Even if you are yet to be convinced or perhaps just haven’t yet established your social media presence you should start building some awareness of what is being said about your business and personal brand (i.e. your business and personal names) on the Internet.
It is a start to find out either:
- You have no presence on the Internet such that nobody knows about you or has anything to say about you.
- People are using various Internet venues like Twitter and Facebook to complain about you or your business
- People are praising or asking questions about you
Any of these results could prompt you to want to get involved in social media to respond to and attempt to influence your reputation online.
Step 1. Google Search
Google your own name, business name, or keywords associated with your business.
Standard search techniques apply here so you may want to use quotes around a specific phrase (like your full business name) and use the + between keywords to get combined results (AND function). Check out the advanced search link or Google search tips to increase your searching effectiveness. There is a whole book that has been written on how to get more out of Google search as it is a very powerful business and personal tool.
Using Google search works to get an occasional snapshot of what is being said about you on web sites and blogs at any given time.
Step 2. Google Alerts
The Google alert service can continuously monitor search results of your choosing and alert you by either email or as a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed. (If you are new to RSS check out my articles on how to setup an RSS reader and free desktop newsreader software). My preference, to give my overburdened email a break, is to use RSS feeds monitored by Google’s Reader. This way you get more of an ongoing view and can see trends and progress. Using an RSS reader is very beneficial if you want to process large volumes of information with many topics that are constantly being updated.
Step 3. Twitter Search
Twitter is known for short real time tweets of information. On the twitter web site you can do searches on various topics and also check trends. There are many Twitter clients that can be used on your computer, tablet (e.g. iPad), or phone that can also show search results. Tweetdeck, which can show multiple columns of tweet streams including ones for searches, is one I would recommend because it is very capable and is also free. Tweetalarm is a new web service which will send alerts to your email about tweets that match keywords you have identified.
Step 4. Facebook Search
You can search Facebook from the public page, from within Facebook as a member, and also using the Bing search engine.
Step 5. More Options
By now you may be really getting into it and want to check even more sources to find out what the buzz is on yourself or your business. Check out the Digital Inspirations site for more on how to monitor your online reputation.
Oh, yeah. When you are done searching about yourself and your business you might want to do some searches to build awareness on your competitors and keywords about your industry so you have a benchmark for your results. Competition is a great way to up your service so your customers can win.
There is a lot that can be done with social media but this is a way to get started by first building awareness of what is happening online. That could be very important to your reputation and that of your business.