You have a reputation and you need to protect it. This is how every individual, brand and business should be looking at their reputation and how it appears to others online.
The truth of the matter is, no matter how great your "in-person" reputation among family, friends and customers might be, what matters most is what's ranking at the top of Google. The problem here is that Google doesn't know you. Instead, it only knows "of you", and based on the data it finds across the internet it will determine what information is most accurate and it will rank that content in the order it chooses too -- even if it's true or false.
For this reason, it's extremely important for everyone to monitor their personal and business brands online. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done -- and not simply a matter of putting your name into Google to see what comes up.
To successfully monitor, manage and protect your online reputation, you must implement the 3-point checklist we've laid out for you below.
1 - Know What to Monitor and Track
Knowing when and where you name or brand is mentioned online is key to the protection of your reputation. To successfully do this, you must search not only your name but also every aspect of your brand or business, such as:
- Company name, location, address
- Name of products or services
- Names of employees within the company
- Names of your closest competition
By monitoring each of these components, you will be able to receive updates and reports on nearly every aspect of your brand -- no matter if it's positive, negative or neutral.
2 - Use the Right Tools to Monitor Mentions
If you were to try and monitor your online mentions and reputation manually, this would simply be an impossible task. With a list of your target keywords, terms and search phrases in hand, it's time to sync them up with the best online tracking tools to automate the process.
We've listed some of the best tools for you below.
- Google Alerts - A free tool provided by Google, that will send daily email alerts whenever your specified keywords appear within new content in Google.
- SocialMention - To get a full grasp on your brand mentions online, you will need to look beyond just the search results. Social Mention is a free tool that allows you to easily search, track and measure brand mentions across not only social networks, but also news sites, blogs and other media outlets.
- Trackur - Trackur is an advanced online monitoring tool that was created by ORM expert, Andy Beal. Setup social media monitoring and have access to instant notifications when your name, brand or keyword is found across any of the major social networks.
Depending on your budget and how widescale of a monitoring you want to accomplish, each of these tracking solutions will fit your needs differently. You can see our full list of monitoring tools here.
3 - Have a Monitoring and Engagement Plan in Place
Knowing what search phrases to monitor and having the right tracking solution in place is only half the battle. Once you've had the opportunity to see where, why and how your brand is being mentioned online, it's time for you to react. However, not every situation will be the same, which is why it's so important to know how to act.
Here's a quick three-step engagement process on how you should approach each brand mention.
- Act Fast, but Smart - Whether the content you find is within the search results, in social media or in an open forum, you are going to want to respond to it as soon as possible. Each content piece will need to be addressed differently based on its content and location. Always respond in a manner that won't escalate the situation and try to address the individual complaint or user in private vs. in an open forum.
- Represent Your Brand Well - It's not easy to always act in a professional matter when yourself or your brand is being attacked, however, this is something you must learn to do. The only thing worse than coming across negative content on your brand is escalating the negativity of your reputation or situation by adding fuel to the fire. In short, respond to all situations in a nice and courteous way. To accomplish this, think about how you would like to be treated if you were the end user in each unique situation.
- Have a PR / Crisis Management Team in Place - Not all reputation management findings will be as easy as telling the end user you are sorry for the experience they had and that you would like to make it all better. In fact, some instances through online complaints or branding disasters can quickly spread globally through social media in just minutes. For this reason, it's extremely important to always have a public relations and crisis management team on hand at all time. This isn't necessarily a full team that you need to have within your business, but you should have someone on retainer and legal counsel for extreme cases.
With all three of these data points and checklists now in place, it's time for you to take control over your reputation online. Remember, it's not just about knowing where and when your name is being mentioned, but also about how to respond in a quick and effective matter to keep your reputation safe.