I wonder why you are led to look at coming online? Just like me, you were probably invited by someone else. Perhaps that person is one of your target audience. If so, you need to be online too.
But hold on a minute. Rather than follow blindly onto a particular platform like twitter or Linkedin, take some time to find out where your target audience really is. This way you won’t waste your time in the wrong place. And whilst you’re at it, you can find some interesting things out about them too.
How do you find out if your audience is online? You can look for them. Fortunately the internet has a myriad of ways to find people.
Start with Google
If you’re not already using Google Web Search to research your target audience you’re missing a trick. Try typing in the name of one of your clients (or their company name) and see what you get. Results might include for organisations:
- A link or two to their website (obviously)
- Descriptions of the organisation on other websites
- Case studies about their work
- Business Reports for companies (use Companies House for the gold standard)
- Information about aspects of the company (including other websites) that you weren’t aware of, perhaps services they provide or clients they have
- Details of other companies they are working with
- Information about their company profiles and staff on networking sites on Linkedin.
- Their twitter profile
- Press Releases by them or mentioning them
And for individuals, news items mentioning the person, comments they have made on blogs and community sites, and their profiles on Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, for example.
You will notice when you start typing the name into google, that google will list popular search terms using the name (as in the image at the top of this post). This in itself can prompt new lines of research.
Choose blog search from the dropdown ‘more’ menu at the top and search for the same terms using Google Blog Search. This will tell you who is writing about the company or person, and whether they have a blog or not.
News about a company or person is also searchable on Google, and google news is also a great way to find breaking news from all over the internet about a particular subject (including your own pr, for example).
How to keep on top of all this information?
Research works best when you have a particular question you want to answer. However, you may not be able to answer it straight away, you may need to wait for the information to arise, for example, when you are looking for mentions of a company in the news.
If you had to keep checking manually on all your search terms then you’d soon run out of time, but fortunately this isn’t necessary, all you need to do is set them up and then google will bring them to you.
At the bottom of any google news search you’ll see a series of offers to set up email alerts, which will send you an email whenever the subject is discovered by Google.
However, if you really want to manage your monitoring of data on the internet, the answer is to use another feature – Really Simple Syndication or RSS. But that’s for another article.