You should hear what she says about you on Twitter.
Ever wondered what people are saying about you online?
In fact, up until now I've been faithful to the first and only commandment of the Internet: "thou shalt never Google thy own name!"
But perhaps I've just been fooling myself by doing the online equivalent of sticking my head in the sand or putting my hands over my ears and yelling, "I don't hear you!"
Online monitoring is becoming a big business, as is the idea that you should have some knowledge about, and control over, your online presence.
Best of all, it's simple to set up, feels vaguely like you're stalking yourself, and - get ready to perk up, ears - absolutely free! And if you have a website or blog or you're on Twitter or Facebook, having an online monitoring system is a peachy keen way to have an answer the next time someone asks, "Whazzup witchu?"
This instant, real-time data is what's revolutionizing the advertising business and the business business. The key is data, demographics, geographics, and psychographics.
Once you know who, specifically, is talking about you, and how many times they do it, your online presence gains value, and can be sold to advertisers through Google AdSense, Yahoo Right Media, or the old-fashioned way: on street corners at night.
So, here's how to keep an eye on everything you want: like God in Elvis Costello's song, "God's Comic," lying on a waterbed, watching 9 1/2 Weeks, and listening to Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Requiem" (1:30 in this video):
1. Sign up for Google Alerts
Enter a keyword search for whatever you like and check back for real-time results. I entered my own name (put quotation marks around yours for best results), my blog's name (same deal), "Red River College," and "pasty, white Norwegian." Kidding, but maybe I should, just to be sure.
2. Set up a home base
PR instructor Melanie Lee Lockhart is the Queen of Tweetdeck, which allows you to be the Mr. Sulu of your workplace - manning the helm of social networkland as you gamely ignore Captain Kirk yelling at you.
I just downloaded the Tweetdeck iPhone app, and it works like a charm, just like it claims:
"TweetDeck is your mobile browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now on Twitter and Facebook from your iPhone or iPod Touch. TweetDeck shows you everything you want to see at once, so you can stay organised and up to date no matter where you are."I feel more organized already.
This is one of the best dashboards I've seen. If there's a keyword search you find yourself constantly typing in, just put it into Addict-o-matic, bookmark it, and check back frequently to see who's talking about it (or you) on Twitter, Bing, Google, YouTube and everywhere.
Just like Tweetdeck, this one is a "professional Twitter client," allowing you to manage multiple Twitter streams and accounts at once, set up "team workflows" for group projects, and track stats. Plus it has a nice-lookin' layout. Watch the video:
3. Start measuring your audience
Follow your competitors on Twitter and measure your own Twitter usage and success. This one crashes a lot for me, but it's free, so what the hell else would you expect, greedy? When it doesn't crash, I must say, it's pretty cool.
Twitalyzer gives you key Twitter metrics in the areas of impact, engagement, influence, generosity, clout, and velocity. Turns out that I'm extremely engaged and not at all generous. Tell me something I don't know, Twitalyzer!
b) Google Analytics
The big name in web traffic and demographics. Hide the code on your blog or website, and secretly track who visits your site. Like I'm doing right now, naked person!
c) StatCounter and Site Meter
Same as Google Analytics, more or less, but each of these measurement services has pros and cons. I check StatCounter once a week and Site Meter stats get emailed to me every Wednesday morning.
My hits have been getting better this past year: I've gone from about 1,000 to 5,000 unique views a month. Average "stay and read" time is a bit down from 2:45 to 2:33. So now I'm writing very long articles to force people to stay here longer. Like this one! Why not get a coffee, come back and read more, short attention-span person?
4. Don't forget about other bloggers
I recently discovered BlogPulse from the good folks at Nielsen.
The site tells you about all of the hot topics being discussed by bloggers, the traditional media that they are sourcing, the most popular viral videos, key phrases in blog posts, and even blog comments on its Conversation Tracker tool.
5. Secure your name, brand, and username
Where there's a hit, there's a writ! No, I'm not advocating that you sue anyone, lest you - or worse: I - be sued by someone else.
However, if you're interested in checking how your name, brand, or username is being used online and want to secure it across the web, check out KnowEm.
Thank God, I can still open a Plinky account under my own name! Wah, wah, wah...