Listening to what people are saying about your brand online may be easier and cheaper than you think.
There’s a host of expensive tools and services that can help you find out, but several of our clients have a hard time selling that expense to management. The good news is there are some really effective tools to get you started that are free.
Getting Started: How do people talk about you?
Start by looking at the keywords and phrases they use to find your website. Your website analytics package, e.g., Google Analytics, Webtrends or Clicky should be able to help.
If you’re not using one of these packages, please consider starting. In the meantime, brainstorm keywords and phrases patients/potential patients would use to find you.
Next, consider one of these four free brand-monitoring tools:
1: Google Email Alert System
Using those keywords and phrases from your preliminary research, you can have any mention of those keywords and phrases in combination with your brand, product or service line sent straight to your inbox.
The notification is a direct hyperlink to the article, website, blog, product review, etc., wherein the keyword or phrase appeared. You can click on the link and be taken directly to the location of your brand mention.
You’ll also have access to brand and keyword/phrase mentions as soon as they’re indexed by Google in search results.
SocialMention monitors 100+ social media properties, including Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google, and so forth.
It also tracks what your competitors are saying. It can be accessed directly from the tool’s website or you can download the widget and add it to your website to have convenient access to buzz about your brand right from your blog or corporate site. A search plugin also allows you to select SocialMention from within your browser’s search options.
Based on your search criteria, SocialMention will return all of the mentions of your brand or keyword/phrase across the web. It also provides search metrics such as sentiment ratings, top keywords used in conjunction with your brand, top users of your brand name (those mentioning it the most), strength, passion, reach and more.
You’re able to click on the links where your brand is mentioned which facilitates a direct response to the person or party mentioning your brand or keyword/phrase. These metrics may not be totally scientific, but they’re a good starting point.
One of my colleagues has gone so far as to say that TweetDeck “changed her life.” I have to agree. It’s pretty sweet. It really simplifies Twitter because it gives you a simple way to view multiple conversations and searches from one location. You can use the dashboard in multiple locations such as laptop, desktop, smartphone and tablet.
TweetDeck is your personal real-time browser. Connecting with it allows you to save Twitter keyword searches and hashtag searches; monitor your Twitter followers’ tweets, Twitter lists and @ replies; and permits you to tweet from your account(s) too. You’re not just limited to tweeting with TweetDeck, you can also update Facebook profiles and LinkedIn accounts. And you can monitor your brand mentions as they happen and respond just as quickly.
To monitor the blogosphere for what bloggers are posting about your brand consider Technorati. It’s an online tool that searches a blog directory of nearly 1.3 million blogs for all mentions of the brand or keyword/phrases that you enter in the search field.
When the search results are compiled, you have a listing of posts to review that let you see what kinds of product and service reviews, comments, feedback, stories, etc. are being shared regarding your brand. These posts can help you join in the conversation about your brand and potentially build brand ambassadors.
This is just a sampling of tools that are available, but I think they are a great place to start. Please chime in with additional suggestions.
*Side note: Trust me, these airport people are great at social media. I think health care marketers can learn from other industries, and airports are getting really good at using social media to engage with customers. Consider following one of our agency’s clients, Kansas City International Airport @KCIairport, @JoeKCI, @kcjetsetter for some good examples.