When I talk about one of the first rules of the internet, I tell people to listen first. Listen to what is being asked online, what problems people are trying to solve, and what others are saying as it relates to your area of expertise. And one of the easiest ways to actively listen online is to use a tool called Google Alerts.
Google Alerts is a tool for actively monitoring your brand, your industry and your competitors. You simply use a Google email address and log-in to www.Google.com/Alerts . The idea then is to set up alerts on the key terms and the type of content you want to look for. And you can select to be alerted to certain types of content like blog posts containing those terms, videos, or news articles, etc.
There are 5 key alerts that every business owner should be monitoring:
1. Monitor your name. You want to be aware of anything that is being said about you online. This way, you can take advantage of anything positive that’s being said and you can acknowledge and thank those that are saying great things about you.
2. Monitor your company name. Again the same principle applies here – if someone is saying great things about your company, you want to thank them. And if someone is complaining about you or your company online, it’s not the end of the world. I look at this positively because in this scenario, they’re at least giving you an opportunity to fix the issue. Often times, when someone is unhappy, they’ll tell other people, but for some reason, they don’t always tell the business. When they post a less than flattering review online, in this case, you at least have the opportunity to fix it and you have the opportunity to fix it in a public way so that others see that you’re making the effort to make things right.
3. Monitor any trademarked or specialty named programs and services you offer. This makes it easier to monitor feedback on all of your offerings. And if you’re a franchise, it allows you the opportunity to use any of that feedback to your advantage, even if they don’t specifically mention your location or company name.
4. Popular industry terms or trending topics. Because the internet has given us the ability to respond in real time, keeping abreast of what’s trending in your industry gives you the opportunity to become known as an expert if you’re responding and commenting on a real-time basis.
5. Your competition. Using Google alerts to keep track of your competition provides you with an automated way of knowing what the competition is up to and helping you understand how you might have to be prepared to respond under certain circumstances.
With Google alerts, you set the frequency with which you receive the alerts and you may decide to change that level of frequency with each alert. For example, for your name and your company name, I would suggest having these alerts delivered as the mentions happen and perhaps using the same level of frequency for trending topics. For keeping track of the competition, you may set these up to deliver daily and for key words, you may set these alerts to deliver once a week. This is truly a tool you can use as part of your arsenal of automation.