Whether or not you are not actively participating in what is happening in the online environment which includes blogs, you should at the very least be aware of the conversations that are taking place and be listening to them. These conversations may be about your industry or the marketplace in which you operate, or more critically, they may directly impact your company or your brand.

Whichever it is, you need to have a clear and up to date view of what is being said which then gives you the opportunity to participate in that conversation should you wish to. You may wish to monitor conversations from a PR point of view and so be able to actively respond to issues raised, or it might simply be for a type of “online press cuttings” to evaluate the feeling towards your company and brand in real time.

There are a number of companies which have come to the market with offerings which allow you to monitor what is being said. Some, such as Market Sentinel offer a comprehensive range of services which are ideal for companies and/or brands getting hundreds or thousands of daily mentions. However, for those of us with more modest brands (and budgets) then there are some excellent tools on the internet which can help us in our monitoring and our research.

  • Technorati
    Technorati currently probably retains the general Bloggers vote for where to go for information on the blogosphere and with 38 million blogs monitored as of May, it can claim to have the most comprehensive list. You can sift information using Technoratis tags, your watchlists will deliver ongoing specific searches and you can keep your favourite blogs or bloggers tracked too.

  • PubSub
    PubSub is a predominantly a matching service which notifies you when new content is created that matches your requirements. It allows you to create an enquiry and then watches out for any new information that matches it it will then notify you when a match is made but updating your own personal feed. Really quick way of keeping up to date on an hour by hour basis.

  • BlogPulse
    BlogPulse is an automated system which allows you to identify and analyse trends across blogs. Effectively, it is a blog search engine which doesnt just give a snap shot at a moment in time but allows you to analyse and report on a particular topic over time. Special features include:
    Conversation Tracker: allows you to follow a discussion that starts with an individual blog post and then spreads across multiple blogs
    Blog Pulse Profiles: helps identify and analyse the activity and influence of some of the main profile blogs
    Trend Charts: to compare trends for 3 topics and see what is being written about.

  • Bloglines
    Bloglines is probably best known as the largest online RSS Reader and as such is an ideal place to start tracking what is happening in an industry. What is allows you to do is effectively create your own news page by searching out, subscribing to and sharing news feeds from blogs and other websites.

All of these, and the others which already exists, are of course just tools to allow you to keep an eye open as to what is being said in real time. How you react to the information you gather is the next stage but by tapping into blogs you can at least be aware of what is going on.

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