One of the hallmarks of social media is the permanent impression that it leaves in the digital domain. There is a good news and bad news to this fact. The good news is that if you are engaged in social media of any kind your activity leaves a permanent footprint in digital space. This gives you the possibility of long term buzzability over a visual one shot that print ads and direct mail offer.
The bad news is that if you do something stupid or someone out there complains about you or your company, well that stays out there too.
But wait; there is more good news. This permanent digital footprint from social chatter along with all the news going digital leaves a world of opportunities for sales people to learn more about their prospects than ever before.
Today the Internet offers us a unique opportunity to monitor sentiment and reputation and do presales research in just a few minutes. This is a powerful tool that is often overlooked. I am somewhat surprised that some companies are not even using Google Alerts for their own company so I thought that maybe this post might offer some helpful tips on how to get alerts and how to do some basic research.
1. I highly recommend Google Alerts. It is free and it is powerful. You can set as many alerts as you care to have streaming into your inbox and you can even set the frequency from once a week to as it happens. Just go to google.com/alerts and set up alerts for your name, your company name and even keywords if you like. This is the granddaddy of them all as it searches social media as well as other news and listing sites.
2. I like socialmention.com because it offers a pretty thorough report at least for social media searches and has the added bells and whistles of stats that can be most helpful. In particular if you are checking to see how far out your own blog travels this source gives you some trails to follow. Their tool box offers a widget to pull the feed directly into your website or onto your blog. They also have a feed alert that will be emailed to you.
3. You can try whostalkin.com, which I found to be an attractive interface that delivers results that are far from comprehensive but does offer a nice snapshot. They offer an iGoogle gadget to bring the feature to your iGoogle home page, if you even use that feature.
4. You should try howsociable.com as well. The feature I like about this search is that it breaks the results out by images, blogs and mentions by property. I discovered pictures of me posted publically that I wasn’t even aware of. Yes, give it a try and you might be surprised just where you literally show up.
5. Yahoo Pipes – this is a complex search matrix that you first must have a yahoo email address and secondly have the time and patience to build pipelines of source feeds and filters. This is not for the lighthearted search but has a sharing feature so that your pipe can be indexed for search engines and even shared openly.
6. Even if you are not using Twitter, but someone you know is, you can use perkpipe.com to get a stream of who is talking about that person and try a keyword to see who is tweeting on a topic.
7. If you have a twitter account, people search and keyword searches are very powerful right from your twitter page.
This list could go on and on but I hope that it is at least a start. I would love to hear how you use these tools and maybe even offer up some ideas of your own.
Mardy Sitzer is a certified inbound marketing professional and president of Bumblebee Design & Marketing. Since 1993, Mardy has been delivering creative and innovative marketing solutions. An avid reader of all things internet and marketing, she also writes blogs, articles, and web content for industry magazines as well as for Bumblebee’s clients. She is an adjunct professor at Fordham University and instructor at Rutgers University teaching social media for business. Follow her on Twitter or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.