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]