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The goal of this series is to take your online presence to a new level. A great book to read on this topic is Groundswell by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff. It outlines the steps to leveraging the power of your customers online. And it also has many case studies to give you lots of ideas.

The first step is listening. You need to consider where your customers are at online. Once you find the conversations are at then you can decide how to best participate. This is very different from traditional marketing & advertising efforts.

Here are 5 reasons to use listening tools & how they can help your online business:

1. identifying where conversations are taking place about your brand & identify new markets
2. building brand
3. brand reparation including crisis management
4. reporting to management about the progress of your online engagement efforts
5. monitor competitors & their products

There are a number of free tools that you can use:

Google alerts – you will need a Google account (but there are so many tools) – have the results delivered by email – you can choose ‘as it happens’ or daily

Search.Twitter.com – you can subscribe to the RSS feed or have it open in a tab during the day
Blogsearch – another tool from Google
Technorati – blog search
www.twing.com – monitors conversations in forums

BoardTracker.com – also monitors conversations in forums
The secret to using these are choosing keywords that don’t bring back too many results. Try setting them up (like Google alerts & Technorati) & if you’re getting too many results, then refine your keywords. For example if you’re a photographer like in my example then using ‘photography’ is too general. Use “portrait photography” in order to limit the results. Or “landscape photography”. I also have Google alerts set up for my name as well as the misspelled version. “connie bensen” and “connie benson”
When the results come in to your email or blog reader review them. For the results that are pertinent click thru & see what is being said. When you decide to engage you can start responding.
If you consistently monitor & respond you can accomplish the 5 items I listed above & build brand awareness online. People will think that you’re everywhere. The best thing is that it’s a very efficient use of time.
Do you monitor your brand? Have you had success?

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    • Don Marco

      You forgot one of the best – Omgili. They have many sections that can help. The main site http://www.omgili.com is great for discussions – the advanced search features are superb, http://buzz.omgili.com is great for recent buzz and graphs. http://reviews.omgili.com is excellent for sentiment about consumer products, and http://searchaid.omgili.com helps you to find what people are searching.

    • http://www.ribeezie.com Ricardo Bueno

      I have Google Alerts set up to track certain things like my name, my blog and a few other things that I'm doing and trying to keep track of. It's a great “listening” tool! I'm pinged every time someone writes or says something about. For anyone who has a brand name or is trying to manage their brand name, Google alerts is a resourceful brand management tool.

    • http://www.eMailOurMilitary.com eMOM

      All great tools! Fantastic post.

    • http://www.eMailOurMilitary.com eMOM

      All great tools! Fantastic post.