Admit it. You've engaged in ego surfing, haven't you? You know you've looked up your personal or company name in a search engine to see what others are saying about you and your business. It's actually an important marketing practice. However, if you're only scanning the search engines, you're not as clued in to the consumer community as you could be. It's the bloggers you need to monitor.
The search engines show you all kinds of web documents that mention you and your business, such as directories, website pages and articles. Many of these mentions may be the result of your carefully constructed marketing efforts. These are great to see, but not too revealing.
Keep a pulse on a highly active online community with blog engines such as Technorati, BlogPulse and IceRocket. Search engines such as Ask.com and Google easily allow you to restrict your search to the blogosphere, too (add quotes around any name you look up for more relevant results).
These tools enable you to monitor the blogosphere to see what friends, fans and foes are saying about your business. Step on in and post a comment. State who you are, include your business name, and respond professionally to both praise and complaints. Bloggers can be your powerful PR allies. You can complement their efforts by joining their open conversation.