You should be monitoring your online audience / by Mike Takahashi

Traditional methods of gaining feedback about your brand or website online have typically relied on blogs, surveys or polls. With the emergence of social media sites and tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Google Alerts, you now have the ability to monitor and listen to your audience in an indirect way.

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal entitled "Marketers Find Web Chat Can Be Inspiring" describes how Harrah's Entertainment started monitoring Twitter and Facebook to find out what consumers were saying about their casinos, hotels and spas.

They found that many consumers were interested in hotel amenities such as room size and details of menu offerings and services. It quickly made adjustments to their marketing messages in online ads by adding the square footage of its suites. These subtle changes boosted Harrah's online bookings by a double-digit percentage.

Setting up monitoring tools are free and easy. Using them will allow you to engage and understand your audience more effectively while staying relevant with them.

Here are a few:

Google Alerts

http://alerts.google.com

Screenshot of Google Alerts

Google Alerts allows you select specific search terms and notifies you via email or an RSS feed anytime that phrase is found by Google. It gives you the ability to search within blogs, news, groups, video and the web.

Twitter

http://search.twitter.com

Screenshot of Twitter Search

Twitter’s search function allows you to monitor what people are saying in real-time and save the results as an RSS feed. Additionally, within the advanced options, you can limit searches to particular locations, dates, and even if users are asking a question.