytic tools that can be valuable, but I believe any business should be able to do basic monitoring with one of the low- or no-cost solutions.)

Google alerts

Google is full of free tools that many aren’t aware of – Google Alerts of one of those gems. You can set up unlimited alerts for single keywords (or phrases) and Google will email you “the latest relevant Google results” based on that keyword. For instance, monitor your company name, products, competitors, etc.

Note: This is a good compilation of results based on your keyword, but I have noticed that Google Alerts don’t catch everything for a particular search term – just something to be aware of.

Twitter search

If you’re on Twitter, there are great options to monitor keywords specifically on Twitter. This allows you to find people who are talking about you or your products, even if they don’t mention your handle by name – and respond to any questions, concerns or praise they might be sharing to the Twitterverse. (As a reminder, people mentioning your brand online is a great reason you should be active on social media if you're not already.)

Though Twitter has an effective search, the easiest way to do this is to use an additional app to help you monitor these keywords. There are many options out there, but one I've had success with is TweetDeck. TweetDeck is an excellent free Twitter app that helps you manage and monitor your Twitter activity. One of the features of TweetDeck is that it lets you create and save various searches and filters (such are your brand name and products), so you can easily monitor all your keywords and respond quickly if needed.

Mention

My latest brand monitoring discovery is a service called Mention, and I’m impressed. It’s catching keyword mentions that none of my other methods caught, which is extremely valuable from a brand monitoring perspective.

You can set up keyword alerts, but in a much more sophisticated way than the other methods described. Within one alert you can choose:

  • Keywords that must be included
  • Up to 5 keywords that may or may not be included (for instance, your product names)
  • Up to 5 keywords to not include (to filter out irrelevant mentions – for instance, I always filter out words like “job” or “career” so it doesn’t pick up online job postings for the brand)
  • Language(s)
  • Forums/social sites to include or not

This helps you create very focused, effective searches. Mention will email you daily the findings for each alert you create, plus you can create reports on your overall mentions. (Mention has a free plan for 3 alerts, but it’s well worth the upgrade to $20/month for unlimited alerts, history and data export.)

For those just getting started, a combination of these solutions may be a good place to start, so you can see which solutions are catching which mentions (where there is overlap, or if you need more than one to catch all your mentions, etc.).

Business owners and marketers, what simple, low-budget tools are you using to monitor your brand and reputation online? Be sure to check out this toolkit, for a few more of my favorites.

© 2014 Alicia Olsen

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