Reputation monitoring and management have become hot topics and will only continue to grow. These are becoming important areas for all businesses, large and small, to focus on as more and more people turn to the Web to communicate through blogs, their own Web sites, as well as the ever-growing opportunities for online consumer reviews and ratings.
Here is a quick Reputation Management 101 rundown of five tips in each of five different areas to get you started:
Pre-emptive measures are best
The old adage of prevention being the best cure carries a lot of weight here.
- Always strive to view your site through the eyes of your visitors
- Make sure that contact information is available, easy to find, and working
- Respond to messages in a timely manner
- When issues do start to crop up, fix them before they become widespread
- Strive to achieve that level at which customers, clients and visitors are singing your praises publicly for you
Places to monitor
Start creating bookmarks of specific sites to monitor.
- Use Google and Yahoo email alerts, as well as regular manual searches, in all major engines to search for your company name, product and brand names, or mentions of your URL
- Especially if you have a local presence, look for local Web sites to monitor
- Keep an eye on the blogosphere, and set up RSS feeds for monitoring
- Don't forget general or topical forums
- Also keep an eye on sites with consumer reviews and ratings
There are many things you should do, but here are some especially important ones to keep in mind.
- Decide whether a response is warranted
- Decide whether a response or discussions are better suited for offline, one-to-one conversations
- Take time before responding to remove any chance of emotions tainting your response
- If at all possible, have someone else read your response before posting
- Use responses as a way to reach out to your audience, even if the conversation needs to be handled offline
Of course, no list of dos would be complete without a list of don'ts.
- Don't get defensive
- Don't attack or get personal
- Don't shirk blame or avoid responsibility
- Don't pretend to be someone else and make posts that appear to be from "satisfied customers" coming to your defense
And to round out our list, here are some key things to keep in mind.
- Remember that what you say privately could be made public by others
- Remember that most of the people posting negative comments are looking to express their frustrations, seek acknowledgment and be valued
- View this as an opportunity to build stronger relationships, to show goodwill and to show that you care
- People have always been able to say negative things about you or your company; now it is just easier to do it publicly, but it is also easier for people to tell everyone how great you are as well
- Set and keep a schedule for monitoring, and automate as much of it as possible
For a more detailed view, including some specific sites to look at for monitoring, you may want to check out Andy Beal's resource, Free Online Reputation Management Beginner's Guide, over at Marketing Pilgrim.