When and How to Do Reputation Monitoring

Is reputation monitoring important in my case? The question really isn’t “Is it important?”, but: “How important?”. Let’s look at some stats:

    • 90% of business purchases start online – Forrester (and that was 2007!)
    • 83% of businesses use the Internet to research and find potential vendors – Enquire: Business to Business Survey

  • 84% of consumers surveyed said that browsing reviews influenced their decision on whether or not to purchase a product or service. – Opinion Research Corporation

microphoneIf you are a capital management firm investing millions of dollars of clients’ resources, then reputation monitoring is probably very important. At the other end: if you’re a manufacturer of unseen widget components, your online reputation probably isn’t nearly as critical. You know your industry. Ask yourself: If someone posted a negative comment specifically about my company, product, or service – how might it impact us? Would it be worth a couple hours each month to know about it?

It doesn’t take much more than a few seconds for someone to publish something negative about you, your company, or your products and services on the web.

What’s the best way to start monitoring?

If your company, product, service, or team members are not brand new, it’s a good idea to see what mentions are out there.

  1. Make a list of keywords unique to your organization.
    This list should include your product & service names, key team members’ names, company name(s), and any other key events, publications, subjects your company is directly in charge of.
  2. See if anything pops up on Google.
    Search for each these phrases. Note the type of information that’s returned. If results are too broad, refine keywords to be more specific. Putting quotation marks around a phrase will return only exact matches: ( “Dr. Leonard McCoy” ) returns much more helpful results than ( Dr. Leonard McCoy ). You can also use the minus sign to only return results for Dr. Leonard McCoy that don’t have to do with Star Trek: ( “Dr. Leonard McCoy” – “star trek” ). Revise your list as you go by removing phrases than always seem to return irrelevant stuff and change the syntax to get better results using quotation marks, minus signs, and extra wording where necessary.
  3. Setup alerts to be notified if and when you or your company is mentioned.
    Go to Google Alerts and setup an account (or tie it to your existing account). Create an alert for each of the phrases in your list. Choose the appropriate notification schedule. Expect to tweak these alerts over time. Some will simply “spam” you with email. Other phrases may never show up. If you don’t have time for this, delegate it.
  4. Try advanced tools and services.
    If the scope of what you’d like to monitor is large, try using advanced tools and services. Mashable has a great list of “Reputation Tracking Tools Worth Paying For“. The biggest benefit these advanced tools provide over Google Alerts is having a Dashboard and increased convenience. Prices range from $20 / month on up.

Google knows about almost everything that is publicly accessible on the web. If it’s out there, there’s a good chance Google will find it for you.

I found negative comments – What do I do?

Depending on what you found and it’s context, there are different ways to respond to it. The worst thing you can do is do nothing because it will most likely sit out there on the Internet staining your name. Take action by getting involved, becoming an advocate, and proactively participating in the conversation. Here are some important guidelines on how to act online to maintain a positive reputation. These should be followed no matter what your company is “saying” on the web: whether you are responding to negative comments or just publishing opinions.

  1. Only post positive comments, responses, and statements online.
    (Just like with any other form of communication, right?)
  2. Always respond to neutral or negative opinions about you, your company, your products, or anything else in a genuinely helpful and professional “voice”.
  3. If there is a negative perception published about your company, product, or services – work to make it right and satisfy online complaints publicly on the site where they are posted. People tend to respect companies that come out, take ownership, and rectify a problem or misunderstanding publicly.
  4. Got something that just won’t go away? Natural search engine optimization can be used to “push up” other results. In doing so, it “pushes down or out” negative results.

How can I help prevent negative comments?

  • Establish a corporate sponsored social group or forum to give people a place to find answers, get help, etc.
  • Start a blog on topics that answer common questions and help solve common problems. It’s likely your blogs will show up in search engines and attract these visitors before they go to another site and vent.
  • Be accessible on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media venues.
  • Review your company vision, mission, culture regularly with your team to stay inline with it. If these statements don’t cover how your company acts online, it will prudent to spell it out.

Can I get help with this?

There are many reputation monitoring and management services. Depending on size, complexity, and importance, hiring an outside party may provide great value – saving your time, and avoid or correct embarrassing blemishes on your reputation. Effect’s Radar service incorporates reputation monitoring as well as keeping you apprised of other important happenings with your competitors and other topics.

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