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Managing your brand online is a very different prospect from what you had to do in the real world. Prior to the 'Net knowing who was referring to you either positively or negatively in the media was relatively easy because there were, by today's standards, so few channels to monitor.
Today that's not the case at all. What with all of the traditional media going online, blogs, forums, and social media automation is the way to go and, as a consequence, there are all sorts of tools available and, if that's not enough, you can outsource to an online service to monitor your image for you.
One of the best ways to start monitoring your brand is to use Google Alerts. Alerts allows you to specify up to 1,000 searches using the usual Google search format and you can restrict the domains to be searched to 'News', 'Web', 'Blogs', 'Comprehensive', 'Video' or 'Groups'. Your results will be e-mailed to you either when matches are detected or once per day in either HTML or plain text format. You can also access a news feed of your results.
One area of brand monitoring that has been problematic is whether your corporate logos, images, and photographs have been used and or misused. The reason this has been tricky is that finding similar images is a tricky technical problem as images might be scaled, have aspect ratios altered, be re-colored, have colors removed, or been altered in a dozen other ways.
If you want to keep an eye on how your images are being used online you might want to check out TinEye.
TinEye, which is free to use through its Web interface, crawls the Web, indexing and analyzing images with its proprietary algorithms; the company claims to have indexed some 1,444,624,337 images to date. When you supply the service with either an uploaded image or a URL to an image online TinEye searches its index and in what is usually an incredibly short time, returns results.
I tried searching for images of "Bob Dobbs" using the grayscale Wikipedia image URL of "Bob Dobbs" and in 1.174 seconds I was presented with a list of 104 results. The results included not only size variations on the original but also ones that had been colorized and had other graphic elements added.
TinEye also offers an API for clients to integrate their own applications with the TinEye service (pricing starts at 1,000 searches for $70 and rises to 30,000 searches for $1,500).
Content owners can submit their own image collections to TinEye to ensure that they get indexed and there are plugins for Firefox, Chrome, and IE.
If you're watching your brand online, this is one of the coolest additions to your toolkit.
Read more about software in Network World's Software section.