How To Monitor Your Small Business Online – Five Free Tools

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Did you know that your customers and prospects are talking online about your company and industry, whether you are there or not? Do you know what they are saying?

It used to be that if you wanted to know what was being said about your company in public you could subscribe to a press clipping service or try to monitor all the print media yourself.

For better or worse, along comes the Internet. Now in addition to major news outlets or your industry’s trade journals, anyone with a computer connection can express their opinion about your company, good or bad, and share it with the world. In fact, entire business models have cropped up that make it easier than ever for a consumer to share what they think of your company, brand or product.

Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to follow (aka listen) what’s being said about your company and brand.  The smart companies are going beyond listening and are actually engaging in conversations with their customers and prospects, often creating a relationship before they ever enter the sales funnel (To find out how your company can move from listening to the next level, make sure you read about the free webinar at the end of this post).

Here are five free tools you can use today to start listening to what’s being said online about your business:

TIP: Before setting up any of these tools, go and get a Google Reader account at www.google.com/reader.  All of the tools below will allow you to use RSS feeds to combine the alerts into one location making it easy to quickly check into online conversations you want to be a part of. If you need a primer on what RSS is, there is a good explanation on Wikipedia or take the tour on Google.

  1. Google Alerts: Go to www.google.com/alerts and create alerts for your company name, major competitor’s names and industry references.
  2. BackTweets: BackTweets will search for URL’s on Twitter, such as your company website or blog. If you aren’t on Twitter and wonder if you should be, read our blog post about it here.
  3. Tweet Beep: Tweet Beep will monitor any phrase that you choose (like your company name) on Twitter and update you either once per day or once per hour.
  4. BackType: BackType focuses specifically on comments made in blog posts.  Blogs, and comments in them, are increasingly becoming a place where people are discussing their experiences with companies.
  5. SocialMention: SocialMention takes a comprehensive look across all social media including blogs, microblogs (Twitter), bookmarks, pictures and video.

There are new resources being developed all the time to help keep track of what’s being said online about your company.  Best of all, they’re free! The tools mentioned here will put you well on your way to taking the first step in participating in online conversations.

If you are interested in taking the next step and starting to turn those online conversations into actionable leads, be sure to sign up for Direct Capital’s next free webinar: Drive More Sales with Social Media coming up on October 20th.

Are there other tools that you use to monitor your company?

Photo credit to 13dede at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1222929

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