Imagine being in a crowd of millions and someone, somewhere, is whispering your name, talking about you or your business.
In the real world, this potential friend, or potential business lead, would be lost to you because there would be no way for you to find this person. Worse, you probably wouldn't even know about it. For an individual, it might meen that someone simply commented on their picture in Facebook. For a company, it might meen that a customer is praising, or trashing your campany name online for all to see.
The classic example is the case of the guy who realised he could open his supposedly inbreakable Kryptonyte bicycle lock with a simple bic pen. He filmed it and posted it on Youtube. It went viral with thousands upon thousands of people viewing it (Steve Rubel has an excellent post on his blog, Micro Persuasion, that outlines this story in greater detail). When the company heard about this video, they immediately...did nothing. It cost them dearly. Not only that but the video has inspired dozens more who are trying everything they can to see if they can break the lock - and are of course filming it and posting it to Youtube. I have seen multiple ways of opening this lock, from using a car jack, to sawing through it with a carbide rod.
I first saw this video in a presentation Mitch Joel gave at a big conference I attended for Government of Canada communicators. It was a real eye opener and spurred me on to learn more about monitoring your brand, in my case, my personal brand, online. Now, the purpose of this post is not to discuss the value of monitoring your name/brand online. Better men, and women, than me have discussed this topic at lenght. But knowing about the concept and seeing it in action are two different things. Sure, I have a Google alert account that sends me emails when something is posted somewhere about me, mostly by me :( , and from time to time I visit Technorati to confirm just how invisible my blogs are, but there is a hop and a leap from that to serious brand monitoring.
A little while ago, Mitch Joel posted a link on twitter asking for suggestions about online monitoring tools. On his blog, Six Pixels of Seperation, he listed the major free tools and asked if anyone knew of other ones. It just so happened that, that very week, I had read about a company called Radian6 that did just that, so I replied to Mitch via twitter. It was only a matter of hours before I had a tweet from the VP Marketing of Radian6 thanking me for my recommendation and offering to demo their product in more detail.
Wow! I must admit I was impressed. You have to understand that in terms of the Web, I am not well known. I am that whisper in the crowd and most would not strain the ear to hear what I have to say. But those who take their business seriously, the real pros, don't miss a beat. They know that every whisper is a potential client, or a potential lead to other clients, and in the business world of today, this can make all the difference in the world.
Knowing who is talking about you and what they are saying is not just a good-to-have, it is a must-have for anyone doing business and a should-have for everyone else.
Note: I am not affiliated in any way with Radian6, Google, Mitch Joel, or Steve Rubel, other than by the fact that I follow their (Mike's and Steve's) blogs regularly for those pearls of wisdom that help make me a better blogger and a better communicator. I have not been offered and do not expect to profit financially in any way from this posting.