This is a guest post by Erin Steiner.
Whatever business you are in, making sure you know what people are saying about you online is key to your professional survival. You need to monitor and protect your online reputation just as closely as you would monitor your offline reputation.
Here are nine ways that you can do that.
1. Hire a professional service
Managing, maintaining, and monitoring your web rep is a time-consuming process, especially if your business is well established. Hiring a professional service to monitor things for you can save you a lot of time. There are a lot of fantastic services out there to choose from. The cost of hiring these services is well worth it, especially if they can help you bring in more profits.
Of course, not everybody is able to hire a professional service. If this sounds like you (or you’re a type A who has to do everything herself), try one of the following:
2. Set Up Google Alerts
Set up Google alerts for your business name, your name, and the names of other major players within your company. It’s the same thing you’d do to keep track of your competition, right? Doing it for yourself will help you monitor whatever is said about you in the news and on the blogs. This helps you make sure that things being reported about you are accurate and, if not, you can take the proper steps to correct them.
3. Monitor Social Media
It’s not hard to search Twitter and Facebook for mentions of your company, you, etc. Do a regular search through the most popular social media platforms. This is a lot easier if you have accounts set up for your company so that people can tag you, mention you, pin you, etc. This way you’ll be notified automatically whenever you get a mention.
4. Use Technorati
Not a lot of people talk about Technorati anymore, but if you want to know what people are saying about you within the blogosphere, Technorati is the best portal for that. Simply enter your company name, your name, etc., and then see what the blogs are saying.
5. Comments Matter
Actually read all of the comments that are left on your company’s blog, social media accounts, etc. Don’t just let them sit there stagnant. If you want to build your reputation as well as monitor it, make sure that you actually respond to the comments that are left for you. This is especially important when people leave questions for you to answer.
6. Visit the Review Sites Regularly
Sites like Yelp and Google offer space for people to leave reviews of the experiences they have had with local businesses. You probably use these sites to figure out whether or not to patronize companies and businesses in your own area. Visit the pages that are set up for your company regularly and keep an eye on the reviews that get left for you. If someone posts something false, be sure to correct it. If someone posts a problem, make sure you actually look into that problem and try to fix it.
7. Monitor the Message Boards and Forums
Yes, people do still spend quite a lot of time participating on message boards and in forums. If you want to find out whether or not anybody is talking about you, use a service like Boardtracker. This way you can see what kind of conversations people are having about you online.
8. Google Isn’t Everything
Make sure you have alerts set up for services like Bing and Yahoo, too! While most people consider Google to be the ultimate search engine, it has not yet eviscerated its competition. Bing and Yahoo are still going strong and will often have results that are different than those that turn up in a Google search. Check in with these engines regularly to see what comes up when you search for your name, your company’s name, etc.
This is going to seem revolutionary and weird, but one of the best ways to track and monitor your online reputation is to simply ask people what they’ve seen about you online. Encourage people to tell you when they find your business online. You can encourage this behavior by offering rewards (like discounts off of future purchases) for pointing you to certain reviews, articles, etc. This gets your clients, buyers, and community in on the act and takes a lot of the leg work away from you.
Lots of pieces go into your reputation.
Don’t you want to know what they are?
For the most part, monitoring your online reputation is based on common sense stuff. The best way to learn what is being said about you is to do the same things you’d do if you wanted to learn about someone else. Good luck!
About the author
Erin Steiner is a freelance writer from Portland, Oregon, who covers a wide variety of topics including reputation management best practices, how to best portray an attitude of web professionalism, and more.