By Gail Seymour
There's a lot of advice around telling you to join social networks and use them to build your reputation online. At some point most experts advise you to track the results, and monitor what's being said about you, your company or your brand. Reputation tracking has become a buzz word.
So just how do you go about tracking your reputation, in a time and cost effective way, when you've got so many other demands on your time already?
Outsourcing your Reputation Management
The easy option is to outsource your reputation management. Much as the search engines spawned a whole new search engine optimization (SEO) industry, so social media optimization (SMO) is fast growing out of the need for businesses to track the effectiveness of social media marketing campaigns.
Although this SMO industry is still in its infancy, there are already a large number of companies with Web sites offering to monitor your profiles, gathering and analyzing data, which can then be presented to you in easily digestible formats. Many of these services are expensive, and aimed at larger businesses, but there are a few with low cost entry options for the smaller business.
You enter your keywords, which could be your company or brand names, or the names of key employees. Trackur then returns results for those terms arranged by date. Clicking on links allows you to view the article and designate it as positive, negative or neutral. You can also view the influence of the source, as assessed by Trackur based on the number of Web links pointing to the source domain, the number of blog mentions, estimated traffic and frequency of topic discussion.
BrandsEye offers a “blogger” subscription with the ability to track up to five keywords. It returns a similar list, but results can be tagged with a range of criteria. BrandsEye enables tracking of sentiment from rebuke to acclamation with five options in between. It also allows you to track the source of your mentions, from consumers, enterprise, press or directories, and to view the sources of traffic by credibility. The range of graphs available, and the ability to sort, filter and analyze the information makes BrandsEye a superior product, but only if you are going to put the time in to make the initial assessments of the mentions and their sources.
Monitoring your Profile In-House
If you don't want to use one of these services, you can get an idea of how you're coming across in social media and across the Web using FeedReader, or a similar RSS reading program that includes the ability to set searches. FeedReader searches Delicious, Ebay, Flickr photo, Google Blogs and News, MSN, Technorati, Twitter, Yahoo and YouTube simultaneously for your search terms, can be set to notify you when new mentions are found.
You can also use klout.com to measure how you're interacting on Twitter and check your account with twitblock.org to make sure you're not falling foul of any “spamminess” triggers.
These tools won't give you the bells and whistles of the paid services, but they will help you monitor and act on anything that might impact on your social media reputation.
About the Author
Gail Seymour has been a Web site designer for more than ten years. During that time she has won three Sitesell design awards, and has provided the content and copy for dozens of Web sites and more than 50,000 Web pages.