Whether you realize it or not, people are talking about you on the Web. They're critiquing your business, your level of customer service, and the tackiness of your commercials. Or perhaps they're spreading inaccurate, over-generalized sound bytes that work against the mission and goals of your organization.
Whether they're cutting you slack or talking a lot of smack, you can't afford not to know about it. Just one problem: Not every person or business can afford to pay a third-party monitoring service to keep them in the know.
Never fear: There's a lot of free stuff out there on the world wide web, and listening tools are no exception. However, some free options seem to have died off: BackType (bought up by Twitter and turned into BackTweets, which is now no longer available), Comment Sniper (just redirects to a random "online marketing" website), and Jodange (used to be recommended as a tool for monitoring brand sentiment, but now the web address goes nowhere).
Indeed, only the strong survive. And they're worth a try:
You've seen it, heard about it, thought about it...seriously, just give it a shot already. SocialMention is a search engine for social media and beyond. Enter a term and you get tweets, comments, news articles, videos — anything that fits your search query — from no fewer than 80 different sources across the Web. You can also set up free alerts so new finds come straight to your email in-box. Insights abound.
Another social media crawler with strong ties to Twitter, Friendfeed, and Google Reader. A good tool worth a look, but only worth yourextended time if your audiences are concentrated on these social tools.
Now this tool is pretty cool. Enter a search term, and Addict-o-Matic serves up a "front page" of sorts with results from a host of different sources, all neatly presented in their own boxes. You get tweets, blog posts, photos, videos — all in one place, for any search term you wish. It really can get addicting.
If you're thinking, "Oh come on, Google Alerts is old news"...just stop it. Using this tool should pretty much be a no-brainer by now. Enter a term, and Google crawls its search engine every day. Then, it sends you an email with a full list of all the results. Great for keeping up on news and blog entries around any given topic.
What free listening tools do you use?