Seeing what is said about you on the web

This post is aimed at people who have a business with an online component, but may not be too web-savvy. Sorry if it seems a bit basic for my usual audience of interweb geeks!

(edit: reordered Message Board and RSS paragraphs for clarity and fixed some typos, and stuck in a more link)

I attended the IIA (Irish Internet Association) conference yesterday, and found that while there was a few interesting presentations, for example Barry Meehan from Worldwide Cycles, a lot of the plenary presentations were basically sales pitches about companies, and failed to provide practical advice or realistic examples for businesses.

A central theme of the conference, and one that was the focus of Bruno Sarda of Dell’s presentation, was the concept of following the conversation, engaging your audience, and become involved with what people say about you online.

One question that was asked of the panel that didn’t really get a satisfactory answer in my opinion was “How do I see what people are saying about me online?”, so I though I’d address it here.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is probably on of the best places to start. It’s incredibly simple - just enter the topic you wish to monitor, set the type and frequency, and give them your email address. The best way to start would be to make one for the name of your company, maybe your own name if your business is built around you, and one for your website address. (You really should have a website.)

Google Blog Search

Google Blog Search is another tool for going beyond a basic Google search, and seeing what is being said about you on blogs.

Analytics

There are a number of analytics packages, for example Google Analytics and Mint that monitor your website for traffic etc. Another feature of a lot of these tools is they monitor who is linking to your website. By following these links back to their source, you can see why your website is being referenced and talked about.

Tweetscan

Tweetscan is a tool for monitoring keywords on Twitter, the very-hard-to-describe microblogging/chat application. You may find that your company is being discussed here - a lot of organisations monitor Twitter and then reply directly to people who comment about them.

RSS

Are there websites out there that frequently discuss your product or industry? You can follow a lot of different sites easily using an RSS reader (again Google do a great one called Google Reader) which should make it easier to keep track of where your company is mentioned.

Message Boards

Internet forums are a great place to see who’s talking about you - the most popular forums in Ireland are on Boards.ie. Do some research via Google and Blogs to find out what forums are popular with your customers, and search them regulary to see what is being said about your company. Be sure to read the forum’s spam policy before you reply or post comments yourself, as spamming yours company can be a sure-fire way to lose the respect of your (potential) audience. Which leads me too…

How to Respond

Goodwill and a good online reputation is something that is very easy to squander. There are a number of do’s-and-don’ts when it comes to commenting on blogs and forums and responding to criticism. The key things I would remember is:

  1. Be honest about who you are and your involvement
  2. Don’t get into a slagging match
  3. Don’t let one asshole ruin your day
  4. Don’t spam

The first thing I would advise is to consider a course in business blogging, and get professional advice on correct net ettiquette if you are serious about engaing your customers online. These is a lot of advice out there on how to comment honestly (or not), how not to spam people etc.

The important thing is honesty. Never pretend to be anyone but yourself - you will get found out and lose a ton of goodwill. If someone leaves a comment, good or bad, about your company on the internet, and you want to respond - introduce yourself! Say who you are, what your role is, address the issue, and offer a way for the commenter to get in touch with you if they wish to discuss it further.

There’s people out there who know a lot more than me about best practices for business blogging, and a lot of online resources - if you found this interesting let me know and I’ll post some more!

5 Responses to “Seeing what is said about you on the web”

  1. admin Says:

    Update from me!

    Some people on Twitter that I follow suggested using http://www.zenark.com/index.jsp and searching http://del.icio.us/ and http://technorati.com/ as well

  2. Darragh Says:

    Excellent Stu, added this to the list :) Nice one.

    Imagine not one of the “Expert Panel” even mentioned Google.

    I went up to the guy who asked the question afterwards and recommended Mulley’s blog - should have added yours too!

  3. Eamon Says:

    Great post. As Gene Simmons of Kiss advises in Ugly Betty guest appearance: I Google myself every morning

  4. Chris Says:

    Summize.com is much better than tweetscan for monitoring brand chatter. A number of vendors in the survey space are already incorporating this into their product mix…

  5. Michele Says:

    I’d second the recommendation for summize - it definitely picks up on more stuff than tweetscan

    Michele

    PS: Thanks for the mention :)

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