While there are plenty of paid for services wanting to show you how your brand covers the social media landscape, there are also many free tools available online which can give you a great sense of how a brand is perceived in social media.
Identify your brand keywords
This may sound simple, but listening to the social media buzz won’t matter if the correct terms haven’t been targeted. Be sure to include:
– Brand and product names
– Common misspellings of the Brand
– Buzz keywords and keyword phrases
– Competitor brand names
– Competitor brand misspellings
Check the trends
A visual representation of a brand allows you to see how much activity surrounds it. BlogPulse Trends and IceRocket Trend Tool track the buzz surrounding the keywords searched for. The tools are slightly more detailed than Google Trends, in that you can select both ‘trend search terms’ and a ‘display label’ to clarify your search terms.
Google Trends enable you to see how popular your brand has been across the search engines, including what news articles have mentioned the term. This free tool also shows what regions have the highest search volume for the term, what cities it is most searched in, and in what languages the term has been searched for.
Discover which blogs and forums are mentioning your brand
Blogs and forums are a great place to interact with consumers. By searching these mediums it becomes clear what attitudes are towards the brand, the brand’s competitors, and the other keywords you have chosen to monitor. It’s also a great opportunity to introduce a product to audiences already talking about relevant buzz words.
Some of the best tools include:
Blogplus Conversation Tracker – This amazing tool creates a thread view of conversations that started on one blog and resulted in other bloggers responding with posts on theirs. Blogplus essentially maps a blog’s permalinks to see where the conversations are heading.
coComment.com – As a comment aggregator, coComment monitors online conversations through the comments made on different social media sites. Be it news sources, blogs or forums, coComment enables users who sign up for this free service to track all the comments they take part in and that mention their brand.
BoardReader explores forums to figure out what users are saying about your clients’ brands. This is a great way to identify with potential consumers of your product, with whom you can potentially interact.
Control your brand name
Using User Name Check allows you to browse 68 of the most popular social media websites to see if someone else has taken your brand name. If you haven’t already reserved the brand name on these networks it’s a good idea to do so. Even if the accounts will remain idle, reserving the name is beneficial because not only do social media accounts traditionally rank highly in search engine results, most profiles also permit at least one link you can use to redirect searchers to your brand’s website.
Take a snapshot of the social media landscape
Use a social media aggregator to get a snapshot across a variety of social media platforms including blog comments, microblogging, and product reviews. Some even assess the attitude of search results as positive, negative or neutral. These snapshots are a great one stop shop when wanting to understand the basics of a brand’s buzz, but don’t go into as much detail as some of the other tools.
Omgili goes beyond listing results to assess if comments are positive or negative, and looks at the overall internet buzz, product reviews, tweets, questions asked about the product, and blog activity.
Backtype – A comment aggregator, Backtype searches through conversations across a variety of social media platforms including blogs, social networks, and other social media forums; and also offers email alerts. However, to access this service it is necessary to sign up.
Ice rocket is a social media search engine covering video, blogs, twitter, news, and images. Select to view results by day, week, or month, and narrow down the language field. Use their trend tool to see just a visual representation of a brand, average numbers of mentions on a daily basis, and more.
Set up email alerts
Email alerts enable you to receive the latest relevant results regarding your brand, straight to your inbox. Alerts make it easy to track what people are talking about without actually having to conduct regular searches. The alerts – which read like a search engine results page – can be sent daily, weekly, or every time there is a new mention made.
Google Alerts – Set up email updates to receive the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) for your brand. Either select a sub-category you specifically want updates about, for example blogs or video, or have a comprehensive alert covering the entire internet. Be sure to reflect on whether you want to be alerted daily, weekly, or monthly – these emails can quickly fill up your inbox.
Trendrr – The free account option allows users to track 10 terms from over 40 of the top social media and online services. Real time social and digital media tracking allows users to keep an eagle eye out for their brand and also key competitors.
SocialMention – A search engine and email service which encompasses a broad range of social media platforms including blogs, microblogs, bookmarking sites, images, and more. In the website’s own words, “Like Google Alerts but for social media.” It is a great addition as it assess (though the accuracy may be in question) the searched term’s strength, sentiment, reach, passion, and whether the buzz is positive, negative, or neutral.
A few more great tools
TweetDeck is known for being a Twitter and Facebook feed aggregator, tweet deck also has a keyword search option which updates in real time. After installing tweet deck and logging in with your Twitter account, select the ‘search’ function represented with a magnifying glass in the upper left bar. A column will start uploading all recent mentions of the keyword, and you are alerted every time a new ‘mention’ is tracked.
Blinkx is the ultimate video search engine, Blinkx covers over 35 million hours of video from both popular video websites like YouTube and Vimeo, and material hosted on smaller sites.
Keotag – A search function designed exclusively to sift through tags that user submitted content has been labelled with. The search process has two parts, first is to enter the keyword and second is to select one of the 17 social media platforms to search through.
The tools listed above give great scope and cover all aspects of social media, but clearly you don’t need all of them in order to monitor your brand’s performance. The tools you use will be determined by the result of your social media audit (see ‘How to plan your social media campaign’ link), as this will identify which areas of social media you need to monitor. Some of them also offer API’s, ideal for the more technical-minded, as several tools can be combined to form your own, personalised, social media monitoring system.
By Gifford Morley-Fletcher, director of strategy – inbound marketing, Base One