Keeping Tabs on Your Customers

Fri, Mar 27, 2009

Business Tactics

There was a time when most communications between a business and its customers was one-way. The business sent out the message and the customer could either accept or reject it. Think of television advertising and adverts in the newspaper as examples of this. Today, however, we are entering what marketing professionals are calling the 3rd generation of marketing – the social media sphere. In this environment communication is bi-directional and may be kicked off as much by the customer as the business itself. Therefore it’s important to keep your ear to the wall to find out what your customers are saying about you and to actively participate in the discussions with them. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you do this at low cost and with relative ease.

The first tool you should have under your belt is Google Alerts which tracks search results, Google Groups, Google News, Google Video and the blogosphere. This extremely easy to use tool will send you an e-mail summary every time your search term appears – the e-mail can be sent as it happens (in Google time), once a day or once a week. At the very least I recommend that every company be searching for mentions of the company name to keep track of what’s being said about them and by whom.

Next we’re going to talk about Twitter and tweets – no, this isn’t a new species of birds, but rather it’s the hottest tool out there for micro-blogging. Twitter lets people send short (140 character or less ) messages out from their computer, cell phone or other mobile device. Twitter is by far one of the products marketers far and wise have their eye on now for expanding their media presence. Searching is not as automated as Google but a new interface launched recently at lets you search for topics and get updates as they happen. There are also a number of third party apps that tie into Twitter to provide this functionality as well – my favorite happens to be TwitterDeck.

What about the video and photos sites such as YouTube and Flickr? You may think you don’t need to monitor these, but remember the world is much more than static text nowadays. Many people are posting videos of their praise (or anger) of companies on Youtube, as well as participating in viral marketing. Some people even make their own commercials for their favorite companies and post them for all to see. Not only can you find people talking about your company through photo or video, but you can also find a wide array of video that might spark ideas within your company as well.

We talked already about searching blogs through Google Alerts, but I’d also like to encourage you to use Google Reader to keep track of bloggers that you enjoy and other topics of interest. Anything with an RSS feed can be put into Google Reader and organized for you. One of the best features of Google Reader is its ability to keep track of statistics of who is reading what and how many subscribers a blog has – valuable marketing insight for free!

Finally, I’d like to talk about the social networking sites – Facebook, Myspace and the like. It’s important to get your business online and setup on these sites to interact with your customers and to find out what people are thinking about your company. Many companies from Sears to Kellogs have Facebook pages that let their customers interact with them and also provides a rich media channel for you to push material out to them and get feedback. Its part of that third generation of marketing we were talking about above!

So now that you know that your customers are talking about you and where, it’s time to get busy monitoring and participating in the conversation – you might be surprised at what you learn just by listening!

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This post was written by:

Cassiano Travareli - who has written 90 posts on SEO Blog | SEO Marketing World.

SEO Specialist! Loves everything about Search Engine Marketing.