3 Ways to Proactively Monitor Your Online ReputationThere is not much in contemporary business that trades on more equity than your business reputation. Stock prices fluctuate because of it, and the media boiling point is reached at disconcerting speed for either good and bad praise or hostility about businesses globally. The first step to managing your online business reputation is to be able to monitor what is being said about you, by whom, and how often. If it’s all great, it’s all good friends. Business worldwide both large and small duel daily using the double-edged, sword of Internet power. You need to know about the poison comments too, and of course, if nothing is being said about your business onlíne, well, that is a problem all in itself.

Good or Evil?

From a marketing viewpoint, we have the capacity to reach more people in remote corners of the world than ever before, leveraging the incredible reach of the Internet to connect with our blogs, videos, and shopping carts that have no geographical limitations. The other side of that coin is that we now inhabit a world where anonymous people can go for their 15 minutes of fame as ad hoc writers, video producers and critics, which can spell trouble for your company.

Google, Yahoo and other search engines give huge validity to sites like Wikipedia and RipOffReport.com in the spirit of full disclosure, especially on big business. Trouble is, fact checking ain’t what it used to be if indeed it happens at all. Loud online voices providing great buzz on your goods and services can provide a fantastic bump albeit unjustified by reality. Bully for you! The sting of acrimonious haters can cost you prospects, customers and dollars to an incredible extent also.

The Most Common Keyword in Modern Business

What do you think is the most often used keyword today in business? This isn’t a trick question or a gag. It is in fact the word, “keyword.” Think about it. There is so much guidance about SEO and onlíne marketing that revolves around how people browse the web, specifically, Google. That means controlling what keywords you use to advertise your website and be found, trying to mirror what people are browsing for and in a unique enough way to reduce competition. As a result we have long tail keywords which are phrases like “How to winterize your boat” so that when someone does eventually look for that, our page or Adwords ad is right there to be discovered.

To keep track of your online reputation, keywords are also what you use to ascertain who and what is being said about you. The easy way to do this to begin with is of course to Google your company name. You’re going to find your web sites surely, but if there is bad stuff available you’re going to see that also. If it falls on page 1 of Google returns, you have a developing situation.

Remembering to do that weekly or every few days is something that just isn’t top of mind. Here are three devices you can use to effortlessly investigate the real-time chatter.

Google Alerts

Google alerts enable you to choose keywords relative to, in this case, your business name and Google will email you instances when they come up online as indexed by the Google search engine. Go to www.google.com/alerts to set this up. Depending on the size and online reputation of your organization, you can adjust the frequency of these email alerts from daily to weekly. There are a couple of refining options. Picking type = ‘Everything’ will keep track of all of the buzz about whatever keywords you type in, comma delimited. For most small businesses, a weekly notification should be adequate.

Here are some tips for what you might want to monitor to see what your customers might find:

* Your business name, including any partitions or alternative names as applicable
* Your competition
* Various misspellings of your organization name
* Your flagship product names, part numbers and trade names
* Your key executive names– bad juju on your top people will reflect poorly on your company

Social Oomph

Google Alerts monitors the Google database. Social Oomph allows you to track tweets. You need to create a free account and then go to Monitors/Keyword Alert Emails on the left hand menu. You are allowed to set up to 50 keywords or phrases to rake the tweet-o-sphere for and email you recaps either daily or every twelve hours.

The keyword tips are the same as for Google Alerts. The cool thing about monitoring Twitter chatter is that it has a very real-time element to it. If ill will is being spread, you may have the capability to join the ongoing conversation and correct the record or counter the conversation when it is at its most toxic and influential to your business reputation.

By Karl Walinskas (c) 2011