Do you get emails from Google Alerts whenever your org is mentioned on the Web? Great!
Now I’ll show you how to take your brand monitoring strategy up a notch.
Google Alerts by email is one of the Web’s original keyword monitoring tools. However, the content that Google Alerts monitors for your keyword search isn’t comprehensive, search terms and Alerts accounts can be hard to manage internally when multiple people are involved, and we get too much email as it is!
Fortunately, RSS feeds offer a much more efficient way of making sure we’re in the know when someone’s talking about us or our organization on the Web. (If you need a primer on RSS feeds, check out “the Oprah way” of explaining how RSS works.)
To get started with making the transition to monitoring with RSS feeds, you first need a feed reader. There are a bunch of options to choose from if you don’t already have a favorite. Carie Lewis at the Humane Society, for example, uses iGoogle for brand monitoring, and Amy Sample Ward uses Netvibes to keep track of keywords that are relevant to her. I use Google Reader, so that’s what I’ll talk about here. Google Reader offers a centralized, Web-based approach to organizing your RSS feeds, sharing feed content with others, and learning about your feed-reading trends with built-in analytics. It’s pretty nifty! And, you can share a single reader account between multiple people since it’s totally Web-based.
Whether you’re monitoring the Web for mentions of your brands, executives, peer organizations, or other chatter that’s important to you, it’s critical that your monitoring is comprehensive—which I mentioned is one of the pitfalls of relying solely on Google Alerts. To be comprehensive, the content you monitor must be inclusive of mainstream news media, blogs and blog comments, Twitter, video- and photo-sharing sites, discussion forums, wikis, and more—none of which is comprehensively monitored by a single service, so you’ll need to construct a dashboard consisting of not one, but multiple feeds that dynamically search for the stuff you’re looking for.
So, which search services should you get your feeds from? Above is a screenshot from Google Reader of the feeds we monitor at Cross-Cultural Solutions for the keyword phrase, “cross-cultural solutions,” which are inclusive of a wide range of content indexed by the following services:
- BackType: A “real-time, conversational search engine.”
- Bloglines: Blog and news search.
- BlogPulse: Blog search.
- BoardReader: Forum and discussion board search.
- Feedky: Video search.
- Google Blog Search: You guessed it.
- Google News: Right again!
- Google Video: Yup, videos. Including YouTube.
- Icerocket: Blog search.
- Social Mention: “Like Google Alerts, but for social media.”
- Technorati: And another blog search.
To get your own RSS feeds of search terms, just click on the RSS feed icon (like this: ) in your browser’s address bar after doing your search on any of these services and subscribe to it in Google Reader. If you’d like, you can also grab a “comprehensive” RSS feed version of your currently-emailed Google Alerts instead of turning them off altogether—but, keep in mind that, despite the fact that Google Alerts are individually available for Google News, Blogs, Web search, Video and Groups, the “comprehensive” alert only includes News, Web search, and Blogs.
Once you have your feed list squared-away, it’s time to have a look through all that lovely, relevant content that’s neatly organized in one place. You’re bound to find duplicates here and there between the services, of course, but each feed will likely pick up content that another hasn’t. Feel free to experiment with a bunch of other services, too! What you actually do with this content now is the subject of another blog post or three :)
Have I left any services out?