Do You Know Where Your Brand Is Online?

The other day, I was talking with David Allison, editor of the Atlanta Business Chronicle, about consumers discussing brands online. At one point David said, “I bet most Atlanta companies are blissfully unaware of what’s being said about them on Technoratti.” Now, we’ve talked about social media creating brand evangelists here, but David got me wondering how many PR pros are looking at what’s being said about their clients online? How many are seizing opportunities to turn around dissastisfied customers? And, how many are making hay of their fans’ positive comments within social media.

The Stats

According to Nuance Care Solutions, 72% of survey respondents use social media to research a company’s reputation for customer care before making a purchase; and 74% choose to do business with companies based on the experiences shared by others online. Meanwhile, 59% said they regularly use social media to “vent” about their customer service frustrations. Only 33% of respondents said they believe companies take online complaints seriously.

Turn The Tide

While it’s always risky to engage negative posters, (I would advise you not feed the trolls), monitoring and responding to genuine customer complaints online can be a great way to catch a problem early and turn it around. Demonstrating a desire to solve the problem can ultimately result in positive posts. In fact, most of the time angry customers really just want to vent and a savvy PR pro can turn the tide of negativity by simply showing a genuine interest in solving a customer’s dissatisfaction.

Watch Competitor Talk Too

It can be very useful to monitor what customers are saying about the competition (good and bad comments). This way you can ensure your messaging counters competitive claims and/or demonstrates how your product succeeds where their’s fails.

Find Good Stories To Tell

There is such a great opportunity for PR professionals to identify brand evangelists and develop campaigns around them. A fan of Lego’s, Mike Stimpson, recently re-created some of the most famous photos in pop culture history using nothing but the colorful building bricks and characters. While the images appeared on blogs and news aggregate sites like, I couldn’t help but wonder if The Lego Group’s PR team would promote his work. There is a great story there. (I could see a spot on Ellen, Today or Letterman). What inspired him to do this? How long did it take? Why did he choose certain photos? Why did he choose Lego’s? (The most important question of all).

But, like so many brands, The Lego Group seems to be missing a great opportunity to promote their customer telling the brand’s story. Fact is, those photos depict the fun of Lego’s. That is the message this guy is getting out there and The Lego Group should jump in and grow the story. By identifying and promoting brand evangelists within social media PR Pros can generate new story ideas for press.

How To Monitor

Okay, so, how do you find what people are saying in every corner of the web? There are a lot of great tools to seek these conversations online.

Google and Yahoo Alerts for keywords in search engines.

Google Blog Search to search blogs that don’t index on the main or news page.

Yahoo Pipes give you an aggregate and mashup of multiple feeds.

BlogPulse is a great way to identify trends across blogs.

Google Trends measures the level of interest in particular topics.

Compete is a great way to track rivals.

Serph is an all-in-one social media search engine.

Keotag is similar to Serph.

Tweetscan lets you search keywords within Twitter.

Commentful lets you track comments and trackbacks within blogs and some boards.

BoardReader and BoardTracker are great for following board/forum conversations.

Radian6 is a rather newer tracker. They focus more on videos and multimedia.

As I’ve said many times here before: social media has changed the game. We have more opportunities for story-telling than we’ve ever had before. We just need the opportunistic thinking to go along with it. We need to get out there and to turn negatives to positives while giving a bigger microphone to those who endorse us (or our clients).

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