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Searching for Myself

March 25, 2010

A few years back when a lot of my communications role consisted of serving as a media spokesperson, I Googled myself quite a bit. I even created a del.icio.us bookmarking account for links where I was mentioned. I tagged all the links and fancied myself quite organized and on top of what was being said about me online.

It had been a while since I’d done this – since before the indexing of Facebook and Twitter, actually – so a couple of hours ago I decided to do some searching. I started with Google, of course, but then decided I wanted to try out some of the sentiment analysis tools to find out what else they could tell me about … me.

All of this probably sounds entirely narcissistic, but a little self-stalking online is only natural when this sort of thing is one of the first items on my to-do list when I meet someone new or begin researching a potential client. It is also the sort of listening and observation any organization can and should be doing about itself and its competitors.

Here’s a bit of what I learned.

Google’s Gone Social (and so have I)
To begin with, the top search result for “Angie Moncada” is now my Twitter account (“Angie Henderson Moncada” results in my LinkedIn at the top). A few spots down is my Facebook page, and most of the rest of the results are content related to WordCamp Miami, where I spoke a month or so back. Dig back a few pages and you begin to see what my search results used to look like, mostly quotes from news articles and things I’d bylined, including this old favorite from projo.com right after Hurricane Katrina.

There’s More to Search Than Google (and I don’t mean Bing)
I tried out several free sentiment analysis tools tonight and I was most impressed with the results of SocialMention. I found a nice YouTube tutorial that does a good job explaining how it works if you’re interested in checking it out. I like how it provides analysis beyond results. What was nice about SocialMention was that even as a free tool, it offers the ability to segment the sentiment by social platform, export some great data to CSV and to sign up for alerts.

Results May Vary
I think most of these free sentiment analysis tools have a long way to go in terms of how they use keywords to measure sentiment. For kicks I searched “Ben & Jerry’s” after yesterday’s free ice cream day and got wide ranging numbers for positive vs. neutral vs. negative from different tools. I also find it interesting how different search engines prioritize results.  A profile I create on Fast Company more than a year ago and only used twice to post comments for an experiment I was doing with a former colleague showed up as my number-two result on Google, but it doesn’t show up at all anywhere else.

You Never Know What You’ll Find
Tonight’s exercise reminded me of the last days of my dating life, which ended right about when Classmates.com was the big social platform and Friendster was about to get off the ground. At that point, we could Google someone, and if they were in the news, we’d learn a bit about them. If my husband and I were to meet now, I’d be able to find out everything I wanted to know about him and more through his social media presence, including his recently launched website (we are not calling it a blog) on WordPress.

So, as we create our own news by sharing with our social networks we are able to shape how we appear online to someone who might be searching for us before or after a first date. The same is true for businesses, which is why organic search has been and continues to be one of the more compelling and measurable arguments for social media engagement.

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