I'll never forget my online correspondence with Comcast's Frank Eliason earlier this year. The small Twitter message I sent chronicling my woes in setting up my new Internet connection got an immediate response from him. As "Director of Digital Care" for Comcast, Eliason frequently goes above and beyond the call of duty by tracking and responding to nearly all mentions of his company on social networks and blogs (you can track his efforts here).
Most companies don't have a Frank though, and in a time when layoffs mean deep cuts in staffing, sometimes it's the customer service that gets the axe first. To help take some of the pressure off of trying to stay on top of your company's online reputation, there's a tool called Brandwatch that does the work for you.
The idea is simple. Like Google Alerts, you simply give it the name of your company and it starts tracking when and where it's showing up. This includes online newspapers, blogs, forums, and even social networks. You can monitor these mentions one at a time in list form, or see them combined together in a central location, which includes an analytics engine to weed through what's important.
In addition to your own company, you can use the tool to track competitors. For fledgling companies, this could be an easy way to figure out how your competitor is failing in some areas and where it's getting noticed for others.
To cut through this massive influx of data, there's a tool that figures out how much influence each source has. Smart users can take advantage of this to figure out which places are worth targeting for the appropriate follow up. This includes individual writers at multi-author blogs, and how far positive or negative their mention of your company went.
All this work doesn't come cheap. The beginning subscriptions start at $477 per user, per year, although anyone can get a free, weekly analysis of any company name sent to their e-mail in-box by signing up on this page. If you want to know more, you should watch the demo video I've embedded below.
Brandwatch introduction from IanProCastsCoUk on Vimeo.