With last year’s high profile case of United Airlines experiencing a 10% decrease in share price due to a single YouTube video (“Revenge is best served cold – on YouTube”), and Google rolling out “real time search”, companies are finally coming around to the realisation that social media must be acknowledged. Social media has provided consumers with a power never seen before, the power to talk openly about their experiences of a brand, and to share that content freely, and more importantly, quickly, around the social web.
Any negative bit of searchable content on the web could have a hugely negative impact on your brand, from a mainstream news article on the Guardian, right through to a forum comment or an isolated tweet. In this new social media world, control lies in the hands of the consumer, and companies need to adapt accordingly. Whilst this lack of control can be disconcerting, timely and appropriate responses to consumer conversation online can be hugely rewarding.
However, before you try to talk to converse with your consumers online (how best to do that will be another blog post!), you need to know what is being said about you, and preferably, in real time. Social media/online PR agencies (including us!) will be able to perform ongoing quantitative and qualitative online audits for you as part of their services, to provide you with an in-depth understanding of your online presence and reputation. However, there are some tools available online, which can give you a topline snapshot of this.
With this in mind, we have collated a list of five free tools to help you monitor conversations about your brand. If you try any of these out, let us know what you think!
We’re not going to dwell on this one, but suffice to say that anyone who hasn’t got Google alerts set up for their company/products is missing a serious trick. Simple to do, simple to manage.
TweetBeep is a great way to get up to the hour alerts on hot topics of your choice direct from the twittersphere. Self-dubbed Google alerts for Twitter, it works very much in the same way; picking up on key words or phrases as and when they are tweeted about. TweetBeep allows you to create up to ten ‘beeps’ per account before there is a charge for the service, however once you have used your ten alerts on one account, there is nothing stopping you setting up another!
TweetBeep is a Twitter application set up by Michael Jensen (twitter.com/mdjensen), who has also developed a number of other twitter tools, including LiveTwitting.com and TweetAnswers. It is not affiliated with Twitter.com.
Collecta monitors the update streams of news sites, popular blogs and social media, in real time. You can either search the entire social web through Collecta, including blogs, Twitter, flickr, YouTube etc, or you can filter the search, so that it only delivers comments, updates (twitter etc),or photos. We have to say, this tool isn’t particularly useful for brands/companies which don’t generate a lot of chatter, but it is quite useful for searching hot topics, emerging news stories, or well known personalities or brands.
Boardreader scans online forums and communities for chatter about your brand. As well as providing search results for your chosen key words, Boardreader will also plot this chatter over time to illustrate the ebbs and flows in conversations.
The best feature about Boardreader, we think, is that you can compare up to three key words at a time, which is a great way to compare the level of conversation about your company with that of competitors. However, Boardreader is by no means definitive; it doesn’t scan every forum out there! So if you know of forums important to your business, it worth looking at those forums and doing additional searches.
Social mention is a new tool, similar to Connecta, and we must admit, we are just trying this one out too!. It is a “social media search platform that aggregates user generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information.
It allows you to easily track what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time. Social Mention monitors 80+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc”.
Similar to Tweet Beep and Google Alerts, you can also set up social mention alerts to find out what people are saying about you as soon as it happens. Not sure what we think about this tool yet; we will let you know in a couple of weeks.
So, what do you think of all these tools? Or do you have your own favourites? Let us know!