Reputation management is going to be a massive growth area for brands over the next few years. Imagine the power in being able to monitor, track and aggregate everything that people are saying about your company and brand online, on blogs, websites, forums, everywhere in fact that your potential clients can find it. With more and more people researching potential purchases online it won’t just be useful to monitor online sentiment, it’ll become vital.
This is something everyone should have setup. Google alerts will notify you by email every time they find a mention of a specific keyword anywhere online. By setting alerts for keywords like your company name, brand/product names, key staff etc you can keep track of when and why you’re getting mentions online. Key queries include [domain name], [domainname], [domainname.com], [your name], [Brand Name], [yourname], etc.
Google Blog Search
Play with the date parameters to see what people have been saying about your company in the past few days
Lets you find out what people have been saying about you on forums and discussion boards. Many companies keep a close eye on this and react to positive/negative comments.
While Twitter is still quite new to a lot of people, it has a huge user base, and many larger tech and media companies are already using it to connect with their audience. Using Twitter Search you can monitor mentions of your company. Subscribe to the RSS feed to be alerted with new brand mentions.
If you don’t read and respond to this post I will sully your brand by writing vicious articles about your company and I will make sure these articles appear top fo search engines.
Yes, this is the sort of world we live in now where criminals and less than scrupulous companies will seek to dominate what is being said about your brand.
THE MORE PROSAIC TRUTH
In reality the above is pretty uncommon though it will happen. What concerns most of us is how do we know what is being said about our company online and by whom.
We all know that word or mouth opinions are the most powerful in terms of influencing customer behaviour. Most of the time word of mouth extends to just 2-3 people, but what if this opinion finds its way to the top of Google each time someone does a search on your brand or company name. This can be disastrous.
Consider these listings for Dabs.com and laptops direct. These companies could be suffering hugely because of these postings. They may have been made by lone protesters but whoever they are their views are appearing on the first page of Google and that’s going to hurt.
Online reputation management is a relatively new “industry” as companies have caught on and comprehended the power of bloggers and opinion formers.
The service usually involves applying software to “monitor” comment and stories being written within the blogoshphere. The comments are then graded as to their content (positive, negative, neutral) and the writers influence (obviously a comment from the on the BBC site is obviously much more important than one from a lone blogger in Antartica.)
If a client’s reputation is seen to be suffering then a “reputation repair” service is instigated. The purpose of this is to drive any negative comments from Google’s index, and to post more positive comments within the blogs where the damage is being done.
As always, with any PR it is important that companies do not lie about their product or service. If people are posting genuine grievances “The steak was like leather”, “the cashier was rude” etc then a this should be addressed politely and any improvements that have been made should be highlighted. Accentuating the positive rather than prolonging the negative is key here.
Datadial have launched their own Reputation management service this year and have already enabled blue chip clients to stifle negative press appearing Google and other search engines. The service breaks down into personal reputation management, brand reputation management and corporate reputation management.