One of the most overlooked ways to monitor a business’s online reputation is in forums and groups. Before social media entered the scene, forums and groups were the dominant places where people with similar interests gathered to share information. And although social media may have overshadowed them, forums and groups are still alive and kicking.
Infact some forum and group users prefer them compared to sites like Facebook because they attract people who are more serious about the topic and they require registration and adherence to rules thereby creating a closed tight-knit community. Forums and groups are popular among certain professional topics, hobbies and town/city locations so they are worth monitoring as a local business especially if you provide services or products to their members.
For example, if you are local golf shop it is certainly worth your time knowing what the local golf club forum finds interesting and what they may be saying about your business.
How to monitor groups and forums
1. Join Forums and groups that relate to your business and maintain an active participation in them. In this way you can get first hand information about any positive or negative opinions voiced in the forum or group about your business and you will be able to respond when the need arises as an established member of good standing who will more likely get a fair hearing than if you were a recent newcomer who has never contributed otherwise. Another advantage to joining online forums and groups is that your business can sponsor these sites, and that gives you much more leverage to not only monitor but build a positive brand image and engage with forum and group members.
2. Another way to monitor your small business in forums and groups is to use search engines.
- You can search Google Groups to look for groups that mention your company keywords. Just go to http://groups.google.com and enter your company keywords.
- You can also use Google Groups search engine to search for forums using the search operator:
- Your keyword -inurl:groups.google.com
- This looks for all forums related to your keyword by removing all Google Groups from the search results
- Another search engine resource to find forums and groups is Blekko. This search engine uses simple slashes. For example:
- Your keyword/forum/date
This will find you all forums mentioning your keyword organized by the latest date.