Google Alerts is a free tool that is easy to overlook. Think of it as a monitoring station, where you can track news, blogs, video, discussion and books on your keyword subject matter. You can set the frequency of the alert and have it delivered by email or RSS feed.
1. Monitor Your Brand
One of the first uses of Google Alerts I came across was to monitor for customer chatter on your own brand, goods or service. Find a conversation relevant to your company, product or service gives you the chance to jump in and engage with potential customers. In the worst case of someone damning your brand or service you can jump in and intervene.
2. Monitor Your Competitors
Google Alerts is an ideal way of keeping abreast of your competitors' latest product launches or news. It makes sense to know what your competition is doing.
3. Monitor For Customers
Keywords covering your product offering that your potential customers would be using can be monitored. Just select "discussions", "as it happens" and select the frequency of update.
If someone is looking for your product you have a chance to get in front of the customer. This is the core of inbound marketing, a social media strategy that drives lead generation.
4. Monitor Industry News
Google Alerts can be used to aggregate the best of the news in your industry sector. You have the option of hand picking bits of news or feeding the highlights to your Facebook page or Twitter. This can be done using the RSS feed selection. The trick here would be to interweave this newsfeed with more personalised posts. Blog aggregation can also be done with Google Alerts rather than Google Reader. Again this is a handy way of compiling all relevant information for a blog of your own or an industry related company newsletter.