Easy Ways to Monitor What People Are Saying About You

In my last post I talked about nonprofits using social media to reach their audiences — it’s inexpensive and effective. Unfortunately, I also know from personal experience that many people — especially in the nonprofit sector — don’t have time to sit down and learn the best strategies to leverage new technology. So let me lay out a few Cliffs Notes.

One of the cooler features of social media is that it allows you to keep an eye on what people are saying about you. If someone across the planet blogs about your organization, you can know about this almost instantaneously. If that blog post was favorable, you can jump right into the comments and thank them. If that blog post was unfavorable, you leap right into ‘damage control’ mode and address the complaint. If fact, you can do whatever you want with this feed of information once you’re receiving it. It’s kind of like a secret ninja move.

These are sometimes called “vanity feeds.” Here’s how to get them:

Technorati Feeds
Watch the blogs.

  1. Go to Technorati.com
  2. In the search box, type in your name or the name of your organization. If it’s more than one word, use quotation marks.
  3. The results that come up are what all of the publicly-indexed the blogs on the web are saying about you. Just above the search results, you should find a link that says “Subscribe.” Click it!
  4. What you’re looking at now is an RSS feed. You need to take the URL for this page and put it into an RSS reader, so you can be alerted when new things are added to it. If you’re not already using an RSS reader, go get an account with Google Reader and follow their instructions (it’s super easy).

Google Alerts
Watch the web.

  1. Go to Google.com/Alerts
  2. In the search box, type in your name or the name of your organization. If it’s more than one word, use quotation marks.
  3. Leave the search type drop-down at “Comprehensive,” unless you want to ignore some things and just focus on one area.
  4. Leave the “how often” at “once a day,” unless you really prefer otherwise.
  5. Type in your email address and hit “Create Alert.” You’ll get notifications of your presence on the web whenever it comes up.

Note: There’s some overlap between Google Alerts and Technorati — try both and see if you only feel like you need one of them after a few weeks. In my experience, Google Alerts will sometimes repeat the same alert over and over again, which can get annoying (and which is why I don’t recommend receiving Google Alerts “as it happens”). Technorati is a cleaner, more meaningful, and less invasive feed, but it also doesn’t cover the entire web.

Knowing about your reputation on the web is a key step in gaining control of it. But be careful not to get too addicted to watching these feeds… you still have other work to do.

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