Companies need to come to the realization that their brands exist and are shaped beyond their direct influence. For as long as brands have existed, consumers have had an opinion about them. Unlike twenty years ago, when those opinions could only be shared within small face-to-face networks, they can now be shared on a constantly expanding massive scale. Services like Twitter, Facebook and blogs enable this. Below is a fairly comprehensive list of the tools needed to track your brand and your online identity. See what they are saying about you…
Blogs (and comments)
- Technorati – The original search engine for blogs. Technorati indexes over 1 million blog posts in real time. Based on a similar algorithm to Google’s Page Rank, Technorati’s search results are sorted by blog authority (or the total number of sites linking to a specific blog), therefore giving some order to the blog posts containing your brand. Based on the massive amount of information indexed, Technorati is also able to display what is popular on the web at the time. Technorati has recently moved into the advertising network market.
- Backtype – Allows you find follow and share comments from across the web. The Alerts tool lets users monitor specific terms (brand names, people, products, etc.) within blogs and blog comments. Users can create “alerts” by entering a term in the search field, selecting the frequency of the updates and then selecting “create”. Multiple alerts can be created to monitor multiple ways your brand is referred to, multiple brands or multiple products.
- YackTrack – Similar to Backtype, YackTrack monitors blogs and comments. The service currently supports Blogger/Blogspot, Digg, Disqus, FriendFeed, Google Blog Search, Google Reader, IntenseDebate, Mixx, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Technorati, TypePad/MoveableType and WordPress blogs. “Chatter” is a tool that allows users to perform keyword searches across social media sites. You are then able to save the specific search queries and subscribe via RSS.
- Serph – In their own words, “Serph is a search engine that you can use to find out what people are saying on the web right now”. Enter a keyword and Serph finds everything said about it displaying the most recent results first. When I searched for “Vitamin Water”, 208 results came back, but seemed pretty limited with the majority of the results coming from Technorati and Flickr.
- Boardreader – Indexes message boards and forums. Enter a key word, and Boardreader returns results of where the keyword appears on message boards and forums. The service allows users to browse by popular internet videos, movies, posts, articles and by top Internet sites, domains, topics and projects. While the service above monitor comments on blogs, this service monitors the message boards.
- Boardtracker – Another message board and forum tracking tool. Boardtracker searches tags and threads for your specific keywords. You can also create alerts to be sent notifying you when there are new discussions taking place about your brand.
- Samepoint – A social conversation search engine. The service has very clean interface and the search results are laid out very well. Within the search results, each result displays the title, an excerpt of the content, the source and the negative and positive words associated with the given keyword. The positive words for “Vitamin Water” were “Amazing”, “Buy”, “Focus” and the negative words were “Wait”, “Lose”.
You can further sort the results by discussion points, bookmarks, wikis, networks, B2B networks, life casting, microBlogs, reviews, podcasts, documents, video, images, news, web. Overall, this seems like one of the best free social monitoring tools out there.
- FriendFeed – Allows you to keep track of all your activities across the web. Aggregates everything you bookmark to del.icio.us, wish for on Amazon, share on Google Reader, tweet about on Twitter, etc., etc.. Friendfeed also enables you to conduct searches for brand keywords to see where they appear across the social media landscape. It even goes a step further and lets you see comments.
- Socialmention – A social media search engine that searches user-generated content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos, and microblogging services. Search major social media platforms like, Google blog search, Twitter, Delicious, FriendFeed, Flickr, Digg and YouTube. In the search results it displays a “social rank”, which is based on frequency of mention. For a search of Vitamin Water, it had a social rank of 83.62/100, with 1 mention every 16 minutes. You can sort by Blogs, Microblogs, Bookmarks, Comments, Events, Images, News, Video or by All.
- TweetScan – Basic twitter search with search cloud on main page.
- Twitterholic – Twitter ranking based on number of followers. Great way to determine influence.
- Twittersearch – Exactly what the name says, search what is being said on Twitter in real time. This is Twitter’s own search tool. Displays trends and most popular subjects. Can create RSS feeds to keep track of your keywords.
- Trackur – An online reputation monitoring tool designed to assist you in tracking what is said about you on the Internet. Trackur scans hundreds of millions of web pages–including news, blogs, video, images, and forums–and lets you know if it discovers anything that matches the keywords that interest you. They claim to do the “heavy lifting” so you don’t have to. There are four pricing models; $18/month, $88/month, $197/month and contact for pricing as the agency option. The value proposition is in the back-end work they do and the dashboard in which the data is displayed.
- Visible Technologies – Offers both social media tools and reputation management tools. The TruCast tool tracks, analyzes and participates in social media. Works with blogs, forums, social networks and online communities. The TruView tool proactively protects and promotes reputations online. Visible Technologies claims the tool will ensure that positive and relevant content is positioned where consumers are most likely to view it in the top Search Engines. They are backed by major players in advertising and media; WPP, Cohn&Wolfe, Burson Marsteller.
- Buzz Logic – BuzzLogic has two main services as well. The first being BuzzLogic Insights for PR Professionals – This service helps companies understand who are the voices driving key conversations across social media, so you can map communications strategies to these opinion-leaders and their audiences. It also builds relationships with influential bloggers for high-impact coverage, accesses new influencers as their credibility rises, and tracks specific topics and shape engagements over time. The second service is BuzzLogic Insights for Marketers. It identifies the active consumer advocates and contributors, influencing others on specific topics, brands, and products, gain valuable product feedback and shorten response time to key customer issues and understand brand perception and message penetration.
- Radian6 – Enables clients to select keywords and then discover, track and analyze those words. Radian6 offers data delivery so you can export all the graphs, charts and numbers in any format to be dropped easily into presentations. The services lets companies dig deeply into the social influence process and see what works best.
Trends and Buzz
- Perspectv – This product differentiates itself by not only monitoring news, blogs, tweets and search volume, but you are able to compare keywords. This enables to see how your brand compares to the competitive brands and if your brand appears next to a competitor in the same article or blog post.
- Google Trends – Bare bones version of Perspectv. Unlike Perspectv, though, Google Trends displays data on a timeline. Analyzes both Google News and Google Search Index.
Now, how to aggregate this all…
Create a Google Reader account.
On all of these sites, once you search for your brand keywords, you can get them in an RSS feed. One-by-one begin to import your feeds into your Google Reader (as I have done here for Vitamin Water). This takes all the hassle out of monitoring your online identity because all the information goes to a single destination, and is dynamically updated as soon as someone mentions your brand.
Companies absolutely no longer have an excuse to not know what people are saying about your brand online. As long as there is a service that enables people to create and share content, there will be tools that monitor them. It is important for companies to know what tools are out there and how to use them. While this list is not exhaustive, it does provide the framework to start figuring out what people are saying. This is valuable information and can come to replace the traditional focus group because this is more of an actual ethnographic study. Companies can get real opinions from real people in their natural environments.
It will be interesting to see how many of the companies reach out to me, given the fact that they should be monitoring themselves across the web.