Just because you don’t use social media for your business doesn’t mean that you’re not being found on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram.

Your business might have an online presence of which you’re not even aware – and for the sake of your brand it’s important that you keep tabs on what’s being said, and where.

Take my local Asian restaurant as an example. The only online presence managed by this business is their website – which has only just recently been updated after 4 years of having outdated information on the home page. But a quick search on Facebook reveals a community managed Page that has over 200 likes, and which has received almost 6000 check-ins. The information has been added by Facebook users, rather than the business itself – risking misinformation and an incorrect portrayal of their brand.

Not only that, but there are 66 reviews. While many of them are positive and their overall rating is high, scattered among the 4-5 stars are rants blaming the restaurant for very bad service, food poisoning and other negative experiences.  All unanswered by the owners themselves.

It’s a similar scenario on Google+.  Information drawn from Google and from the public. Several reviews – not all of them positive, but all of them left unanswered.

On Instagram there are almost 50 posts using the business name as a hashtag – and on Twitter a quick search turns up several tweets as well as links to reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp and many other review sites.

This restaurant is always busy, and could argue that they don’t have to worry about social media to bring customers through their doors, but unless they monitor these activities they are essentially leaving their brand and reputation management up to strangers.

So if, like this business, you’re not actively using social media, I strongly recommend monitoring mentions of your business and products across the popular platforms. And even if you are “socially active”, it’s still worth performing these searches for mentions and activity that might not be via your official channels.

Regularly search for mentions of your business across the web

Here are some quick searches you can do to monitor mentions of, and sentiment around, your business.

1.  Google Yourself!

Google your business name, your own name, your product names – any search terms that people might use to find your business.  Have a look through the first couple of pages of results and see what you find. Does it all reflect and support your brand positioning and the message/personality you’re trying to portray to customers and potential customers?

I’d recommend using an Incognito or Private Window to do the search – the results Google returns are less likely to be impacted by your previous search activity, and will give you a better picture of what the world sees when they perform those searches.  To do this go to File and choose New Incognito Window (if you are using Chrome), New Private Window (in Safari and Firefox) – or whichever equivalent is offered by the browser you are using.

2. Search on Facebook

Search your business name on Facebook and have a look through the results. Are there pages about your business that you need to gain control of or manage? Are there other businesses with similar names that you need to be aware of in case your customers become confused? Are there unanswered reviews? Identify anything that might impact your brand and determine the best course of action to gain control protect your business.

3. Search on Google+

When you did your Google Search, if your business has a Google Places page, it would probably have offered a link to go through to Google+. Click through and see how you’re represented. Also check your reviews and respond where appropriate.

4. Search on Twitter

Type in your business name or relevant keywords in the search field at the top of Twitter to see what appears. People might be tweeting about your company or brand without using your official username or hashtag – and you might not be aware of what they are saying.

5. Search on Instagram

Search your business name on Instagram and check it under People and Hashtags. Again, if people are talking about you, it may show up under these searches. Not only do you have the opportunity to respond to negative or incorrect information, but you can also show appreciation to those who are helping to spread the word in a positive way.

6. Use tools for ongoing monitoring

There are a range of tools available that let you perform manual searches and set up ongoing monitoring that sends you alerts when there are mentions of your chosen keywords.  These include:

  • Mention – Mention lets you monitor a keyword across social media and the web.  When mentions of the keyword are made, you can receive notifications in real time, or an email summary of mentions daily or weekly. While there is a basic free account, there is greater functionality in the paid accounts, starting from US$6.99 / month.
  • Talkwalker – A simple monitoring tool, Talkwalker lets you monitor your name, brand, competitors and relevant topics.  You receive an email summary of all mentions of the keywords you choose across the web.
  • Social Mention – Social Mention looks through content on social media, blogs and blog comments, news sites and other media outlets (over 100 in fact).  You can perform manual searches or set up keyword alerts.

So whether or not you are active on social media, I would strongly recommend performing these searches and setting up some alerts to monitor your brand’s online presence.

Action:  Choose one of the tools above and set up alerts for keywords including your business name, your name, any brands or products you manage.

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