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The beauty of the internet is that almost everything in the public domain is searchable. This means that when it comes to tracking your online reputation, all you have to do is head over to Google and tap in your name.
The problem is, you’ll probably also want to search for your company name(s), product name(s), URL(s), and the names of any key personnel. What’s more, different search engines pick up different results, so you’ll need to perform multiple searches to avoid missing mentions. Suddenly, this simple task becomes a bit of a drag.
Here are seven free tools to simplify the task of monitoring your online mentions.
Search engine alerts
Track mentions of keywords in news, websites, blogs, videos and groups with Google Alerts. Set alerts to be sent by email either daily or ‘as-it-happens’ (meaning it hits your inbox as soon as it’s indexed by Google). Alternatively, you can create RSS feed to track from inside your favourite reader.
Bing offers much the same functionality, but for news only. Head to Bing News and select ‘News alerts’ from the bottom of the left hand column. For the same service from Yahoo!, visit Yahoo! Alerts and choose ‘Keyword News’ from the box on the right.
Blogpulse indexes blogs and helps pick up mentions you might not have spotted via the standard search engines. Just search for your key term and then hit the XML icon at the top of the search results to create an RSS feed. You can also search for all posts linking to your site by choosing ‘URL’ in the search options.
Blogpulse won’t pick up everything, so again it’s a matter of combining this with your other tracking efforts. Try Icerocket, which also offers an RSS feed.
Social media monitoring tools
There a dozens of free tools out there for monitoring social media mentions. My favourite at the moment is Social Media Alerts from Social Mention. It searches through over 100 social media platforms such Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google and delivers daily results by email. Searches via the main site will also give you a sense of sentiment and reach, and tell you which users are driving the conversation.
If you want to monitor the number of click throughs on a link you have tweeted, use the Bit.ly shortener service and from their site you can view analytics for clicks of links within your tweets.
Have I missed any great free tools? Let me know.
While there have been many horror stories about how damaging negative publicity can spiral out control there is a school of thought that says any publicity is good publicity. The fact that your business is getting any media attention (albeit negative) is good as it raises you profile and is better than not being talked about.
I work for Empica PR and we have been involved in managing publicity for a controversial ad campaign by the heath and fitness club at Cadbury House. With so many people wanting to lose weight following the festive period theclub's marketing agency launched an integrated campaign in the first weeks of January to inspire people to join. It focused on an image of an alien with the tag line 'When the aliens come they will eat the fatties first' and was used across newspaper advertising, banners, leaflets and poster sites.
From a PR perspective we at Empica recognised this issue could be controversial though we could not predict exactly how it would unfold. We were keen to create discussion to increase exposure for the campaign. As it happened several people complained about the ad being offensive and discriminatory to over-weight people. The local press picked up on the complaints and carried our official statement from Cadbury House telling our side of the story and how it was meant in good humour – although with shock tactics aimed at those who had over-indulged at Christmas.
Often when a negative story appears the PR agency works hard to keep coverage to a minimum, in this case we positively encouraged it to snowball. It appeared in the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and on BBC radio. Now we had a story running we used online techniques to encourage debates about the pros and cons of the advert with bloggers. At this point we were being contacted by Sci-fi sites in the USA and gym manager Jason Eaton was even interviewed on Australian radio station, 4BC!
The ad campaign sparked one complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority – who dismissed it out of hand; most people joined the debate taking the advertisement as it was intended – as a piece of good natured humour. There were hundreds of comments online with people expressing there opinions. Our stance was it certainly was not meant to offend and the fact it features an Alien shows it was tongue-in-cheek.
As part of the overall strategy I also launched a social media strategy involving Twitter and Facebook to maximise publicity online. Part of this included a competition over Twitter where they gave away free memberships to the first 25 retweeters. The memberships went within the hour.
Social media gave this campaign a whole new dimension and certainly assisted the propagation of it worldwide. It provided another avenue for people to share their opinions about the issue and contribute to the discussion. Although certain aspects of the campaign were planned, we believe the real value of social media is to act fast and take advantage of opportunities.
This campaign is still growing and evolving. An initial seed was sown resulting in some negative publicity but the story continues to provide 'food for thought' as you can see from the video below.
Marketing Donut will be bringing you live blog coverage of the second Like Minds conference on Friday 26 February. In this, the second interview in our Like Minds mini-series, Olivier Blanchard (OB) explains what the Like Minds theme of “people-to-people” means to him.
Why does social media need small businesses?
OB: Firstly, the vast majority of businesses around the world are small. If only large, enterprise space companies adopt and integrate social media, we will never see the kind of broad adoption in the business world that will truly bring about the next evolution of B2C communications.
Secondly. small businesses tend to innovate faster than large ones. In terms of innovative uses and integration of social media, as well as the development of new social media tools and applications, the small business community is already doing most of the heavy lifting. Remember that pretty much every social media platform in existence today, from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to Radian6, Scoutlabs and Seesmic started out as small businesses.
What is your take on the theme of “people-to-people” for this year’s event? Will it be a lasting business culture change?
OB: Yes. People are wired to communicate, share ideas and align themselves with the communities they relate to. The very nature of "social" finds its roots in community. The evolution of communications technologies, especially in the real-time digital space, has already eliminated the 20th century's notion of “six degrees of separation”. We have now shifted to “three degrees of separation”, solely through the social web, as LinkedIn illustrates.
Now that people have adopted these technologies, there is no turning back. People are connected to real-time information today like never before, and thanks to mobile, that link has shifted from the desktop to the pocket. Facebook, Twitter and a number of other online social networks help connect people to information, to each other, and to markets 24/7, regardless of where they are. As businesses learn to interact in this real-time P2P culture, both they AND their customers will learn to rely more and more on this type of instant communication. Barring a technological or cultural cataclysm, there is no turning back now: technology has taken P2P from physical face-to-face to digital face-to-face, breaking down geographic, time-zone and socio-cultural barriers, and facilitating not only communications but commerce. The ball isn't likely to roll backwards.
What can we expect from you at Like Minds People-to-People?
OB: Clarity. What I hope to convey to the audience at Like Minds P2P is first and foremost a clear vision and framework for properly integrating social media in their business or organisation, from strategy and multi-silo planning to layered management and rich measurement. There's a method to integrating social media and P2P in the enterprise, and I will focus exclusively on that.
Olivier Blanchard is a social media expert blogger and strategist. He manages the Brandbuilder marketing company and advises on brand strategy in order for firms to adapt to integrating traditional and new media marketing techniques.
Sponsorship, once a symbol of corporate excess, is now finding its place within the business world—especially in the digital sector, where sponsors know how to best maximise ROI from these channels. By its nature sponsorship creates ideal digital marketing opportunities. It has the flexibility to provide platforms for brands to create exclusive content and online experiences as well as being able to engage directly with their audience.
Marketers are desperately searching for new and economical avenues to create stronger relationships between their brands and target audiences. One avenue that’s resurgent is sponsorship, which is proving a powerful way to engage with consumers while cost-effectively growing the business at the same time – a win-win situation for all involved.
For example Silverpop, a U.S.-based organisation that provides worldwide Web-based solutions, signed up to exclusively sponsor the 2010 DMA Digital Tracking Study. This partnership has provided Silverpop with a sought-after tool to reach out to the top marketing professionals in the UK, a market that they are developing. Additionally, this has helped the DMA to provide the latest research to its members.
Although partnerships are not a new theory, strategic business sponsorships can be new territory. However, providing they fit, they can be immensely successful. As digital marketers are usually first on the starting block I anticipate this trend will continue to grow across other sectors for those companies looking for more cost-effective and engaged marketing.
If you aren’t part of the digital sponsors who make up more than 50% of the total sponsors at the DMA, you might be wondering what you are missing.
One of my all time favourite films of the last ten years is the futuristic action movie Minority Report. I remember watching in fascination as our hero John Anderton passed through a shopping centre of the future. The whole sequence was brilliant. Billboards and advertising changed as people walked past, tannoy systems in shops welcomed you back and asked how your last purchase was working out. It was both a scary and tantalising view of the future.
Minority Report was released in 2002 and only eight years later Augmented Reality (AR), the blending of the real and virtual world, has exploded into popular culture. Some of the highlights include iPhone apps that use the camera to overlay directions to your nearest Starbucks, and interactive kiosks demonstrating yet to be manufactured products at trade shows. For business in general, and retail in particular, it seems that the opportunities are endless.
I have a t-shirt at home with a slogan "RL has rubbish FPS". Translating, this means that real life isn't as good as virtual. Sadly my t-shirt is right, the real world is still light years away from the possibilities of Minority Report. Where are the interactive billboards? Where is the personalised voice?
However, with smart phone adoption going stratospheric, developers are finding new ways to supplement real life. For retail, my current favourite augmented app is Google Goggles. Goggles allows you to take a picture of a product, logo or landmark and look it up on the web.
Surfing the web via real life items is a revolutionary concept. Not only will this allow you to look up online pricing while arguing with the sales person in your local garage, but it also means that you can discover more about the sculpture and its creator while on a museum trip, just by taking a photo.
The ecommerce world is getting in on the act too. Several major online clothing companies are rolling out the "Magic Mirror" feature. It allows you to try clothes on via your webcam from the comfort of your own home. This Christmas Hugo Boss also trialled an impressive online and offline marketing campaign based around a game of blackjack, using both the real tangible items and virtual pixelated content. And we’re just at the start of the possibilities.
Why don't you see for yourself and give one of the following augmented experiences a go:
I am not yet expecting my embarrassing shopping habits to be blurted out over a loud speaker as I walk into Tesco. But some aspects of the future have definitely arrived already. Brace yourself for the ride, it’s going to be exciting.
Marketing Donut will be bringing you live blog coverage of the second Like Minds conference on Friday 26 February. To whet your appetite, we caught up with the social media conference organiser, Scott Gould, to find out more about his Like Minds journey and what to expect at the forthcoming event.
How did Like Minds come about?
SG: It started when Trey Pennington and I arranged a meet up when he was over in the country. He suggested we start a "social media club" in the style of what he'd been doing across the United States. I got to work on the idea with Andrew Ellis (who became my partner in Like Minds) in August 2009. Andrew challenged me to make the event highly accessible and affordable rather than expensive and exclusive, with the idea of reaching a wide range of people who were also thinking with an eye on innovation. Hence the name, Like Minds.
What did you take home from the first Like Minds event which focussed on ROI?
SG: It takes investment in the first place to ensure a return on investment. Then you've got the work of social media, engagement, policies, guidelines. And measuring all of this is no 'one tool fits all'. It takes work and careful analysis to have measurement that is meaningful. All of this is effort.
Of course to core business activities, this is how things have always been. But there's this misconception that social media is free and easy. It isn't.
How will Like Minds 2010 format be different from the first event in 2009 (workshops etc)?
SG: We've worked hard to bring multiple ways to get inspired, to learn and connect with each other into one event. Whilst we still have keynotes and panels, like we did last time, we've first of all been able to welcome speakers and panellists who are world class leaders in their respective industries.
We have then created an innovative lunch time workshop format in partnership with local restaurants that allows delegates to talk over specific subjects with our speakers. This means they get workshop time with these experts to get first-hand integration advice. Integration is a big focus for us this year, hence we are also holding free workshops hosted by our sponsors during the week leading up.
You pride yourself on the low ticket price. If that isn’t enough to convince a small business to attend, what is?
SG: Yeah we're proud about the price, but even more proud about the incredible line-up of people we have coming. Our keynote speakers and panelists consist of a range of backgrounds, cultures, industries, sectors and experience. We have the world foremost social media thought leader speaking, Chris Brogan, and two other top ten social media bloggers and Orange's head of internet.
Then when it comes to networking and lunchtime you'll find out how many incredible and successful people are just coming to attend. Some of the delegates flying in from America and Europe are worth the ticket price just to meet.
The theme for this year is People-to-People — tell us more about this.
SG: Social media have introduced a more personal form of business communication, which is replacing the anonymous corporate communication that has tended to prevail hitherto. Thus, the lines between the organisational voice and the individual voices of representatives of organisations have become blurred – to a large extent it’s now the individual voice that prevails. B2B, B2C, consumer, prosumer and owner forms of communication now follow a more socialised model; collaborating and conducting business in a way that is fundamentally different to ten years, and even five years ago.
Understanding this is vital. We have keynote speakers and panellists talking from such a wide range of experience and expertise that most business types and sectors will be covered at the conference.