My favorite line (which our social media clients will attest to) is: “The conversation about your brand is happening online whether you want it to or not. The only thing sticking your head in the sand does for you is breed ignorance and cede the floor to the naysayers.”
With the advent of services such as Yelp, Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, customers no longer have to wait to get out the door to write a letter of complaint or praise via snail mail. They can–and will– do it right there under your nose. Anyone at any time can generate a social media post that describes you inaccurately or criticizes your performance, service or product. Social media sites make it easy to to trash everything from bad food to slow service, and that is not what you want potential clients to find online. If you’ve spent any time making a good name for yourself, keeping it so online is a priority.
We recommend you track what people are saying about you online at least once a week. Here are our favorite free tools (there are many good paid services, as well):
Social Mention This real-time Internet tracking aggregates mentions about your brand from across the web (and the universe, they proclaim) to give you a snapshot of who is talking about you and what they are saying. While it’s not 100% accurate (we find it sometimes pulls in other accounts if you have a common Twitter or Facebook name), it does a great job of finding blog forum and Twitter mentions. While it dishes out some questionable metrics (Passion? Sentiment?), the lists of top keywords, top hastags and top users it returns is invaluable information for your social media monitoring.
MonitorThis is another easy search tool that feeds mentions from 26 various search engines like Google Blogsearch, delicious, MSN, Yahoo News, Flickr and many others. What’s particularly nice here is that it features a ‘Get as RSS’ button that lets you directly subscribe to a list of feeds it pulls up.
Board Tracker watches conversation in discussion forums and keeps you up to speed on mentions. Just set alerts based on your specific keywords and you’ll be notified any time your brand’s name is mentioned in a forum.
TweetBeep is a Twitter tracker that keeps track of conversations that mention you, your products, your company, your brand–and gives you frequent e-mailed updates.
Google Alerts are regular email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of keyword or topic.
The real answer to online reputation lies in constantly building, updating and maintaining your online brand. This way, any negative commentary is automatically countered by positive news and information you’ve already put out.