“Google Alerts” is a content monitoring system that notifies users when new content from news, web, blogs, video and/or discussion groups matches a set of search terms selected.  It’s a great, straightforward way to gather content for social media channels for several reasons:

  1. It’s free! It doesn’t cost anything to sign up. All you have to do is visit http://google.com/alerts and enter your email address. You can set certain preferences such as type of content you’d like delivered (news, blogs, videos, etc.), frequency and volume.
  2. It does the work for you. You don’t have to spend time doing web searches for relevant content. Google does it for you and delivers it directly to your inbox at the frequency to which you set it. You can set as many alerts as you’d like and it’ll be provided to you in an organized fashion.
  3. It’s straightforward. Say you have a daily subscription. Each day, at the same time, you’ll receive an email with “Google Alerts” in the subjectline. The email itself will list headlines along with a brief introduction to each article. At the bottom of each email are options to remove that particular alert, create a new one, or manage alert preferences, so it’s extremely easy to manage your alerts.
  4. It has broad search capacity. You can search for literally anything, and as much as you want. So Starbucks, as a basic example, could set up an alert for “Starbucks” to be able to keep track of whenever a news article, blog, etc., mentions their name. This is a great way to keep track of what is being said about your brand. They also could set up more broad searches for relatable subjectmatter (ie. “coffee,” “tea,” etc.)
  5. It makes it easy to track your competition. Being aware of your competition and what they’re up to is a great learning tool. Not only can you learn from their mistakes, but you can also learn from their successes. If nothing else, it’s also vital to just be aware of what’s going on, and this is a pretty effortless way to do that. So Starbucks might want to set up alerts for “Coffee Bean,” “Peet’s Coffee,” etc.

Basically, once you’re privy to your business or industry’s news that Google Alerts provide right to you, it’s easy to set up a few tweets or facebook posts with that content. You then become the social-media based hub for that specific type of information to those that follow you, and you really didn’t have to do much besides organize and re-disseminate the material.