Dan Schawbel is the author of Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, and owner of the award winning Personal Branding Blog.
Reputation management is essential to both individuals and companies. The more popular your brand is, the more critical it will be to keep tabs on it and the more time it will consume out of your day. If you work at a startup and no one has heard of your brand, or if you’re an individual who has just started blogging, these tools are still useful to you.
If, on the other hand, you’re brand new to social media and aren’t known by many people, then these free tools might be a better place to start.
You should consider paid services if you are unable to manage and keep your pulse on your online reputation. Also, paid services help you analyze and understand the magnitude and sentiment of conversations around your brand, which would take you even longer if you did it manually. Services start out at a minimal price of $1 for individual bloggers and shoot up over $100,000 for large enterprises. If you are considering using a paid service, select the one that best matches your current situation and scale up as your requirements grow.
How to Begin
You need to decide if you want software for tracking conversations or if you want to pay a vendor for consulting and reporting. You might want all three. The difference is the amount of labor you’ll have to expense versus the amount of money you’ll want to spend.
Companies should bring all stakeholders involved in this type of a decision to the table before selecting a vendor to use. The key for success is to figure out what groups within your company can benefit from this type of information. The obvious groups would be in marketing research, public relations, advertising, and then executives, who will not only have to sign-off on this initiative, but are most concerned with how their corporate brand is being portrayed in the media (new/traditional).
Depending on the service you are considering, you may have to select keywords (with pay per keyword/phrase services), so that you can track your competitors, your own products or personal brands within your company. Once you have buy-in and one or more people as dedicated resources to either use the vendor’s software or analyze and communicate their reports and strategies across the business, you are ready to select a vendor.
I recommend the top ten vendors listed below (in no specific order):
Buzzlogic offers the “BuzzLogic Insights” application, where you can discover, engage and assess influencers in your industry. You get a collaborative dashboard, which provides you with insight into whose blogging about you and allows you to share this data within your company. There are also watch lists for tracking specific bloggers, blogger profile lists, and social maps (see who links to who).
They divide their services into two major buckets: marketers and PR people. Marketers gain product feedback, understand brand perception and receive monthly readership statistics. PR people are able to build relationships with influential bloggers, discover new influencers and track products that matter to them.
Radian6 offers a solution, where you can setup certain keywords to monitor on a dashboard, automatically track the keywords on blogs, image sharing sites and microblogging sites, and then have it report back to you with an analysis of the results. Data is captured in real-time as discovered and delivered to dashboard analysis widgets.
The solution covers all forms of social media including blogs, top video and image sharing sites, forums, opinion sites, mainstream online media and emerging media like Twitter. Conversational dynamics are constantly tallied to track the viral nature of each post.
3. TNS Cymfony
TNS Cymfony offers the Orchestra Platform, which is built on a Natural Language Processing engine that automatically identifies, classifies, qualifies and benchmarks important people, places, companies and topics for you.
The platform is able to decipher between different media sources, such as traditional media and social media. Cymfony’s differentiation is that their engine dissects articles, paragraphs and sentences to determine who and what is being talked about, whether something or someone is a key focus or a passing reference, and how the various entities mentioned relate to one another.
Nielsen offers Buzzmetrics, which will supply you with key brand health metrics and consumer commentary from all consumer-generated media. They also have ThreatTracker, which alerts of real-time online reputation threats and gives you a scorecard to show you how you’re doing relative to the competition.
Nielsen has a very strong brand name as the world’s leading provider of marketing information, audience measurement, and media products and services. Pete Blackshaw, father of consumer-generated media, is one of the leaders in charge of this powerful service.
Trackur offers a monitoring plan for individuals ($18 per month), companies ($88), enterprises ($197) and agencies (N/A). Like many of the other services mentioned, Trackur works around your keywords and then organizes the results for you in the form of a Dashboard. Depending on the package, you’ll be able to save more keyword searches and have more frequent updates to your Dashboard.
Trackur was built by one of the leading experts in reputation management, Andy Beal, which gives the service some added credibility.
6. Brands Eye
Brands Eye offers reputation management packages for bloggers ($1 per month), small businesses ($95) and enterprises ($350). The tool tracks every online mention of your brand, giving you a score that accurately reflects the state of your reputation over time. Part of the differentiation is that you can actually tag mentions of your brand and rank them in terms of a number of pre-determined criteria.
Like many of the other services, you are paying for keywords that you can track. The frequency of how many times you receive updates grows depending on how big your package is.
7. Reputation Defender
Reputation Defender offers four different services, including MyChild (starting at $14.95 per month), MyReputation ($14.95), MyPrivacy ($9.95) and MyEdge ($99). MyChild scours the Internet for all references to your child or teen by name, screen name or social network profile and reports back to you. MyReputation allows you to review everything that is available to you online, and MyPrivacy allows you to remove your personal information from people search databases, such as Pipl and Peek You.
Finally, MyEdge is a solution for owning your Google results. All of these services scale in size depending on your need and how much money you want to spend.
8. Sentiment Metrics
Sentiment Metrics has a reputation management tool that, just like the other services mentioned, helps you monitor what is being said about you, your brand and your products across blogs, forums and news sites. The reports you’ll receive by using this software focus on sentiment (it’s in the name), which tells you if the mention is positive, negative or neutral.
The reports have nice visual graphs and you can break them down by gender, age groups and location. One of the big differentiators and benefits of using this service is that you get email alerts sent to you whenever you have bad press.
9. Visible Technologies
Visible Technologies offers two different services. The first is TruCast, which is a comprehensive solution for social media analysis and participation used by enterprises who want to track, analyze and participate in social media communities. The differentiation here is that you can comment on blogs and forums directly from the tool they provide.
The second is TruView, which protects and promotes reputations online. This service is similar to Reputation Defender’s MyEdge in how it helps you take ownership of your Google results by ensuring there is positive and relevant content at the top of search engines for your brand name.
Cision offers the Cision Social Media service, which claims to monitor over 100 million blogs, tens of thousands of online forums, and over 450 leading rich media sites. One of the main benefits, just like Nielsen Buzzmetrics, is that these companies have been monitoring and measuring traditional media sites for decades, so they can provide a more comprehensive solution across the board.
Cision’s product is unique in that it offers 24/7 buzz reporting. Their service is powered by Radian6, which is mentioned above. They also have a Dashboard and daily reports, just like the other services, where they tell you what’s going on with your brand twice a day through email.
Depending on your work schedule, business needs, how popular your brand name is and how much money you want to invest in reputation management, any of these services may be of great assistance to you. And using a fee-based reputation management service, in combination with a number of free services, is a wise decision. Most of the services above aren’t real-time, so subscribing to Google alerts and Twitter feeds is still very important for monitoring your brand.
The sooner you get ahold of what people are saying about your brand and plan how you will respond and manage those relationships, the more successful you will be in social media. This area is still relatively new and no company has gotten it 100% right yet. The complicated part of monitoring a brand in a social world is that humans are needed (human error). Some posts are sarcastic or others are using brands as examples to illustrate a bigger idea and these tools may respond differently.
Now we get to see which vendors use their own services to monitor their brand names. Let’s see who comments on this post
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