Listening to your audience, customers and potential customers is critical in this world of Social Media Chatter.

The burning question for companies is: as an organization are you listening? If you have customers, most likely they’re talking about you to their friends, colleagues, and to anyone else who will listen and is in their social media sphere of influence.

Once you are ready to embrace the reality of public dialogue, it is time to find out what people may already be saying about you. There are many tools available to accomplish this, but unless you have a lot of time or are going to delegate this to someone who can concentrate on it, narrow your monitoring to a few key resources.

Although the online market is daunting for marketers, there are plenty of useful tools you can use to manage and monitor your online brand reputation. Take advantage of the following free, easy to use tools:

Google Alerts

Google Alerts and Yahoo! Alerts are free, can be set up in minutes and will send you a daily update via email letting you know of any materials they find using keywords related to your brand or other key issues.

Technorati

Technorati is a simple, well-established tool that helps you stay informed about what the ‘Buzz’ is in the Blog world.

Lexicon

Are people talking about you on Facebook? If yes, then the Lexicon tool can help as it searches Facebook profiles for keywords and provides a snapshot of the chatter volume around those terms.

Monitter

Everyone is talking about Twitter, but what are people talking about on Twitter? Beyond the integrated search of Twitter apps like Twhirl and TweetDeck, Monitter provides real-time monitoring of the Twittersphere.

Tweetburner

In the world of Twitter, URL shortening is the magic wand for effectively connecting with the public. Tweetburner also lets you track the clicks on those magically shortened links, giving you some hard numbers.

Download the free “Leveraging Social Chatter: Online Brand Reputation Monitoring and Managementwhitepaper from Gary Levine on our dedicated Whitepapers download section and learn how to Monitor and Manage Online Brand Reputation.