Reputation Monitoring with Twitter

Like blogging before it, Twitter has pushed us even further into an era of an unprecedented for reputation monitoring. Never had it been so easy for an anonymous writer to either help or harm a brand with comments, well-founded or not.

One tool that I have blogged about before makes reputation monitoring on Twitter extremely easy. TweetDeck is a slick Adobe Air app that sits on your desktop and notfies you of Tweets as they come in. Set up a column that is essentially a search for your company’s (or product’s) name and will give you a little buzz anytime something comes in. This is a tremendous way to find out what people think about your customer service, what companies are evaluating your solutions, etc. If you have not done this before, you will probably find that there is quite a bit more chatter than you may have expected.

TweetDeck

TweetDeck

If you do see something about your brand, definitely feel free to join the conversation. If someone says something negative, address it, offer to point them to support, etc. If someone says something positive, thank them for it. It encourages your clients and prospects to continue the conversation, which is definitely something that you want for your brand.

Google Alerts are important for less time sensistive monitoring but so far nothing beats Twitter when it comes to stream of consciousness monitoring.

Google Is a Harsh Mistress

SEM is immediate and SEO is gradual right? That’s what I used to think. I’ve been spending the last month really optimizing our site for a specific keyword, expecting the return on the time investment to pay off 6-12 months down the road. I was quite surprised to see today that we were in fact listed on Google’s first page — an improvement from page three just a month or so ago.

Sure enough, four hours later, we were on page two. It was fun while it lasted. 

It is amazing how easy it is to become oddly obsessed with Google’s results for your industry keyword(s). When you launch your corporate site, you are happy to rank anywhere. Then you aim for the first page. Then you shoot to be in the first five results. When will I start getting some sleep?

The experience described above does tell me that we are on the right track though. I have been using a few very good SEO resources that I would recommend:

SEOmoz Blog

The SEOmozBlog posts meaningful SEO tips every few days. It is quite widely read and the comments after each post can be insightful as well. I also follow them on Twitter @SEOmoz

HubSpot Blog

The HubSpot Blog provides great thought leadership for SMB marketing. HubSpot demystifies SEO and social media for smaller companies. I follow HubSpot on Twitter @HubSpot

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is vital for anyone serious about mainting good SEO practices on his or her site. You can see which, if any of your pages, have duplicate content and which Google has trouble indexing. Combining this with 301 redirects and custom 404 pages really helps change the way visitors and search engines see your website.

Twittering your way to B2B success

In his B2B lead generation blog, Brian Carroll recently posed the question “Can a social media like Twitter boost your lead generation results?” He answers that question with a definitive “yes.” 

If you are a B2B company and you are not already on Twitter, I would definitely dive in. Your customers are already there. 

Within the first few days of using Twitter we were doing all of the following:

Crowdsourcing ideas for product enhancements by working with our users

Providing tips and how-to examples on our product

Sharing industry news or relevant blog posts, even those of a competitor

Finding competitive intelligence

Conducting ad-hoc surveys/focus groups on a range of topics

Announcing new releases, blog posts, and more via a corporate account

I would recommend taking taking a look at TweetDeck, a very cool Twitter monitoring application, made with Adobe Air (itself a very nice application framework).  Set up a permanent search for your company or product name and you will be surprised at what comes in. 

TweetDeck

TweetDeck

 People are already talking about you so why not join the conversation.

Social Networking: How B2B Companies Can Leverage This Trend

There’s been a lot of talk lately on how social networking websites have become a popular way for B2C companies to engage their consumers while gathering feedback on their products. As B2C companies start to jump on this bandwagon, marketers question the validity of social networking in the B2B context. Undeniably, word of mouth is a powerful marketing tactic: a recent study by market research firm Keller Faye Group concluded that it was the leading influencer of business purchase decisions. Which leads us to ask how social networking websites can be used to facilitate two-way dialog in such a way that replicates word of mouth on a grander scale. 

An argument against the use of social networking in B2B is that this business model does not allow for the same kind of “buzz” around a brand as in the B2C model, which can leverage the power of viral campaigns. For these to work, the initiative must excite passion on a wide scale – a prerequisite that is not consistent with a B2B product. It is safe to say that YouTube videos, dancing elves and other character personalization games would not be a fit with the B2B model. However, to say that social networking would not benefit these companies would be neglecting the opportunities that exist when you facilitate a dialogue among your customers. Granted, the conversation will take place among fewer individuals, whose similarities will lie not in their personal passions but in their business tasks. It’s the same idea, though: through a web-based dialog customers are simultaneously interacting with your brand while providing a large-scale, low-cost online focus group.

The question becomes where and how to create a platform for this conversation. This post from Barry Hannigan’s blog gives examples of how larger technology companies have implemented social media into their corporate websites, facilitating knowledge exchange through an internal platform. By contrast, other B2B firms place content on websites geared towards social networking, such as ITtoolbox Community Hub, where IT professionals can discuss different vendors through blog posts, topic-based groups and online forums. Should you decide that an external approach would be more appropriate for your company, Rob Murray’s article on SearchEngineLand.com gives guidelines for participating in social networking sites. 

Whether your company decides to facilitate a dialog internally through your own website or through an external social network – the key is to leverage the ability of this new technology to generate user feedback. Never before have such large scale consumer research opportunities been available at such a low cost, and B2B firms should latch onto this trend while it still represents a competitive advantage, rather than a necessity for their company’s survival. Even though social networking will never mean the same thing as it does for B2C companies and we’ll never hear of Cisco-Ize Me, there are still great opportunities to improve your company by learning what it is your customers are talking about.