Marketers have been advised to track online conversations in order to protect their brand image and gain crucial consumer data.

Alex Lustberg, vice-president of professional services at customer intelligence Overtone, said effective listening and insights analysis not only allows companies to track the volume, but also the meaning of online conversations across a series of consumer interaction channels.

Writing in Marketing Profs, he explained that one of the most common techniques of understanding customer conversations is to track the presence of keywords in brand conversations on social networks, forums and communities.

“Many companies have implemented keyword systems as a first step to help sift through large volumes of consumer-generated content on the social web,” Mr Lustberg commented.

The next step after using a keyword system is to hire people to manually read, categorise, summarise and report on the keyword search results.

Mr Lustberg suggested that marketers can opt for even more accurate ways to track consume brand conversations by using natural language processing – a scientific approach that enables software to discover and match author intent to an almost limitless set of words and phrases.