Find the discussions surrounding your brand
There are a lot of online forums out there, including countless product and service review sites, where relevant consumer conversations regarding your brand are taking place. It simply isn't feasible to monitor and participate in every one. So how do you decide where to focus?
Much of this comes down to being familiar with the types of sites out there and your brand's relation to them. For example, retail companies are likely to find monitoring social networks and community forums particularly useful because consumers regularly discuss their purchases and experiences on such sites. And of course, peer reviews dramatically impact purchase behavior. These forums, as well as price comparison websites, are the ideal place for marketers to engage directly with consumers who care the most, says Andreas Roell, who heads up digital marketing agency Geary Interactive. Consumers in these forums routinely take the time to write comments, so if a marketer can cultivate a relationship with these individuals, they have an opportunity to create a loyal, influential customer base.
Message boards are also good resources for marketers, though they can be hard to monitor due to the sheer number of them. Thus, marketers need to find ways to simplify their searches. BoardTracker.com is one of the biggest players in this field, currently tracking more than 37,000 forums. Similarly, Copernic Inc. offers software that searches for new content on web pages (including product review sites) as often as you like. When a change is detected, the tracking software notifies you by sending an email, including a copy of the page with the changes highlighted.
While automated solutions can be useful, marketers should invest time in familiarizing themselves with the communities that have the greatest relevance for their brands. In this regard, Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at emerging technology advisory firm Enderle Group, says that marketers need to be on the lookout for sites that cover areas in which their companies operate. These are the best places to find insight into how others perceive your company, your industry, and your customers, as well as the trends and news that surround all three. "These will give you a sense for how your brands perform against others in the same space, and whether folks are thinking more positively or negatively over time about them," Enderle says.