Go ahead, do a vanity search (otherwise known as “Google-ing”) for your name or business. Do you like what you find? So often, people say they’ve done this and have been unhappy at the information they find. It’s old, it’s personal, it’s simply wrong. Don’t waste your time trying to get those webmasters to remove your information because they: 1) won’t 2) aren’t home 3) have been closed down 4) there are simply too many 5) they all get their information from somewhere. You can be proactive with your online information (see How to Get Started in Reputation Management) and displace it with content you DO want people to see. Or you can list yourself.
Why is it important to make sure the information about yourself on the internet is correct? Yellow Pages Association and comScore found that local search for businesses, products and services grew 58% last year and reached 15.7 billion searches, more than a tenth of overall search traffic. Additionally, see this Sprout Social blog to read more about the benefits of social media on local search results.
According to Internet Reputation Management, 94% of people do research before buying and 60% of those are going to research you online. They might use a phone, they might not. If they were to call you, they most likely aren’t using a traditional phone directory. People under the age of 35 probably don’t have a landline. Did you know that if you don’t have a landline, you may not get a book delivered to your door? It’s true. 18 states have enacted an opt-in policy for delivery and only 2% choose to receive one. Check out this infographic by WhitePages to see the status of the phone book.
Here are some tools that I think you’ll find helpful. Granted, there are more here than you’ll ever really use but pick and choose the ones you want to list yourself on. Focus on the biggies towards the top of the list and the ones that have incorrect info about you and get them the right stuff:
- Google Places
- Merchant Circle
- Manta (really common search result)
- Facebook (get a business page and list your address)
- Citysearch (click register to get started)
- InsiderPages (sign up then search for your business, claim it, or create your listing)
- Localeze (search for your business, claim or add listing)
- Angie’s List
- Get Listed (an aggregate and will show you what your listings look like)
Read more blogs by Kerry Rego Consulting on Reputation Management: http://bit.ly/krcrepmng
[Image via Sustainable SPC]
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]
We knew that Facebook was going to introduce Timeline for Pages today but they jumped the gun and debuted it late last night. I turned mine on early this morning and have been tinkering with it all day. You have the ability to preview it and work with it up until March 30, 2012 when it’ll go live for all Pages. Here is a synopsis for you.
What you need to know:
- Default landing tabs are gone (if you still use FBML, it will disappear completely in June 2012)
- There is a Message feature so fans (and non fans) can privately communicate with Page admins
- The custom apps or tabs are now 760px wide (and you can change their images)
- The Timeline will go into effect for all pages March 30
- You can pin an important post to the top for a maximum of 7 days
- You can highlight posts to make them bigger.
- You can add Milestones as well (you can change the date of the post so that it fits in chronologically)
- This is the visual story of your business or organization
Your cover photo may be up to 850px by 315px, but may not include:
- Calls to action such as “Go to our website” or “Like this page”
- No reference to Facebook features such as Like, Share, Comment, etc.
- Contact info for the business (this should be in About)
- Price information
Are you turning yours on now or waiting?
Blogging is one of the best ways you can communicate the culture, values, and story of your company. Yet, it’s the one tool that seems to be the most difficult for organizations to commit to doing. Most don’t think they can create enough content. It is daunting, no doubt about it. But here is a great starter list to help reduce the fear of undertaking a blog for your business.
I like to start my clients off with one blog per month. Twelve subjects per year? Easy. Once you have the hang of it, up it to two per month, and when you’re ready you can tackle once per week. Take turns with someone else on your team or staff to lighten the load. Blogs should be shorter than you think so it’s not the thesis of your college days. Many marketers recommend blogging every day or three times per week. If you are just starting out, expecting that this is a pace you can do is simply setting yourself up for disappointment. One per month is achievable and you can quickly add to your routine if it’s working for you. Create a twelve month calendar and assign subjects to months that are appropriate for your business. Persistence is key!
- Seasons, weather, and holidays. How is your business effected by the seasons? If you are a tax accountant, first quarter looks very different for you and your clients than the rest of the year. Clothing retailers adjust their offerings based on the season. What are your seasons? Also, each day, week, and month celebrate something. If today is National Peanut Day and you sell peanut butter, talk about it!
- Busy time and quiet time. Your communications are quite different when things are slow as opposed to when they are busy. What product or service would you like to sell more of during the slow season?
- Industry related events. Most industries have annual conventions and educational events. When you return after attending one of these functions, what have you learned that you can share with your customers?
- Education. Every industry has it’s changes and you are an expert in your field. What changes in your industry do your customers need to be educated about?
- Employee features. You probably don’t do it alone. Highlight the great team you have that helps you provide great products and service. Your team will get a boost in their morale due to recognition and your customers will learn more about the faces and families behind the product they are getting from you. It becomes personal.
- Vendors and partners. The vendors you work with are great for a reason, tell us about it! Talk about why you choose to work with them. Those partners will be grateful for the free press and it will solidify your relationship.
- Case study and/or client success story. Seeing how you’ve helped others will help your reader identify and apply the story of success to themselves.
- Testimonials and interviews. Get client testimonials (especially when they are really happy!) and let their words to the talking. Video testimonials are the best. Talk to industry experts, your best customer, vendors, thought leaders. It takes content out of it’s normal context and provides a new way to talk about your subject matter.
- Product release. What new product are you proud to be releasing? Give us some excitement by building it up. Let us know why you created it, what the demand was, how we can get it, and when it’ll be ready.
- Hot topics. If there is something exciting and dramatic going on with your industry or if it’s in the news right now, weigh in with your opinion or break it down for the audience if the subject matter is confusing.
- History and story of your company. Why did you start your business? What is important to you? People want to like the people they do business with and want to do business with people they like. Give them something to go on. They will tell your story for you when they recommend you to their friends.
- Differentiate yourself from your competition. What makes you different? What is the benefit that your customer will get using your services? You can take this opportunity to clarify if there is any confusion about who does what. This is also very important to be able to express in all marketing scenarios.
- Identify obstacles and solutions. These are the ones that you know like the backs of your hands. The problems they will encounter and the solutions that will help them overcome. Walk yourself through the typical client conversation, what problems do they experience?
- Survey. Take a survey of your clients or prospects and release the information as a dataset. Tell them if you were surprised what you learned, what the community thinks, or what was reiterated.
- Frequently Asked Questions. These are the 10 or so questions that everyone asks you. You answer them all the time. Since people continue to ask, you should continue to answer. These never get old. The trick is to express the question and answer in new ways.
What was the best blog you ever read or wrote? Tell me in the comments.
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!
Why should you get a custom URL on Facebook? I have five good reasons for you.
One, it’s simply easier to remember. Now that we’ve gotten over the need to say “www dot”, we are comfortable saying “Find me on Facebook. I’m at facebook.com/KerryRegoConsulting“.
Two, you can put it on all your marketing materials. Your main website, email signature, business card, brochure, blog etc. It’s easier to type http://www.facebook.com/KerryRegoConsulting than http://www.facebook.com/kerryregoconsulting?v=app_4949752878.
Four, it’s free. You can have your own branded name at no cost. I’m a fan of the Facebook custom URL for both personal and business because it’s digital real estate. We have to pay for our individual domains but these are available, first come first served. They are also non-transferrable. You can’t give away your name and no one can sell it.
Last, I have a friend that is a Broadway performer. Her stage name happens to be the same as a XXX performer. She discovered this because casting agents brought it to her attention. This adult performer also owns the URL they both share. This is worst case scenario but what if an unsavory character decides to take your URL? If a client or associate goes looking for your name and you didn’t claim it or someone else did, what are they going to find?
If you are ready, go to http://www.facebook.com/username and claim your personal and/or business name before someone else does.