HOW TO: Set up a free online monitoring system
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The question I get asked most frequently, “How do you monitor what is happening online?” I’ve compiled a list of the tools I use when on a tight budget. These are FREE tools (in five relatively easy steps) available to help you get a handle of your online presence.
STEP 1: Set up Google Alerts
Think about every term you need to monitor as part of your communications and public relations efforts. This may include:
- The company name
- Company CEO and/or executive team
- Company spokespeople
- Highly visible employees
- Key stakeholders/shareholders/investors
To get the most accurate search, try adding quotation marks around your search terms. For example, if your company name is often abbreviated or shortened try a search like “ACS” “American Cancer Society.”
Select “comprehensive,” “as it happens” and “up to 50 results” to garner the most thorough results.
STEP 2: Create a digital dashboard
I recommend a web-based platform like Addict-o-matic. It pulls in online mentions across platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Bing, FriendFeed, etc. It’s an easy way to take a quick look at where you’re being mentioned online.
TIP: Bookmark the page and refer to it daily.
TIP: You can rearrange the tabs to create a custom view and add additional sources under “available sources.”
STEP 3: Track social networks
If you’re active on social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin (among others) it can become overwhelming to update and monitor them regularly. I recommend setting up Hootsuite and Tweetdeck (along with the iPhone apps) to manage syndication, schedule tweets and gather Twitter analytics. Both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are applications that are based off of Twitter, so they limit updates to 140 characters.
If you’re looking for additional ways to analyze Twitter, check out oneforty’s list.
UPDATE #1: Find and analyze your influencers and competitors and track success with Twitalyzer. It’s the most sophisticated Twitter analytics tool available and it’s free. Plus, it integrates with Google Analytics (it’s the only Twitter analytics tool to do that) as well with Bit.ly. It also has a nifty Firefox plug-in that will let you see your most influential connections at a glance. Submitted by @CarriBugbee.
STEP 4: Gather information and benchmark data about your blog or Web site
Set up Google Analytics and review your web stats and check out what Quarkbase and Compete reveal. It’s up to you how you document your findings. I keep a spreadsheet, updated monthly, of my analytics so I can review trends and other data important to me. (I also use Technorati to round out my research.)
STEP 5: Find out who is talking about you, your blog and site
Google Alerts may not pick up every blog mention of your keywords. That’s where Nielsen’s BlogPulse comes in. I use this tool daily for myself and clients. The site includes a run down of hot topics on the web (although you can also use Google Trends), what news outlets bloggers are sourcing and other stats.
Find out if you (or your company) are being tagged in online videos via Google Video search. Don’t forget that people can refer to you on forums and discussion boards, you can use BoardTracker to help.
TIP: Set up the Blogpulse Conversation Tracker to monitor blog comments and set up a feed.
TIP: Make sure no one has taken your brand name online by checking name availability via Knowem.
Remember, you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for comprehensive online monitoring, check out one of these providers:
- Radian 6
- Webtrends Social Measurement
- Collective Intellect
- Techrigy SM2
- KDPaine & Partners
So, what did I miss? What do you use to monitor your brand online?