In my last post, I explained how you can use social media to identify the main trends and issues in your industry. Now, I’ll discuss how to find out where your target audience is getting information and what people are saying about you.
Where are your target audiences getting information?
Every industry talks to one another on places like Facebook, LinkedIn Answers, Twitter, Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, YouTube, forums, mailing lists, and link aggregation sites like Digg and delicious.
Have you asked customers what they read online and in print? Are there specific trade publications or journalists they follow? Bloggers? Trade shows? Webinars? Are they on Facebook and Twitter?
Let your customers know that you are on the same social media sites as them. Display it on their website, put it in your company’s email signature, add it to press releases, hang signs at trade show booths, and include it in online marketing campaigns.
iGoogle lets you create a personalised homepage that contains a Google search box at the top and your choice of any number of gadgets. Gadgets come in different forms and provide access to activities and information from all across the web, without ever having to leave your iGoogle page. Here are some things you can do with gadgets:
– View your latest Gmail messages
– Read headlines from Google News and other news sources–use it to track what the media and others are saying about your company
– Check out weather forecasts and stock quotes
– Store bookmarks for quick access to your favourite sites from any computer
– Design your own gadget
What are your customers, partners, employees and the media saying about you?
Monitoring your reputation is critical. Again, one of the most direct ways to find an answer is to ask. Find out if there are any discussion groups or forums in which you appear. Getting customers to put their thoughts in writing on a questionnaire or survey is a time-tested way to get feedback.
Use Twitter’s Advanced Search to find out what people are saying about your company and brand. Just type in the word or phrase you want and from there you can find which Tweets contain it.
Take it a step further and set up columns in TweetDeck, your personal, real-time Twitter browser, which allows you to view several contacts you are following at the same time. By connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google Buzz and more, you can better monitor the people you are following on a daily basis. This is extremely valuable during product launches, for example.
You can also set up Tweetbeep to send you a daily email with a list of all the mentions of your defined brand on Twitter.
As with Twitter, there are many ways to evaluate media coverage. Was it the right sort of press coverage? Did it reach the right people? You can judge the tone (positive, negative or neutral) and volume (how much your company was included or quoted). Did the article include your core messages? Or did your competitors dominate the article?
A fun way to see the most common words in a blog post or article is Wordle. Simply paste text into the Wordle engine and see what words dominate. If Wordle is too simple for you, try Tagxedo which allows users to control to font, colour, orientation and even shape of their cloud.
Social media…online networking…or whatever we call it…is constantly evolving. Finding your place in this etherworld takes time and there is no one right or wrong way. What works for one launch might not work as well for another. The important thing is to start experimenting with a couple of tools and building up your network…or whatever you’d like to call it.
Davida Dinerman has been a member of Schwartz Communications team since 1996. She works in the Security, Healthcare IT and Services Practice Groups.
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