If you’re going to participate in the social media space, monitoring for online mentions is the essential first step. Before you start building strategies and figuring out creative and snazzy ways to "go viral", you’ve got to listen to find our what your brand advocates and detractors are saying.
I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t cost a cent to get started and through the wonder of RSS it only takes a few minutes to get yourself set up.
Start with a quick brainstorm of all the relevant key words for your brand. In addition to your brand name, generate a quick list of your key executives and company spokespeople. Next, list competing brands and related key words and names. You know your brand inside and out so consider and issues relevant to your business that you’re tracking. Finally, are there industry or vertical keywords that are relevant?
Next, get yourself set up with a feed reader. There are many, many options and folks tend to get pretty passionate about their favourites. You’ve got to decide what works for you. You can download a program, read feeds inside your desktop email client, or opt for a web-based and/or mobile service. I use Fastladder for monitoring. It is fast, bosses around a large number of feeds really well and includes handy browser buttons for Firefox.
Now comes the time to test your keywords by running some searches. The first stop is Google Blog Search.
Now you’re going to prune your list and modify your search queries so they yield the most accurate results. Once you’re satisfied, subscribe to the RSS feed of that search query using your feedreader. (Take a look at this Common Craft video for instructions if you’re not sure how).
Repeat this step for your entire set of keywords.
I monitor keywords across multiple search tools. Often different search tools (with different search algorithms) pick up different results. Lots of times, you will end up with duplication. As you read your monitoring feeds, you’ll continue to edit your search terms and add additional feeds.
Other Search services I use include: Twitter Search, Technorati, and Ice Rocket. Again, there are a lot of options out there. Just this week, I found out about Social Mention.
Once you’re set up and monitoring the real fun begins – online reputation management, blogger relations, community-building – it all starts with listening.