There are a number of great, free programs out there that will assist you in keeping on top of what’s being said.

1. Topsy

http://topsy.com/

Topsy is a real-time search engine that searches the top social media sites. It’s a great, fast way to take a peek into your own buzz.

Its only major downside is that once you’ve done your search, you have to remember to keep coming back to see if anything new has been said. If you would rather stay more involved, read on.

2. Google Alerts

http://www.google.com/alerts

Google Alerts will email you any time Google indexes a new page that contains the keywords you enter. Of course, you should enter your company name, and any variations it is commonly referred to by, and get alerted about new blog posts, reviews, and mentions of your brand.

But there’s another powerful way in which you can leverage Google alerts: Ask to be notified about new mentions of keywords that relate to your industry, and you can start discovering where it is customers that are already interested in your services are hanging out online, and be the first on the scene to answer their questions, building brand awareness, your reputation as a knowledge leader, and valuable links back to your site all at the same time.

3. Tweetdeck

http://www.tweetdeck.com/

One of the most used social media management applications in the world, Tweetdeck allows you to view your twitter and facebook followers and track mentions of your brand all in real time. It also allows you to schedule posts for the future.

4. Hootsuite

http://hootsuite.com/

My personal favorite of the bunch, Hootsuite is very similar to Tweetdeck in that it allows you to track your twitter and facebook feeds — but it also lets you track LinkedIn, FourSquare, Pinged, WordPress comments and much more. Plus, it lets you watch all of these social networks for mentions of your brand or industry-related keywords, all in real time.

You can make posts to all of these accounts from a single interface, schedule automatic updates for the future, and track how much interest each of your posts generate to get a better sense of what really engages your customers.

The best part for me is that it’s a browser application. Nothing to install, and I can manage all of my accounts from any computer in the world. IF you have multiple employees who manage your social media accounts, you can add each of them as “team members” and manage how much access each team member has.

5. Facebook Insights

http://www.facebook.com/help/search/?q=insights

This sweet tool is built right in to Facebook fan pages, but many businesses don’t know it exists. Facebook insights provides fan page owners with a wealth of information about their follower demographics, what posts generate the most interest, and how often your brand gets talked about — among many other things.

Did these tools give you some food for thought? Do you think you’re going to take action to increase or improve the buzz about your business? Tell us about your plans and share your tips below!

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