With the explosion of Consumer Generated Media (CGM), ongoing monitoring of your personal or professional reputation has become a must. Consumer Generated Media consists largely of social networking websites; blogs; photo, audio and video sharing sites; discussion boards; and any other website that allows users to share their experience, opinion and knowledge.
Facebook, Twitter, BlogSpot, WordPress… people update and write about anything, anywhere, anytime. In fact, they might be writing about you. You can imagine the devastating ramifications of negative word of mouth about your company or yourself. However, you can be proactive and monitor online reputations before disaster strikes. You can monitor your name, product feedback, services, company, competitors, employers, even enemies. The sky is the limit and the tools are easy to set up and free to use, so take advantage of them.
Here are ten free basic tools to monitor one’s online reputation:
10. Yahoo! Site Explorer
Monitor the external links to your blog, corporate website or personal web page through Yahoo’s Site Explorer. This free tool allows you to check who is linking back to your site. There is a very high probability that people who post negative comments, also provide a link to their source of disappointment.
9. Google SideWiki
Google SideWiki is a very useful browser plug-in that allows any Gmail user to annotate or post comments on any website. This web annotation feature also allows the website owner to leave an owners comment on their Sidewiki. It will appear at the top of all other listings. It is very important to regularly check your SideWiki entries to prevent spam and abuse or to address negative feedback. Don’t be offended if there are some legitimate negative comments, but make sure you address them: contact the complainer, post a comment letting the person know you’ve contacted them directly, and take the conversation offline.
This tool will check the availability of your personal/corporate name or username on over 400 popular social networking and bookmarking platforms. Knowem is a good way to discover if someone is posing as you or if it’s just a coincidence. Checking usernames is becoming essential also for trademark protection and to protect yourself and your business from identity theft.
Delicious, the world’s premier social bookmarking service, is another handy tool. Almost everybody is bookmarking nowadays, so start discovering web bookmarks that mention your name, services, or competitors. Use the search box or the Delicious tag page to monitor your online reputation.
If you have been facing online reputation problems and you want to keep an eye on a particular website, Versionista monitors any change of the web page of interest, visually showing the exact words and sentences that have been added or removed. It alerts you by sending email notifications.
SamePoint is a useful social media search and analytic platform that allows you to analyze millions of user-generated conversations and monitor online reputations. It is easily accessible, simply type your query into the search box and analyze the social tone: whether it is positive or negative. The “Social Tone” feature indicates how many negative/positive words have been found in the post. Remember to subscribe to your tracking feed.
SocialMention allows you to easily monitor and measure what people are saying about you, your organization, a new service, or any topic across the online social media landscape in real-time. According to SocialMention, “the tool monitors 100+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc.” You can create various alerts (similar to Google Alerts) based on your choice of search phrase.
Twitter is one of the most popular and powerful social networking services. Conduct a search for your target keyword and then subscribe via RSS to get fresh search results. The TwitterSearch plug-in will help you find people by name, if you don’t know their Twitter account. It is a great plug-in. Type in “toptenz” and you will see for yourself. You can subscribe to the feed of your search query.
Technorati is a leading search engine of the blogosphere. It indexes millions of blogs in real time. Technorati is probably the best tool to monitor blogger conversations. Conduct a search using the Technorati search box and if you are not happy with the returned results, try using quotation marks, for example: “toptenz”. Subscribe to the RSS feed and check it periodically.
1. Google Alerts
One of my favorite free tools is, of course, Google Alerts– a powerful content monitoring service. It’s a great way to stay informed. Google Alerts monitor both social and traditional media. You will receive email updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your search term. If your Web search query contains two or more words, use quotation marks around your phrase to tell Google Alerts exactly what to retrieve. For instance, a Google Alert for “online reputation software” works better with quotes. Here’s a great trick: use negative keywords. If your name is similar (or the same) to another organization or another person, use the search phrase “your name –characteristic of the other company/person” as an alert. Using the negative keyword, Google Alerts will exclude almost all results about the second one. Let’s say that my name is John Smith and I am a Human Resources Manager but Johnsmithsport.com is the corporate website of a Spanish designer. The search phrase “John Smith -johnsmithsport.com” will eliminate results related to his website from my alert. The Google Alerts service has several other settings to help you customize your updates.
What free online tools do you use to monitor?
by Timeea Vinerean