As a savvy business owner, you’ve invested in creating a business presence, or brand, that is conducive to customer loyalty. You took great pains in determining your business values, slogan, colors, and logo. In some shape or form, these values have been carried through in your print materials, website, social media channels, and mobile app. And since you’ve successfully implemented that, you think your work is done, right? Think again.
In today’s digital world, a big part of maintaining your brand is managing and monitoring what people are saying about your business. This trend has jump started a burgeoning field known as Online Reputation Management. There are many companies and online tools (free and paid) that can help you tackle this task. To help you get started, here are a range of free and paid tools you can take advantage of before taking your business to the next level.
Choose Your Tracking Tools
There’s an array of free and dependable online tracking tools to monitor what is being said about your brand, your business, your competition, and your industry. If you decide to only go with free tools, it’s recommended to sign up for a few of them to get the best information possible. Keep in mind that you might want to monitor your exact business name as well as variations to ensure that you are getting the best and most accurate results.
One of the best free tools you can use to monitor your brand online is Google Alerts. Decide which terms you would like to search, the type of search results, and the frequency. If Google finds a reference to your business or relevant items in the news, a blog, or a feed, you’ll get a notification in your mailbox. It’s as simple as that!
While Google Alerts focuses on blogs and news sites, there are an assortment of sites that focus on digging through the social media sphere:
- Social Mention: Besides forwarding the actual post that refers to your business, Social Mention also tracks sentiment, keywords, hashtags, and top influencers relevant to your business. These features also help you better understand your audience. You can export the results to a CSV or Excel file or even create a special RSS feed for your search.
- IceRocket: Although not as thorough as Social Mention, this monitoring tool focuses on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. You can review the results or create your own RSS feed. It also provides insight on trends in your industry.
- Addict-o-matic: This site lets you track news sites and social media sites by letting you create a custom search page, where you toggle target sites on and off. Based on where your audience resides, you can select which sites are most relevant to you.
- Twazzup: This site monitors Twitter. It tracks mentions as well as top followers, influencers, keywords, and retweets.
In addition to these monitoring tools, make sure your business has a social media account profile. You may already have a Pinterest account, but is it a business account? By converting it to a business account, Pinterest provides you with free analytics and you can take a look at who’s pinning your content. Similarly, be sure you a have a business page on Facebook and Google+. These little things make a big difference!
Create a Social Media Dashboard
No doubt if you’re using social media, you’re using a client like Hootsuite or TweetDeck to schedule your posts on Twitter. What you may not realize is that both these clients can connect to your other social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. This makes them amazing one-stop shops, saving you enormous amounts of time on your daily tasks. But beyond that, both tools can be used to monitor your brand by creating specific searches to follow variations of your business name, with and without the hashtag symbol (#). Hootsuite is a more sophisticated tool as it also provides analytics tools to premium customers.
Another freemium tool that shouldn’t be overlooked is Socialbakers. It tracks general social media trends like top brands on Facebook, Twitter, and other channels. You can also add your business’ own social channels to see how they measure up, and even monitor the competition.
Protect Your Brand Name
When you’re first opening a business, it’s always recommended to open primary social media accounts to reserve the name and ensure it’s in your control. You can find out if someone has opened a social channel under your name with KnowEm, the social media equivalent of checking Whois to see who owns a specific website domain. The only difference with social media is that if someone opens an account under your business name, it’s difficult to find out who owns it.
Even if you do all of the above, you might find that someone else has opened a Facebook page or Twitter account under your brand name. Don’t panic—there are ways to deal with this issue. Each social channel has a different way of dealing with this matter. For instance, on Facebook, you can report a page by clicking the three-dotted button on a page’s cover image. The same is true for Twitter; just go to the questionable account, click the cogwheel below the cover image, and click Block or Report.
In both cases you will be asked to answer a few short questions about why you are reporting the page. If your business is indeed trademarked, be sure to have your company paperwork (i.e. ID number) handy to prove that you are in fact a registered business. While these are only two specific examples, the same is true of every social channel. This is just one more way for you to control your brand online.
How do you follow what people are saying about your business online? Share your methods here!