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Online Reputation Management in 2007 Part Four: Monitoring Your Existing Online Presence
Thursday, July 26, 2007
We've previously discussed the need for active participation as part of your online reputation management strategy, the topic au jour is the importance of monitoring your existing online presence as part of your online reputation management strategy.

Human nature is interesting isn't it? People (ie. consumers) use search engines to find information. When they perform a query using a search engine, they do so in hope of finding information on your organization or brand. What they may discover about your organization may surprise you. Ideally, you want to make sure that your website and your online properties are listed high in the search results so that when a user types in a branded term for your business your listing(s) come up first. However this is not always the case with the search results.

Take Enron for example. Before the financial scandal of the energy company was revealed in late 2001, you would have probably found that the top 10 listings in Google for "Enron" would have consisted of the company's websites and related press releases and stories about one of the world's leading electricity, natural gas, pulp and paper, and communications companies. In fact Enron posted revenues of $111 billion in 2000. Then in 2001 the company was faced with on the biggest bankruptcy cases in U.S. history. Enter today where you perform a query for "enron" in Google and are presented with these search results. Eight out of the 10 listings deal with the negative publicity of the Enron Scandal.

While this may be an extreme case, it does illustrate how easy it is for negative press to "leak" into the prime real estate of the search engine results pages. In order to manage your online reputation, you need to know what is being said about your brand online. So exactly how do you monitor your online reputation?

Monitoring Your Online Reputation
  1. Perform a search for your brand in Google - For starters perform a couple of quick search for your brand in the search engines. Examine the top 10 organic listings as well as any sponsored ads that may be appearing. Search for brand related terms; this includes your company name, popular product names, key personnel names

  2. Perform a search in the engines for branded phrases that have been appended with negative qualifiers - Try a search for your company name with phrases such as "sucks", "rip-off" "scandal" etc. If you are lucky you will see a limited number of negative results. If you see numerous results you may have an online reputation management issue.

  3. Perform a search for your brand in social communities - Start with popular social communities such as MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube. From here visit popular industry forums and product review sites.

  4. Set Up Google and Yahoo Alerts - find out about what people are saying about you and your products, what people are blogging about. Use Google Alerts to monitor your brand reputation on the web and in the blogosphere. Similarly you can do same thing in Yahoo. Set up Google Alerts and be active in monitoring your brand. Set up alerts for key branded phrases including your company name.

  5. Monitor Your Competition - Visit your main competitor's sites to see if they are saying anything negative about your brand or your organization. This may mean that you monitor your competitors through message boards and user groups and that you set up Alerts for your competiton.
Monitoring your reputation is something that takes a dedicated effort. Due to the importance of reputation monitoring, it is something that should be part of a continuous process. If you don’t know what people are saying about your company, you will not be able to turn the negative perception around. Being unaware of negative online publicity will delay you during a time when you need to devise strategies to help counter criticism and improve your image.

Your organization's reputation is its most important asset - being immediately aware of a negative or erroneous article, blog post or negative social community presence can mean the difference between a proactive and a reactive response. The fact of the matter is, that if you provide exceptional customer service and avoid any actions that people may deem as scandalous or negative in nature, monitoring your online reputation becomes easier.


posted by Jody @ Thursday, July 26, 2007  
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