But, part of the big problem - especially for PR people - is that it is not possible to track the conversations. And, let's be honest - that is a big part of what blogging is really about: the comments and trackbacks that add to the conversation. The best way to do this so far - and what I have had to do with certain posts that I think can be detrimental to clients, or lead to something more - is to go back again and again.
From Robert Scoble comes news of coComment. After I read the post - damn, it only had 12 comments at the time - I signed up for the beta, and actually got one. It's pretty cool, and an interesting service. You download the bookmarklet and then add it to your Firefox toolbar, and prior to commenting, you click on coComment and ... voila, your comment becomes tracked, as does any other comments on that post, and you have one page to view your comments and other comments. It's an all-in-one stop to view comments and conversations on blogs, without the original post. Stowe Boyd has already taken the time to break down the system step-by-step.
Now, this is not the first service I have seen for tracking comments - actually, Blogger has a tool that plugs into Firefox. To quote: Blogger Web Comments for Firefox is an extension that makes it easy to see what bloggers are saying about a page you're viewing in Firefox and
even make your own blog post about it, all without leaving the page you're on.
I have that one also installed, and I ran into two problems: first, it was overwhelming and too much. Second, it's not centralized. While it was a great way to track comments to my blog and on other blogs - and posts on the same issue - it was too much a pain. I think coComment is a better application for PR people ... but you have to comment on the post to be able to start tracking. Often - well, almost always - there is no reason for me to be commenting on a post on a client, nor should a PR person entertaining such a thought (unless it's to correct erroneous information). In that instance, the Blogger Web Comments might be a better tool - but it's not centralized on one page, like coComment.
So, a mashup of the two might work best for PR folks, and help track the second part of the blogging conversation - the comments.
An interesting sidenote ... as most people know, I strongly dislike (read hate) moderated comments and only use them when I have no control/choice on the platform. Well, I posted a comment using coComment on another blog ... and while it does not show up on the blog, it does show up on coComment. Here's an interesting twist: a blogger can moderate all he/she wants, but on coComment it shows up immediately; it's going to start showing out some people quite quickly who try to control the conversation flow for their own purposes.
This, in itself, is going to be dangerous and become ugly for PR: the outing of comment moderators, which includes clients' blog. If clients have a blog and do not let through comments ... well, that is now a wasted effort and perhaps more detrimental than letting through a comment and answering it. Likely, most corporations are going to opt to just turn off all comments, thinking that is the best way to control and not track elsewhere.