This may be a 101 level post for some, but I think it still bears putting out there.Â One of the things that I hear most often from people who are contemplating getting into social media is that it seems really overwhelming.Â
With so many different services, blogs, and sites out there,Â small business owners and other marketers who are usually already stretched thin often figure that monitoring and participating in social media will require a time commitment and technical savvy that they just don’t have.
Not true.Â It’s better to participate at a level you can manage than to ignore social media altogether.Â
So here is a quick and dirty guide to setting up basic social media monitoring, using free tools and only a half hour or less per day.Â
Step 1.Â Google Alerts.Â Â Go to www.google.com/alerts.Â Google Alerts will send you emails at regular intervals (either once a week, once a day, or “as it happens”) with linksÂ to web pages that include your brand or company name, or yourÂ product, or whatever keyword youÂ request.Â Â Start with your brand name, company name, and any other trademarked terms.Â Eventually you may expand to get alerts on competitor keywords or generic, non-brand keywords in your industry.
Step 2. Delicious.Â Go to www.delicious.com. (Yup, they finally got rid of the painfully awkward del.icio.us URL.Â Â That one still works, but now you can use the much easier delicious.com).Â When you get your Google Alerts emails, any relevant links can and should be bookmarked in your Delicious account.Â Tag it with your brand, company or product name.Â You might also create “action tags.”Â For example, you can tag links “comment” if you want to comment on a blog post later,Â “link”Â if you want to link back to it on your website or blog, or “reference” if you want to include it in offline communications, like a printed newsletter.
Step 3. Don’t forget photos and videos.Â Â Go to YouTube and Flickr.Â Create an account for your company or brand.Â Â Do a searchÂ weekly or monthly for your brand keywords, and “favorite” any that are generally positive and/or interesting.Â Â On YouTube,Â user-generated videos that you favorite show up in your “channel.”Â On Flickr, you can create interestingÂ slideshows and publish your “favorites” in a variety of ways.Â Â If you can’t find specific brand or company references, you might try more generalÂ product,Â industry or topic keywords.
Step 4. Claim your name on Facebook and Twitter.Â Go to www.facebook.com and create a Facebook “page”Â (click the “Advertising” link in the footer on Facebook to get there.)Â Â A “Page” is a corporate or brand owned Facebook profile–“Groups” are consumer or fan owned.Â Â Populate it with at a minimum, your logo and basic information.Â Go to www.twitter.com and create a profile associate with your brand or company name.Â Right now, just concentrate on claiming the space for your brand name.Â For the Facebook page, you probably will want to check it at least weekly.Â As people begin to “fan” your page, they’ll be able to post pictures and “wall posts,” so you’ll want to just scan it for appropriateness.Â
Weekly, do a search on Facebook and http://search.twitter.com for references to your brand.Â Tweets don’t always get included in the Google index, and Facebook is entirely outside of it (thus content there may not show up in your Alerts).Â You can use Delicious to mark items to follow up on.
Step 5.Â Go back to Delicious.Â Look up your action tags and take care of those action items.Â Comment on the blog posts marked “comment.”Â Compile the “link” tagged items into a link post.Â Lather, rinse, repeat.Â
This is what I would consider a very basic, elementary level social media monitoring program that you could do in 30 minutes or less a week, using only free tools.Â See, it’s not that intimidating, right?Â
Is there WAY more that you could do? Sure–and depending on the size of your company, you may need way more than this.Â But this is what I would personally consider “dipping your toe” in social mediaÂ a very low-anxiety, low-effort way.