I speak quite a bit on social media and marketing, with an emphasis on simple, practical steps that organizations can take to benefit from the social Web. Like many who speak and write on this topic, I emphasize “listening” first – tapping into the conversations already out there on the Web that might be relevant to you. And I always ask the audience:
How many of you have set up any Google Alerts on your organization’s name, your own name, or topics that are important to your business?
The number of hands has increased some over time, but it is still surprisingly low in most instances.
Why does it matter?
Because there is a good chance that people out there are already talking about you, your organization, and/or the types of things you do. Or perhaps worse, they may not be saying anything – which may point to a need to examine your marketing practices, or maybe even your whole business model.
Alerts can bring to light potential opportunities you didn’t know about – like a new project on which your firm can bid, or a member who is saying great things about you. And they can also help you head off potential disasters.
And besides, it’s just so easy to do! There are many other tools – some that cost money, some that are relatively complex – for listening in on the Web, but Google Alerts are free, and setting up a few key searches takes only minutes. Why not do it today?
For guidance, check out this brief eHow posting on How to Set Up Google Alerts. (Be sure to pay attention to the advice in Tips & Warnings on using Google “search limiters” like quotation marks.) Or check out one of the many videos on setting up Google alerts.
One final comment: If you do not already use an RSS Reader, this is a good time to start. You can receive Google Alerts by e-mail, but a reader – like, for example, the free Google Reader – can make it much easier to view your alerts in a “dashboard” fashion and also take advantage of other tools for monitoring your brand.
Hedgehog & Fox
P.S. – Looking for other great tips and resources? Follow me on Twitter.