You're a marketer who's hip to the idea of social media: You have a blog for your company or client, you know Facebook inside and out, and you can Tweet with the best of them. So you've got the communicating part down pat.
But the big question is, Are you listening? If you have customers, chances are they're talking about you to their friends, to their coworkers, and to anyone else who will listen.
Here are some of the top tools for listening to and monitoring the online chatter about your brand:
Google Alerts is the steady rock in the sometimes white-water world of monitoring. You can easily target keywords that are important to your brand and receive streaming or batched reports—choose your own adventure.
Billing itself as "the leading blog search engine," Technorati has been helping bloggers and those with their fingers on the blog pulse stay informed for years.
Clay McDaniel is principal and cofounder of social-media marketing agency Spring Creek Group (www.springcreekgroup.com).