What are they saying about you?
The small business world is starting to become a real force to be reckoned with, and the internet has become the defining catalyst for this relatively recent market shift. It is important to realize that, like it or not, people will be talking about you online. Even the smallest business will develop a reputation amongst its customers. The internet is just a larger and more efficient platform for the same word of mouth marketing that has been around forever, and staying on top of your online presence is a must for anyone hoping to succeed against the myriad of other businesses in the global marketplace. Here’s a little bit of information to get you started:
One of the best ways to get feedback for online branding is to monitor what people are saying about you on social media. Having accounts for your business on (at the very least) Facebook and Twitter will help you to see what people are saying about you. They can make comments about, or directly to, your business and you can monitor them pretty easily, but staying on top of what’s being said doesn’t end there. People may be talking about you on various social media outlets, but they may not always be tagging your business in their posts and tweets. For this scenario, we recommend using websites like socialmention.com or topsy.com. These are sites that provide free searches for social media. For instance, if your customer has a great experience and follows up with a Facebook post about you, but fails to tag your page, these websites will allow you to find their comment using a search function similar to Google. You can even run specific searches with keywords and operators to filter down the results to only those that pertain to you. We don’t advocate inserting yourself into every single conversation online that people are having about you, but it’s certainly good to know what they are saying. Occasionally, there is a real opportunity to make a good impression with timely online engagement. This real-time feedback can be invaluable to a small business; especially one that is service oriented.
In addition to monitoring social media streams for your business, we also recommend monitoring more mainstream types of media such as online magazines and newspapers, and blogs. These are easier to keep track of because they will show up in Google as “News.” You could run a Google News search for your business name in quotation marks, and the results that come back would be limited to online articles and blog posts that mention you specifically; however, as more people write about you, these results will change periodically. You would have to repeat this search everyday to stay current on the results. Instead, you can have Google do it for you by creating a Google Alert. This just means that anytime something new pops up as a result for your search of choice, Google will automatically send you an email alerting you to the presence of the new content. To setup a Google Alert, go to google.com/alerts. Here you can enter search terms the same way as in a regular Google search as well as choose result type, how often it will check the results, how many results it will list, and finally, what email address to have the results sent to. This way, anytime there is new content that concerns your business, you will be notified via email.
Now that you have some good tools at your disposal for keeping up with what others are saying about your business online, you can start down the road of being able to steer the conversation through interaction, rather than watching from the sidelines. Check out our home page to learn more about how to affectively use the internet to improve your business.
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