June 30, 2010
Firstly we recommend you build a community map of the key influencing platforms you know your business has a presence on.
In the centre place your business and then create a second tier of all the industries and verticals your business operates in. From there, create nodes that represent the most influential social sites, blogs and feeds in these industry verticals. Consider the tiers of your target market and where they may be spending their time.
If you want to invite multiple contributors, you could use a digital mind mapping tool like Mindmeister.
If you don't know where the conversations are happening about your brand or business, Icerocket is a great tool to help you find them.
Here you can seek out blogs and communities where the discussion about your brand has started without you. Don't forget to look for the names of your management team, your products and services and your competitors.
WhosTalkin.com is another search engine for blogs, videos, tags, twitter, news feeds et al. The results for your keyword search terms here are filterable by platform and news network which helps you isolate the concentration of activity by channel.
If you notice consistent discussion about your brand or products on this search engine, you should add them to your community map. You might want to check back and monitor activity on key influential nodes. You could also add key content topics to your map so you can see what's important to people, and what's being spoken about. You can use similar language and address topic points in your social media communication to them later.
If you want to measure the level of chat around your products, brand, industry or news, you can use a tool like Viral Heat. You also get a nifty weekly overview about audience interactions for specific social media campaigns at low cost. Play the video to see the demo.
A little more pricey, but very thorough, is SpredFast which allows you to schedule and monitor social media activity.
Scoutlabs starts from $249 a month for 5 users. It has tiers of functionality, but it offers information on persistent searches in your category, rants and raves, buzz tracking and sentiment analysis. For the more expensive packages, you can get details on recurring word themes and manage response task tracking amongst large groups.
For the wishlist: Awareness do something similar but is the whole kit and caboodle, including measuring audit trails, managing channels, and watching the conversations take place from the safety of one digital dashboard starting from $2000 per month. We're not counting these guys in the 'low-cost' category, but we're saying definitely push the ones we've mentioned first to their full capacity and create benchmarks before your analysis needs sophisticate.
Lastly, if you need a quick hit of social media espresso check out Social Mention. It's a great, fast way to check out the sources and frequency of your social network presence. You can also download top keywords, users and hashtags related to your brand.
We operate in markets where conversations about our business go on without us. It's increasingly challenging to keep track of what is being said about us using conventional methods. It's time to get two steps ahead of your customers and use the tools that work best for your business, without it being a resource-hungry task.
With the right information about your online buzz, you can determine how to join the conversation with people who care enough to talk about you. Once you build conversations in the places where your buzz is happening, with openness, transparency and a service-improvement bent, you'll have the influence to turn your customers into brand advocates and ensure your business is fairly represented and defended by the people with something positive to say.
Have you found any other useful low-cost tools?
Main image credit: Maja Dumat
Posted in social media