Online Reputation Monitoring of Positive and Negative Buzz
Search has grown beyond the industrial commercial web and is now well integrated with personal publishing, blogs, wikis, user reviews, comments and all kinds of publishing options which makes keeping track of what is being said about a company, product or service more and more of a challenge.
Web 2.0 has brought about a smorgasbord of links, niche advertising opps, and select & targeted groups ready to support or generate buzz about a company when motivated correctly. But what about the flipside? Just do a search for Starbucks on Google and look at the 2nd result
For all of the blogs and social networks out there praising different companies and product lines, there are just as many doing the opposite. One’s reputation on the Internet is becoming just as important as, or perhaps evenmore than, one’s real world reputation. Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim and Fortune Interactive knows a bit about keeping up to date on buzz about companies, and says “A great brand can take months, if not years, and millions of dollars to build. It should be the thing you hold most precious. It can be destroyed in hours by a blogger upset with your company.”
Mr. Beal has published the Online Reputation Monitoring Beginners Guide which is a nice overview of free web tools for keeping track of what bloggers are saying about your company, its stock, and possibly even your employees.
What to track?
• Everything related to your company: variations of company/product names, names of your key employees, all applicable product or service names.
• Information related to your competition: variations of company/product names, names of key employees, all applicable product or service names.
• Information related to your industry: Moreover.com (feeds include retail investor news, clothing industry news, consumer durables news, retail sector news, etc.) as well as applicable trade publications.
Andy gives a grand list of blog search engines, web groups such as AOL and Yahoo groups, popular forums and boards, along with news and buzz tracking services. I really like this tip about Consumer Reports style and fraud reporting sites which may not offer RSS subscription just yet:
Create your own search engine at Rollyo.com. This is a great way to track sites that do not offer RSS feeds for keywords such as Consumerist.com, PlanetFeedback.com, ComplaintCenter.com, Complaints.com, Better Business Bureau and RipOffReport.com.
And about dealing with disgruntle bloggers:
• Identify the author of the blog, read their profile.
> Who are they? Who do they work for?
• Read author’s previous work to get a feel for his/her “persona.”
• Understand the threat level – How respected are they? What is their audience reach?
• If a blog post is factually incorrect…
> Ask for removal or retraction and send supporting evidence.
> Offer to keep blogger informed of future news – Google used this on me :-).
> If these outreach methods garner no response from the blog author, consider correcting the post in the comments section. This is a last resort – what you really want is correction/retraction.
• If blog post is true, but negative…
> Send your side of the story.
> Explain how you are addressing the situation.
> Add comment to post.
> Indicate your willingness to receive any email questions – take it offline.
And yes, Mr. Beal (plugging Fortune Interactive) does suggest working with a search engine optimization firm to make sure your own content is being indexed and ranked correctly, instead of that of hate sites or bloggers : “Add statement to your website – work with a search engine optimization firm to ensure all content has been optimized and will achieve top search rankings.”