You probably know by now that protecting the reputation of your brand online is critical to success. Word spreads fast on the Internet, and whether or not something is true, it can spiral out of control in a short time. That is why it’s important to monitor what people are saying about your product, your business, and their experiences in dealing with you. What measures do you take to manage your online reputation?
There are specialists for this kind of thing that you can pay, but let’s face it. Not everyone can afford such luxuries, particularly in this economy. Luckily there are so many tools available online for free that you can do a reasonably decent job of maintaining a good reputation on your own.
1. Set Up Feed Reader
It is not critical that you use a feed reader, but it’s incredibly helpful. Why? Because it brings everything you need to know right to you in one place and eliminates the need to hunt down all of the information. It’s like having groceries delivered instead of hunting your own food.
These days most sites have RSS feeds. Most of the ones you will need for reputation management purposes will either way. There are many different feed readers availalbe. I use Google Reader.
2. Set Up Google Alerts
Go to Google Alerts, and set one up for each keyword that you want to monitor. You’ll want to do this for things like your company’s name, your products’ names, and possibly your own name and the names of employees. This will help you keep an eye on content that Google indexes. You can do this for the web, blogs, video, groups, or news. You can also use the “comprehensive option,” which should cover it all.
You can get these alerts delivered through your email, through RSS (which I prefer), or both.
3. Set Up Real Time Search Feeds
Go to any real-time search engines you can find and set up RSS feeds for the same keywords. It works essentially the same way as Google alerts, but with these you can monitor what people are saying on Twitter, and other places in real-time (although it may take slightly longer for them to come through your feed reader). Abby talks about some different real-time search engines here.
4. Stay On Top of Your Social Media Accounts
Monitor all of the major social networks, and especially the ones your business has a profile on. Engage in conversation with fans and followers. If they ask questions, answer them. Don’t use your social media profiles as just a place for sales pitches and product promotion. Use them as customer communication channels. This will reflect positively on your reputation.
The main problem with this is that it can be very time consuming, especially if you have a lot of social networks to deal with. If you can afford it, you may want to consider having a dedicated team on the social media front – a group, or even one person that can give social media the attention it requires. It is best to have someone who knows what they are talking about handling this area though. Remember, this is kind of the face of your business to some people. Some will find you on Facebook or Twitter before they even visit your website.
If you can’t get a dedicated team on it, just do what you can between yourself and your employees. Just don’t let your stuff go ignored. If you have profiles with no updates or communication happening, you’d probably be better off just not having the profiles at all, but frankly, that’s not a great idea either.
5. Do stuff that gets people talking positively
This is the most obvious one, and is really just good business. Give people something to talk about, and provide good customer service. Provide an interesting product, and people will talk about it.
Help people when they need it. Do your best to deliver an all around good experience, not just for customers who have already made a purchase, but for those who can see your brand online (which is everyone). Articles and videos are good ways to do this. Provide things of use.