Image via WikipediaHowsociable is a nice resource, which gives you an overview of your presence within the “social sphere”. It is another version of the tools that I talked about here. You set up your brand/terms that you want to track and it then updates you with an e-mail giving you what the chatter has been about yourself on blogs, social networks and the interwebs at large. You can drill down into the different areas and see how things have changed over time too.
This whole “buzz measurement” has progressed quite a way from searching on technorati, and there are a number of services in this area being offered (and if I look at my inbox I see a lot of proposals coming in from companies offering these services). It’s an interesting bridge between PR and online marketing (which is where I think a lot of social media outreach fits). The immediate application of finding people who are talking about your product (or related) and being able to join in the conversation allows you to put your message out in front of an audience that is interested in the topic. This isn’t advertising, so a third party recommendation tends to resonate well with the audience. As best practice dictates; identify yourself and be honest.
The other great application of these is for fire-fighting. Inevitably there will be an issue with your product or service, and people will talk about it. You would rather be involved in the conversation, apologise and allow your perspective to be heard.
Thirdly its great customer research, people are in their natural environment and will say what they naturally believe as opposed to a more forced response from a questionnaire of focus group.
The conversation is going to be happening, whether you are involved or not. It is better that you are knowledgeable about what people are talking about, and have the ability to react rather than not knowing what is going on.
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