We have always talked about each other, it’s human nature. The difference is now that the internet is involved, our words can last forever. Disparaging remarks can damage a hard earned reputation. It is recommended that individuals and businesses monitor their reputation to make sure that if something negative is in the public eye, it can be addressed. Positive things also surface and it’s nice to thank people for their support or discover something about you online that you simply didn’t know about.
For those that don’t want to actively participate in the online communities that abound, reputation management is the minimum level that is required in today’s digital world. You don’t need to use social networks or other tools but if you don’t know what’s being said about you, your business and reputation could be going down the toilet while you are completely unaware. (Entrepreneur.com article “How to Clean Up an Online Reputation”)
The most frequent comment I hear when it comes to managing online tools of any kind is “I don’t have the time. I’m really busy.” Guess what? No one has the time. We are all busy. Just like the gym and the dentist, you simply must make the time. We no longer use the physical phone book. What people find when they search your name online is what they believe. Carve out a half hour a week and chip away at this task. It will be well worth it in the end. Once you’ve set yourself up, check back in monthly or quarterly. Monitoring is something you can do at a very minimal level and many of the tools I list below remind you on a regular basis or are automated.
The first step is to perform a vanity search most commonly called “Google-ing yourself”. Enter your name, business name, or known as names into search engines. Make sure you do this on not just Google but Bing, Yahoo, Blekko, and any other search tool you know about. Just because Google Powered search engines have 68% market share doesn’t mean they are the only player whose search results of which you need to pay attention. Write down anything you want to follow up on, positive or negative. According to Internet Reputation Management, 85% people check only the first page of search results. I recommend not stopping there. Go as far into those search results as you can. Don’t give up until you stop seeing results associated with you. Dig like your life depends on it. It just might.
Once the vanity search is out of the way, you now have the task of monitoring any new information that pops up about you. Here’s a list of tools that will be useful for you and not all of them will apply to your needs.
- Google Alerts. This tool is free and easy to set up. It provides you emails as new search results as they happen, once per day, or once per week (your choice). You can also get them in an RSS feed. This tool is the top reputation monitoring solution at 45% usage.(Web Liquid survey). Set one up for your name, business name, maiden name, full URL of your website, Facebook page, Twitter handle, competitor’s name, industry keywords and anything else you can think up. Get creative.
- Social Mention. This tool is like Google Alerts but specifically for social media. It’s free and you can get daily alerts for brands, businesses, news stories and more.
- Brand Yourself. Free with upgrade options. BY makes it easy for you to monitor your search results and gives you action items to improve those results.
- Google Places. Local search results are tremendously important for your business. Decision engines that help people navigate the world (Yelp! Ask.com and more) link up to Google Places and get business information including location, driving directions, phone numbers, hours of operation, coupons, pictures, videos and more. Google sets this up for a lot of organizations so you may already have a GP page without even knowing about it. Make sure your locale is set up correctly. Claim your location and control that information.
- Yelp. This tool is a negative reputation all by itself. Generally considered to be a place to kvetch, it can also contain good reviews. Make sure you check out what people might be saying about you here and setup your business correctly and monitor it on a regular basis.
- Tweet Angel. Twitter is often used for complaining about a customer experience. Even if you don’t use Twitter yourself, that doesn’t mean that your customers aren’t. This service will call you when someone speaks negatively about your business and allows you to determine the response. Cost from $9.95-$29.95 per month.
- Get Listed. See how your business is listed on search engines. Here’s a list of directories.
- LinkedIn. Many people don’t understand the true power of this online tool. LinkedIn is one of the most highly trusted source of information on individuals and is the least social of all the social networking tools so it doesn’t require much of your time. LinkedIn is where business happens. Get your profile up, make sure it’s current, and have a friend read through it for you for their impression and for grammatical and spelling errors. This is your resume, references, and portfolio of work. Once you build it, you just need to check it once and awhile to make sure it’s up to date and is reflective of where you are in your career.
How to Get Started in Reputation Managementis a blog I wrote about how to dominate the search results associated with your name.
Read more blogs by Kerry Rego Consulting on Reputation Management: http://bit.ly/krcrepmng
[Image via Online Reputation Management]
Google has managed to kill their best product with a variety of changes they’ve made within the last few weeks. They introduced Google Search + Your World, a tool that when you use their search engine, you have the option of seeing what your friends have shared on the subject. Then they began pushing Google+ posts into their search results at the sacrifice of actually relevant search results. Watch this video by Focus on the User that explains how this compromises the tool and demonstrates a Firefox extension called Don’t Be Evil (developed by Facebook and Twitter engineers) that allows you to override what Google is doing. Then they rewrote all of their privacy policies into one and upped their tracking of users across multiple websites creating a what they call an improvement of service with no way to opt out.
They were already under Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation for their monopolistic business practices. When they released Google Search + Your World in mid January 2012, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a complaint with the FTC and Google+ was added to the investigation.
Even though they only have 65% of market share on search according to Bloomberg, the phrase “violation of anti-trust legislation” is being used continuously. They aren’t technically violating anti trust laws with 65% but that’s not where they will lose the war. They are going to lose on user loyalty. The number two search engine, Bing by Microsoft, only has 14% market share but when users fully comprehend how much their privacy is being completely thrown away, I believe they will run to the next best competitor in droves. Maybe their hold will only change a few percentage points but the damage has been done. Privacy is rarely my largest concern but the magnitude of your personal shared information being rebroadcast in such a public way, has even me ready to reassign my default browser to the company that shall not be named. That’s how I felt when I talked about the company that brought us Windows. They had a shade of Voldemort for me but now I feel the evil has shifted.
I’ve had several upset people ask how jump ship so here are step by step instructions on how to delete your Google+ profile.
What is your biggest concern about Google’s changes? Or do you even care?
[Image via Stock.xchng]
Google has really messed up their number one product, Google Search. Many people are upset over their loss of privacy and their ability to have some control over their content. I’ve had several people ask me during my social media and technology training sessions how they can delete their Google+ profiles. If this is something you’d like to do, here are instructions on how to just delete your Google+ profile and not your whole Google account.
- Log into Google
- Click on your name in the upper right hand corner
- Select Account Settings
- In the Account Overview tab, look for the section Services
- Select Delete Profile and Remove Associated Google+ features
- On the next page, select the Required checkbox at the bottom then click Remove Selected Services (This I am not able to test to confirm because I don’t want to click on it until I’m ready. I am assuming there is some kind of confirmation on the next page. Use common sense and read the instructions.)
Let me know if you try this (in the comments) if they change how it’s done and I’ll update.
Sometimes I only get 30 seconds with a business owner. What piece of information do I share that will have the most impact on their business? “If you do nothing else, claim your Google Places page!” Why?
The web (and our customers) are increasingly mobile. It’s of utmost importance that your information is correct and available to the public no matter where they are or what type of device they are using to access the internet. Google’s goal is to provide accurate information when and where their customers need it. They have emphasized local businesses by giving them prominent placement at the very top of the page where they place paid ads.
Type in the name of your business on Google. You will know if one has already been created for you if you click on the red pin on your location. Those Google Street View cars may have already claimed your location. All you need to do is claim it as the owner. It’s takes a little time but it is free.
Now read your Place page. That’s what Google thinks of your business. Is the information listed correct? Does it link to your website and other web properties? It’s important because this information is served to other decision engines like Yelp, Bing, and shopping sites. It gets passed around and around on the web. Make sure you list your services, types of payment, hours of operation, location, website and pictures or video if you have them. You can link this to your website so that it’s easy for visitors to get driving directions.
That’s my 30 second social media business advice. Get your business listed!