With today’s user-generated content overload, tracking your brand mentions is a must. You can consider various free and paid tools or services that offer to track buzz around your brand, but there are three most basic tools that you should use no matter what.
The three tools below are free, easy to use, have rather basic functionality and deliver email alerts of your brand mentions. They take seconds to set up, so there is no excuse for not using them. I for one have been using the tools for ages, so here’s my insight into what you can expect:
Tracking Web Mentions: Google Alerts
Google Alerts is the most obvious choice when it comes to tracking web mentions of any word or phrase. Google has the largest on the web database of domains to crawl. Besides, it is the fastest to discover the new content that gets published on the web.
On the plus side:
- Fastest results and largest database;
- The ability to preview results before subscribing to the alerts;
- The ability to deliver results to email inbox or via RSS feed;
- Support of Google’s advanced operators
- Varied options.
Speaking of options:
- You can set filter results by media type (News, Blogs, Realtime, Video)
- You can set the updates to come daily, weekly or instantly;
- You can set to receive only “best” results or all results;
- Unlike what can be expected from a search giant like Google, the filtering and ranking algorithm of the tool often seems to be buggy: alerts tend to miss some important mentions, sometimes the will include a scraper instead of the original, etc.
For what it’s worth, despite some weirdness, Google Alerts is the best free tool to track web mentions of any phrase.
Tracking Social Media Mentions: SocialMention
SocialMention Alerts is another great free tool you should check out. Social mention claims to monitor 80+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc.- so it does provide great results.
On the plus side:
- Large database of social media sites;
- The variety of options.
Alert options include:
- Filter alerts by media source (blogs, micro-blogs, networks, bookmarks, comments, images, news, vide, audio, Q&A, all sources);
- Filter alerts by language.
- Little or no context for web mentions: this also makes the email difficult for scanning and clicking through;
- No way to filter or group identical mentions (like Twitter RTs) which clutter the alert.
Tracking Comments: Backtype
Backtype Alerts is the tool run by one of the most popular comment indexing tool – Backtype.com.
On the plus side,
- This is a great tool to get alerted of readers’ mentions of your site (to be able to always participate in the related discussions).
- It delivers a lot of context for your keyword in your email inbox.
You have only one option: to set the alert to come daily, instantly, weekly or “never” (the latter will allow you to track results using the dashboard only).
- Smallest database of all three;
- Limited search options and unknown search operators.
Putting it All Together
|Google Alerts||Social Mention Alerts||Backtype Alerts|
|What can be tracked||News, blogs, real-time, video, or everything||Blogs, micro-blogs, networks, bookmarks, comments, images, news, vide, audio, Q&A, or everything||Blog comments|
|Database||Huge||Huge (third-party databases)||Small|
|Drawbacks||Often ranks results in a weird way||Hard to scan the email alerts||Misses some major results|
|Best used for||Tracking newest web mentions||Tracking social media buzz||Participating in discussions related to your brand|
Expanding the Possibilities
- The tools deliver email alerts including the search snippets for your main keyword (which is the context around it) – which makes it possible to find and monitor the natural neighbors of your tracked keyword. One free tool to do that is Gmail. See my post on using Gmail search for that purposes.
- With Gmail labels (or email filters in some email clients like Outlook), email alerts containing your brand mentions can be turned into tasks, archived or organized in multiple ways. Refer to this post of mine on de-cluttering your email inbox for some idea how labels and filters can be used.
- Any other tips? Please share them in the comments!