Simple Tools to Monitor What People Say About Your Company Online

Last Updated Aug 11, 2011 10:41 AM EDT

The social media explosion generates an overwhelming flow of information. Fortunately, most of it you can choose to ignore -- except what people say about you and your business.

That you never can choose to ignore.

To make it easier, there are simple tools you can use to monitor social media and keep track of what people say about you, your competitors, your industry, or any other topic you want to follow.

Recently Leslie Lee, an associate at the public relations and social media agency Inkhouse, put together a comprehensive list of social media monitoring tools.

Here are several I tried based on her recommendations:

  • TweetDeck. TweetDeck sorts social media mentions by keywords, twitter handles, hashtags... a number of options. Keep in mind searching for popular topics is like turning on a fire hose of information but, unless you're Lady Gaga, monitoring your mentions should be manageable.
  • Social Mention. Social Mention searches for keywords on blogs, comments, news, videos, and microblogging services, and generates metrics for those keywords.
  • Trackur. Trackur sifts through sources like Twitter, Digg, Flickr, blogs, videos, etc. Try the free version and decide if you want to pay for a monthly plan (upgrade plans can get fairly expensive.)
  • Google Alerts. An oldie but a goodie. Enter keywords or phrases and when Google sees them mentioned it delivers alerts immediately, daily, or weekly.
  • BoardReader. Google indexes many discussion boards and forums, but certainly not all. BoardReader crawls blogs, forums, images, and microblogs.
Each of the above works fairly well, but each also has limitations.

For example, a mention sometimes won't appear in one tracking tool but will in another. And occasionally the "sentiment" -- some tools categorize mentions as positive, negative, or neutral -- won't be accurate.

So try them and see how they work for you. (And for more options check out Leslie's full post for descriptions of other tools like Topsy, Klout, and IceRocket.)

With a little testing you can determine which tools are best for monitoring conversations about your company, your brand, your products -- and your competition. (Or even an old girlfriend.)

After all, what you don't know could kill your business.

Note to readers: Feel free to share any tools or strategies in the Comments below; my list is far from comprehensive!

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    Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business from managing a 250-employee book manufacturing plant. Everything else he picked up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest CEOs and leaders in business. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon's bestseller list. Follow him on Twitter at @Jeff_Haden.