With an every increasing number of people going online to blog and engage in social networks there is an increasing number of on-line tools available to enable individuals and organisations to monitor discussion about their brand.
These tools amalgamate results from several sources including technorati and google blog search.
Companies and organisations need to monitor these networks to measure the success of their social media campaigns together with working to minimise the impact of negative conversations about their brand.
You cannot, and should not attempt to, control what is said about your brand in social media, however by being aware of these conversations you can utilise what is said to help drive improvements in your organisation and through reasonable responses aim to mitigate their impact.
The US elections are continuing to demonstrate how the internet is playing an increasingly important role in engaging with voters. Research in the US has shown that 7% of on-line searchers may change their votes. In a close election what political parties do on-line could make the difference between winning and losing.
Democrat Barrack Obama has been heralded as changing the future of political campaigning. Michael Cheney, from the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs, who studies online campaigning says that Barack Obama elevated the Internet’s social reach from novelty to necessity after Obama used it to build online grassroots support that helped fuel his rapid rise. Cheney believes that the use of social media has to be part of campaigns in the future and that candidates who don’t use this model aren’t going to be as succesful.
Google recognises this and has appointed a ‘head of elections and issues advocacy’ as sales of sponsored links go through the roof. For Google this is a huge opportunity to make money, for politicians looking for votes pay-per-click advertising is an easy way to reach potential voters.
It is no longer sufficient to build a website and upload press releases about how good you are and how terrible the opposition is. Messages have to cross multiple platforms in multiple formats. Supporters need to monitor and respond to discussions on-line. Candidates need to be taught not to be phased by the on-line chatter which could be disproportionally influenced by opponents who utilise the power of social networks such as Facebook and the many elections forums that grow in the run up to polling day.
Campaign strategist, plotting the progress of their campaign, need to use services such as Hitwise, to monitor traffic and searches for political websites which can give an indication of who is gaining ground in a campaign and the subject matters that the electorate are most interested in.
In the UK by the next general elections, and london local government elections in 2010, the internet will play a bigger part than ever before. And especially where the vote is close an election really could be won (or lost) on-line.
As part of my research into social networks I recently joined Bebo, a social network popular in the UK and in particular among younger people.
After being an avid Facebook user for some time I wasn’t overwhelmed by the service, however added my profile details and added a link to the page to my homepage at wellbelove.com.
Being a regular egosurfer I was surprised that despite the fact that my Facebook page has been available for much longer my Bebo page was appearing higher in the Google results for a search of Christopher Wellbelove. This has since switched, however it is telling of the importance Google places on Bebo that my Bebo page has appeared on the first page of Google results so quickly.
Whilst I realise it is difficult to maintain profiles on so many sites, the benefits are clear. If Google places a high importance on Bebo then having a profile here that points to your main website, together with your pages on other social networks, by creating a profile on Bebo you will increase their rank and ensure that for users who choose the Bebo network they are still able to access some information about should they search in that network for you.
My Squidoo page, set up at a similar time as my Bebo profile, today appeared above both my Facebook and Bebo profiles in my Google egosurf. You can discover more about services like Squidoo in my article ‘Bringing it all together’.
In short, if you want the widest audience to find you, you need to invest time in placing content where the audience is – on the networks they know and trust. If you want search engines to focus on content you own, you need to invest time in creating these pages, interlinking them so that search engines will trust your profile network as an authority on information about you.