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Five ways to find out what people are saying about your business online

You don’t have to be paranoid to want to know what people are saying about you and your business online. Here are five ways you can find out.

Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool of all. But in the internet age, word of mouth can reach a great many ears in a very short time. Before you know it, a blog could have disseminated negative information about your business to thousands of readers.

Here are five ways you can stay informed about what’s being said about you by finding mentions of your business in the online press and social media.

1.    Google News Alerts

Google offers a service called News Alerts which finds any mentions of your business in the online mainstream media. The service is very simple: tell Google the name of your business and it will email you with a list of web pages that mention your business.

Google News Alerts can also pick up mentions of your business in blogs and discussion groups although it can be a bit hit-and-miss. Visit news.google.com to set up a News Alert.

2.    Technorati

If you expect most of your customers to be talking about you on blogs, you need a Technorati account. You can do one-off searches of the blogosphere for your business, but you can also automate your searches by using a Watchlist (look under the Favourites tab) for searches you use often.

3.    Twitter

If Twitter is the new water cooler, then using Twitter’s search tool is the best way to stay in touch with the latest gossip. There are also plenty of quick, easy-to-use services like  www.twitscoop.com which auto-refreshes saved searches and lists trending topics, so you can stay abreast of what’s happening throughout the day.

If you want your Twitter searches automatically sent to you, you need to subscribe to a service like Tweet Later. Tweet Later will search on up to 50 keywords and send you the results every four or twelve hours.

4.    Samepoint

One place it is a little more difficult to find mentions of your business is on social networks like Facebook. If you have a Facebook or MySpace page, and people are commenting on your entries, then of course they will come up in your news feed. But if people are discussing your business on their own walls, it’s more difficult to track. There are engines like the Same point which track all social media, so should be able to find mentions of your business on Facebook and Twitter as well as on blogs.

5.    Get someone else to do it

If your business is frequently mentioned in the media it may be worthwhile to hire someone to look for all of your coverage. Telstra reportedly has a team of people monitoring Twitter alone to deal with problems as they arise, but if there are Twitter accounts out there called @(your business name)sucks you probably already know you have a problem that needs addressing.

If automated searches are coming up with more results than you can handle and you already have help with your public relations, your PR company is the obvious next stop. They will be reporting to you on coverage anyway and should be keeping track of mentions in news and social networks. If they’re not, ask why not. Companies like Media Monitors are also happy to let you know when you are mentioned, for a fee.

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