I just turned 40. I’m told that one of the best things about being 40 is that you stop caring about what other people think about you, and making decisions based on that. While that might be true for my personal life, it might not be good advice for your business.
One of the major resistances that I hear from people who are afraid to jump into social media is that they are afraid that they won’t be able to control their message, or brand. “People will talk about us,” they say, “and they might say things that are not in line with our company’s corporate message.” And they’re right. But the truth of the matter is, people are going to be talking about you, whether you give them the tools to do so or not.
I often will tweet about excellent customer service, or lack thereof. A couple months back, I went to buy a futon. I drove half-way across town to a futon shop, only to find it closed, even though I was there during the time that they were supposed to be open. What was the second thing I did after phoning the owner and telling him he just lost my business? I twittered it.
It is imperative that you keep an eye on what people are saying about you. That way, if it’s something negative, you can do damage control. If it’s something positive, you can use that person and their message to help spread the word.
Here are a couple of ways for you to monitor the airwaves:
Set up a Google Alert: go to http://www.google.ca/alerts. Create alerts for yourself for your name and the name of your business. Every time your name comes up, you will receive an email from Google.
Twitter Alerts: Go to search.twitter.com, and type in your name. It will tell you if anyone is talking about you right now. Do the same for your twitter user name, just in case someone mentioned you without @ing you. This can be time-consuming, so there are a couple of other options. One is monitter, which works like a Google Alert, only for Twitter. If you are using a Twitter platform like TweetDeck or Seesmic, create a column that continuously searches for your name. You could also try TwitterFall.
Blog links: If you have a WordPress Blog, WordPress automatically monitors any incoming links. If anyone links to one of your posts, it will show up as a pingback in the “incoming links” section. When someone quotes or references me, I’ll often go and drop a comment thanking them in that blog post.
There is one other application to using these monitoring tools. If you’ve been doing keyword research on your blog or business (ie: you know what the top keywords are that people use when doing a Google search to find you), you can set up monitors for those key words. Then, let’s say someone posts a question to Twitter: “Thinking about buying X. Anyone know of a good one?” If you are in the business of selling X, and you receive an alert, you can immediately suggest yours.