Do You Know Who’s Talking About You Online?

One of the basic tools in your social media tool box should be an easy-to-use online monitoring system. In order to protect your reputation and get the data you need to add develop valuable content, you need to listen to the chatter that goes on around your brand. Listening systems can be simple or elaborate, free or expensive. Today, let’s take a look at the starter kit.

When you set up your monitoring system (more on that later), who and what should you be listening to?

  • Advocates/detractors: Advocates are an important marketing force. Growing their numbers will not only spread the good word about your brand, but their allegiance can build a force to help you resolve a negative online event. Detractors will always be with you. Learn their hot button issues and work to bring them out of the dark side.
  • Internal staff and personal brands in your organization: This can include employees, leadership, student-athletes, faculty, or anyone that may speak on behalf of your organization. This is your core group of fans—the people with the most potential to sing your praises online.
  • Competitors and media: Why are they in the same category? Because they may both talk about you at some point, and you want to know what they are saying.

Start With the Basics. I’m going to use a combination of Hootsuite and Google Alerts to make up our elementary online monitoring system. Another good free tool I recommend is Mention. It has more reach across the web than Hootsuite, but the free version only allows you 500 mentions per month. It has a free 30-day trial so you can use it for a month and decide if you like it. The first level costs twenty dollars per month and gives you 50,000 monthly mentions and lots of good data reports.

Instead of going into detail about Google Alerts here, I will give you a few links that can guide you through the process of setting up a Google Alert system to get real-time web alerts on topics, names, or news items you want to follow delivered to your inbox. There are a number of filters available for each alert including how often to receive, which platforms to search, and others. I use them to follow breaking news stories important to me. These links can get you started in Google Alerts: How to use Google Alerts to Monitor Your Online Presence from Hubspot,  Ninja’s Guide to Google Alerts from Search Engine Journal,  and Getting Started Guide from Google.

Hootsuite Monitoring 101. Hootsuite is set up around your Twitter account but can accommodate several other platforms including Facebook and Google Plus. If you’ve never used Hootsuite before, set up an account and run through the basic tutorial to get started.

I recommend using Twitter lists for monitoring. You can set them up easily from your Twitter account. That way, you can group people you want to follow onto a “stream” that is easily followed at a glance on your dashboard. Hootsuite also lets you set up streams around a keyword or a hashtag.

If you’re not familiar with how to set up lists on Twitter, here is a short tutorial. The biggest advantage of listing people is that you do not have to follow them to list them. There is an option on the pull down menu of a Twitter profile to list without following.


When you click the option to list, you will see a pop-up that gives several options from your own account. Here is where you put together your lists.



Once your lists are complete, you can turn each list into a “stream” on your Hootsuite dashboard.



Hootsuite also allows you to create streams around keywords, hashtags, or people you want to follow (advocates and detractors).

With a combination of Hootsuite and Google Alerts, you can keep track of who is talking about you online and what they are saying. And the best part? Both tools are free. Make listening a part of your everyday routine and you’ll be able to take a big step in protecting your reputation and have the data you need to start building social media content that develops loyal fans.

What does your monitoring system look like? Please share in the comments.

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