How to Create a Free Dashboard to Monitor Your Green Business, Competitors and Industry

June 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Insights

Is your company looking for a free tool to monitor the latest happenings about your green business, your competitors, and environmental news? Are you struggling to keep yourself updated about what your customers and stakeholders are talking about your company brand?

This article will share why your company should monitor your business, competitors, and industry, and how you can use the free Google Reader tool to set up a free dashboard to keep track of news and blogs related to your business.

Business Success Begins with Monitoring

In our globalised market, customer needs, government regulations, industry trends, and competition can change in a short period of time. For your green business to succeed in this rapidly changing market, you would have to constantly monitor what is going on in your industry, and what your customers and stakeholders are saying about your brand or your competitors. With this information, you can plan ahead and adjust your business strategy and focus accordingly.

In the past, you probably have to conduct surveys and focus groups, or engage consultants to derive this customer and market intelligence. But if your company has limited financial resources, you can use basic free tools to help you to monitor what is being said about your green company and your competitors, and find out the latest environmental news in your industry.

Of course, the free tools do not allow you to monitor everything in depth as compared to professional paid tools or consultants, but the free tools are still able to give you a basic overview of what is happening.

Here are 4 steps to build a free monitoring dashboard using Google Reader:

1) Open a Google Reader Account

Google Reader is a free tool for you to gather and read all the websites and blogs that you are interested in, using RSS feeds. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and the RSS feed of a website automatically shows new content from the website as it becomes available.

All you need is to subscribe to a website’s feed in Google Reader, and you can read the website’s latest updates on Google Reader without going to the website. This allows you to easily read multiple posts and updates from different websites in one location.

Sign up for Google Reader using your Gmail account or open a new Gmail account if you don’t have one.

This is what Google Reader looks like:

2) Subscribe to Websites

Find the RSS feed of the websites and blogs that you are interested in and subscribe to the feed. Click on the RSS feed and choose to add to Google Reader. Or just copy the RSS feed url, click on the red Subscribe button in Google Reader, and paste the url in the box.

Once you are subscribed to a website’s feed, Google Reader will automatically show the latest posts from that website and show new posts as and when there are new posts from the website. You can subscribe to as many RSS feeds as you like. You can subscribe to RSS feeds of your competitors, or blogs and websites related to the green industry.

3) Subscribe to Search Terms

Use Google News to search for news keywords that you are interested in, e.g. “organic food”. Be as specific as possible and include quotes to search for the exact terms. Scroll down to the bottom of the search results and copy the RSS feed url (see below). Add the feed to Google Reader using the red Subscribe button, and you will be able to stay updated of news that has the word “organic food”.

Or you can use Google Alerts to monitor updates of the latest relevant Google results (news, blogs, videos, discussions, and books) via email or RSS. For example, search for “organic food” and set it to Deliver to Feed, click on Create Alert (see below) and a RSS feed will be created which you can add to Google Reader.

You can subscribe to search terms such as your company’s or competitor’s name, or any green terms related to your industry.

4) Create Folders to Organise the Feeds

In Google Reader, your RSS feeds are listed under Subscriptions. You can create folders to manage your feeds so that it is easier to refer and read what you are interested in. For example, you could create folders called:

  • “My Company” to monitor the feeds related to your company. You could have feeds for search terms such as your various product brands or company founder.
  • “My Competitors” to monitor the feeds of your competitors.
  • “Industry News” to monitor the feeds for the different green topics related to your industry. You could also have different folders if your business is in multiple industries.
  • “Business Ideas” or “Marketing Ideas” to monitor feeds of websites that provide business or marketing ideas that could be useful for you.

To create a folder, select the RSS feed and click on the small arrow (see below) beside the feed to open the box, and select “new folder” to name the folder accordingly. To add other feeds to the folder, click on the small arrow beside the RSS feed to open the box and select the folder name.

These 4 steps will enable you to create a free dashboard using Google Reader to monitor your green business, your competitors, and environmental news. Stay updated on the latest green trends and what people are talking about your business and your competitors. Using this monitoring dashboard will help your business to stay ahead of the competition and explore new opportunities in the green industry.

What are your thoughts? Are you using Google Reader or other dashboard for monitoring? What’s your experience? Please leave your comments in the box below.

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