Top 10 Free Tools for Monitoring Your Brand’s Reputation

by Kathy Dragon on January 21, 2009

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From Mashable

Dan Schawbel is the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, and owner of the award winning Personal Branding Blog.

Brand monitoring has become an essential task for any individual or
corporation. Years ago, when people talked about our brands, it was
behind our backs and we almost never found out about it. Today, most of
these dialogues are right in front of our own eyes and the number of
locations where our brands may be cited is astronomical!

We must remember that conversations are being held on the web with
or without our consent. That means we can choose whether to be
observers, participants or outcasts. Before you select observer or
outcast, remember that these conversations can have a negative impact
on your brand. Also, when conversations start on the web, like a forest
fire, they travel very fast and wreak havoc along the way; what might
start out as a mere tweet, may turn into a blog post and then make
national news.

Here’s a basic reputation management system that I’ve been using, as
well as a list of the top 10 free tools you can start using today.


How to Begin


Depending on how popular and well-known your brand is, there may be
few or many people talking about it. If you’re looking to start a blog,
position yourself as an expert or start networking actively in your
desired topic area, then listening is an important research routine. As
you become more well-known, more conversations will be held around your
brand name, so you’ll spend more time listening and possibly responding
to blog posts, tweets, etc. If you’re a large and popular company, you
may need to hire someone to manage these monitoring tools daily.

The first thing you need to do is acquire a feed reader. I personally use Google reader because it’s easy to sort feeds, bookmark/favorite them and share (give value) them with your network.

I would also register for a Delicious account,
which can help you sort and organize blogs that mention your brand.
Think of Delicious as your own research and development plant. Once
you’ve set up these two accounts, the following tools will help you
locate articles that mention your brand, feed them right into your
central hub (Google reader) and allow you to manage them (Delicious).


1. Google


Google Alerts
are email updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your
choice of query or topic. You can subscribe to each alert through email
and RSS. The alerts track blog posts, news articles, videos and even
groups. Set a “comprehensive alert,” which will notify you of stories,
as they happen, for your name, your topic, and even your company. Yahoo! Pipes is also a good tool for aggregating and combining feeds into one central repository.


2. Blog Posts


technorati

If you have a blog, then you have to be on Technorati,
which is the largest blog search engine in the world. They say that if
you don’t claim your blog in Technorati, then you don’t own it! When
you register with it, Technorati tracks “blog reactions,”
or blogs that link to yours. Search for your brand on Technorati, and
subscribe to RSS alerts so that when someone blogs about you, you find
out.


3. Blog Comments


Backtype is a
tool for monitoring blog comments. If people commented on various blog
posts, citing your name, you never used to have a way of tracking it,
until now. Backtype is a service that lets you find, follow, and share
comments from across the web. Whenever you write a comment with a link
to your Web site, Backtype attributes it to you.

Use it to remind yourself where you commented, discover influencers
who are commenting on blogs that you should be reading, and continue
conversations that you started previously. You can even subscribe to
these comments using RSS. coComment is another tool that will help you manage your comments across the web.


4. Social Comments


Yacktrack
lets you search for comments on your content from various sources, such
as Blogger, Digg, FriendFeed, Stumbleupon, and WordPress blogs. For
instance, if you comment on a blog, you can locate other people who are
commenting on that same blog post and rejoin the conversation.

My favorite feature of this tool is the “Chatter” tab, which allows
you to perform keyword searches on social media sites and then notifies
you of instances of your brand name. Yacktrack’s search page results
also give you an RSS feed for the search term. You can also use Commentful and co.mments to track your social comments on the web.


5. Discussion Boards


Along with blogs and traditional news stories, discussion boards are
another channel where people can gather in a community and talk about
you. Most people disregard discussion boards until they see other sites
commenting on information viewed on them. Use boardtracker.com to get instant alerts from threads citing your name.

Boardreader and Big Boards are other tools that work similar to this one


6. Twitter


twitter-search

Twitter messages (tweets) move at the speed of light, and if you don’t catch them they will spread like a virus. Using Twitter search,
you can locate any instances of your name and decide whether you want
to tweet back or ignore them. It really depends on the context and
meaning of the tweet.

Conduct a search for your name, your company’s name, or various topics you’re interested in and then subscribe via RSS. Twilert and TweetBeep are additional tools you can use to receive email alerts.


7. FriendFeed


FriendFeed
is a social aggregator. You have the ability to take all of your social
accounts, such as YouTube, Delicious, Twitter, blog, and Flickr,
and pull them together into a single (Friend) feed. You can conduct
searches on your brand throughout all social networks at once using
this search engine.

Aside from learning about the latest video or tweet related to your
topic, you can analyze comments that people make under them. FriendFeed
users tend to favorite and comment on what you share and tracking it
will become more important as this service grows in population. You can
also receive alerts straight to your desktop with Alert Thingy.


8. Social Search


socialmention

Social Mention
is a social media search engine that searches user-generated content
such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos, and
microblogging services. It allows you to track mentions of your brand
across all of these areas.

The results are aggregated from the top social media sources, such
as Flickr, YouTube, Digg, Delicious, Twitter and more. Like the other
services, you can subscribe to your results by RSS or email. Other
social search engines include Serph and Keotag.


9. Interactive Search


While all the other tools listed are quite rudimentary, this one is
rather complex and intelligent. Instead of being hit with hundreds or
even a thousand results for your brand name, Filtrbox
only delivers the most relevant, credible mentions of things you need
to track. Its “FiltrRank” technology scores content based on three
dimensions: contextual relevance, popularity and feedback. You can look
back to previous searches 15 days out for free as well.


10. Your Network


networkA
lot of people overlook a strong network when it comes to monitoring
their brands. If you have a robust network, especially people in your
industry who observe the same keywords as you, then you will receive
important updates without even asking for them.

I get updates for just about everything now, including Facebook
messages stating that I misspelled a word in my blog post and email
messages pointing to an article I was referenced in. If you concentrate
on building relationships, you won’t miss a beat, even if you want to!


What to Do Next


After you’ve selected which tools you want to use in your brand
reputation management system and you’ve set the proper RSS or email
alerts for your name, company and/or topic, now it’s time to set a
schedule for when you want to check your status.

Will you do it once a day, twice a day or once a week? When you’re
first starting out, once a day or week will work for you, but I highly
encourage those who participate regularly to pay more attention to
their online brands. Just Googling your name won’t be enough. You need
to be a bit more paranoid in the digital age. in order to prevent fires
from spreading, actually network with people who are talking about
topics of interest or thank people who have complimented you.

Think about the brand reputation you want to project to the world. Wouldn’t you like it to be positive!? )


December 24, 2008 – 9:04 am PDT – by
Dan Schawbel

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