One of the most important assets a company has is its online reputation. Your online reputation effects how customers view your company and brand, how much search engines “trust” your website and whether or not your company will be able to survive any negative attention. Monitoring what people are saying about your company online is a crucial component is maintaining your online reputation. Social networking sites offer a bevy of information and online chatter about your brand. If you aren’t actively checking online conversation that center around your company, you could be in the middle of a firestorm and not even know it.
Twitter is a great place to keep an eye on your brand. The micro-blogging social networking site allows users to post 140 characters at a time. These 140 can either praise or rant about your company. Once a Tweet is posted, it is shared with all of that user’s connections. It can be reTweeted by any of those connections, so now the Tweet is being passed on to another group of users. A popular Tweet can spread around the world in a matter of moments. Tools like HootSuite and and TweetDeck allow you to see when your company name is being used in a Tweet.
Twitter is also a great tool for your customer service representatives to monitor. Many consumers Tweet complaints or ask for help, so being able to quickly respond to a user is a great way to maintain a good relationship with that user, as well as protect your online reputation. An angry Twitter using can quickly become a satisfied customer.
Google Realtime will show you how much social networking activity has been going on around your search. This can include your company name, products, brand name, employees, etc. It should be noted that most of the Realtime results are pulled from Twitter, as Google does not have access to Facebook information. Bing, however, does incorporate Facebook into their search results.
You can stay also stay up-to-date by setting email alerts that note every time your desired phrase is used online. This includes social networks, articles, press releases, blog and more. It’s a good way to get a snapshot of where your company name is being used and it what context. Set up several alerts using different keywords (company name, brand name, well-known employees, etc) so you don’t accidentally miss something.
Most businesses would be wise to also keep their business profiles and local search profiles under heavy scrutiny. Sites like Yelp are a breeding ground for customer reviews, the good, the bad and they ugly. As more and more customers are looking to these sites for peer recommendations, a steady string of average or bad reviews could keep potential customers away. Encourage satisfied customers to write reviews as a way to counteract any negative ones.