When brands are getting started in social media, they really benefit from understanding who is currently talking about them online, what they are saying, to whom and where. After auditing what your brand footprint currently is, you can begin to make decisions about where you should have a presence, the issues of interest to people in social media and the discussions and debates that your brand can both benefit from and contribute to.

A thorough audit of your current presence in social media (or perhaps just the presence of your brand through customers, fans and others) is the first step for any social media strategy. Whilst Google Alerts provide a useful source for the latest items that are indexed by its search engine, to understand properly what is being discussed by your brand it is worthwhile investing in some detailed buzz tracking.

The best results come from using paid-for services such as Radian6. These conduct and analyse real-time, deep searching into what people are discussing in public forums and social media online that is analysed according to the reach of the posts and discussions and the influence of the people discussing your brand. You can drill-down into your keywords, understand which discussions are prevalent across different social networks and online communities and identify, measure and track your main influencers online.

As with most of our advice, however, a good first step is just to have a go. To do this you need to first establish what your keywords are and then use some tools (paid-for or free) to see what people are saying. Your keyword list is critical here and time should be put into building a list of terms about your brand, organisation, market and customers. Then you are ready to go. And if you don’t want to invest in a thorough, paid-for service right, and you are willing to put in more work and use multiple services, then there are a number of good free tools in the market. Some of these are listed below.

Only when you’ve got a clearer view of what people are saying about your brand and how it is represented online can you start to really develop a strategy to get started in social media.

In tomorrow’s post we will look at how to estabish the aims of your use of social media and how you can measure success.

You can read the full guide here: Getting Started in Social Media

Some free buzz tracking tools

Earlier this year Econsultancy produced a list of free buzz tracking tools which provides a great starting point for any brand looking to explore what is being said about it in social media. The original article is here, and the list republished below:

  1. Addict-o-matic – Allows you to create a custom-made page to display search results.
  2. Bloglines – A web-based personal news aggregator that can be used in place of a desktop client.
  3. Blogpulse – A service of Nielsen BuzzMetrics. It analyzes and reports on daily trends within the blogosphere.
  4. BoardTracker – A useful tool for scanning and tracking within forums.
  5. Commentful – This service watches comments/follow-ups on Blog posts and similar content such as Flickr or Digg.
  6. FriendFeed Search – Scans all FriendFeed activity.
  7. Google Alerts –Daily or real-time alerts emailed to you whenever a specific keyword (chosen by you) is mentioned.
  8. HowSociable? – A simple way for you to begin measuring your brand’s visibility on the social web.
  9. Icerocket – Searches a variety of online services, including Twitter, blogs, videos and MySpace.
  10. Keotag – Keyword searches across the internet landscape.
  11. MonitorThis – Subscribes you to up to 20 different RSS feeds through one stream.
  12. Samepoint – A conversation search engine.
  13. Surchur– An interactive dashboard covering search engines and most social media sites.
  14. Technorati – Search engine and monitoring tool for user-generated media and blogs
  15. Tinker – Real-time conversations from social media sources such as Twitter and Facebook.
  16. TweetDeck – Not only a great way to manage your Twitter account, but the keyword search means you can see what people are saying about you.
  17. Twitter Search – Twitter’s very own search tool is a great resource. Can be subscribed to as an RSS ffed.
  18. UberVU - Track and engage with user sentiment across the likes of, FriendFeed, Digg, Picasa, Twitter and Flickr.
  19. wikiAlarm – Alerts you to when a Wikipedia entry has been changed.
  20. Yahoo! Sideline – A TweetDeck-esque tool from Yahoo. Monitor, search and engage with the Twittersphere.

Image by clownbastard via Flickr

Original Post: http://blog.freshnetworks.com/2009/10/getting-started-1-do-you-know-what-people-are-saying-about-you/

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