When Vegas Goes Viral: Reputation Management Online

The power of the average consumer is stronger than ever. Blame the Internet and more specifically, social media for this. Blogs, review sites, Facebook, Twitter, and more provide the infrastructure where a single consumer can tarnish, and in some cases, even destroy a company’s reputation online. And while there may be times when a company deserves a bad rap, many times it is simply a misunderstanding.

With this in mind, small business owners, PR personnel and brand managers should make sure they have all the necessary tools and strategies to help them to protect their brands online. This post will reveal some of the methods and tools available to monitor online reputation for names, brands and even specific keywords and phrases.

  • Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. This is an easy way to monitor what is being said about your brand or even your individual name. Best of all, it’s completely free! However, if you want to monitor your online reputation across multiple online media including blogs, news sites, social media, etc., you are going to need something a little more robust.

Google Alerts are set up in five easy steps:

1.Select your term.

2. Select source including news, blogs, web, comprehensive, video & groups.

3. Choose how often you want to receive alerts including “as-it-happens,” “once a day,” and “once a week.”

4. You have the option of receiving 10 or 50 results at a time.

5. Select a delivery option.

  • Trackur is a premier online reputation and social media-monitoring tool for SMBs. It’s designed to assist in tracking what is said about you or your company on the Internet. Trackur scans millions of web pages, including blogs, images, news, video, social media, and even forums, and lets you know if it discovers anything that matches the terms you put into it. Using sophisticated social media monitoring and filtering technology, Trackur is like an online reputation big brother. It does the heavy lifting for you so you don’t have to.

Trackur offers four pricing levels from the “Personal” level at $18/mo up to the “Ultimate” level at $377/mo. They even offer a 10-day trial on all plans that will allow you to test drive the application. And if $18 a month is beyond your budget, try the free option?

  • BrandsEye will monitor all mentions of your brand online, actively manage your online conversation with regular notifications, turn data into accurate insights using the power of the crowd and generate custom reports to review and share. They have three subscription levels ranging from just $99/mo. to over 2,000/mo. for their Platinum level of service.

Monitor Reputation via Twitter

Twitter has grown from a micro-blogging, instant messaging, chat room to a place where a mass of people discuss and share just about anything in real time. Often times breaking news hits Twitter before the major news and media outlets are able to chime in. Likewise, Twitter users are discussing people, products, services and companies as well – both good and bad. This is why it has become essential for PR people and brand managers to pay attention to what is being said about their brands on Twitter.

  • Ø  @ Tab on Twitter. If you simply want to monitor references to your Twitter user name, the @ tab on Twitter.com or the @ reply function (if using third party application such as TweetDeck) will show every tweet that responds to your username. This can be especially useful if you want to interact with Twitter users. Creating brand awareness however is dependent on whether your username is closely associated with your real name or one of your brand names (e.g., @Zappos, @NASCAR, @Google).
  • TweetDeck is a real-time desktop application that allows users to monitor information in a single concise view. Not only can you create multiple columns around Twitter accounts and search terms, but integration with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Buzz and Foursquare accounts is a breeze. TweetDeck separates itself from other third party Twitter applications by allowing users to split their main Twitter feed (All Friends) into columns allowing a broader overview of tweets.

Searching across the Twittersphere means you can monitor any subject within Twitter. These additional columns automatically update so providing the user with a very effective dashboard of realtime information. One could just as easily do this for a specific keyword, keyword phrase or brand/product name.

  • Monitter lets you track Twitter for a set of keywords and watch what people are saying, all in real time. Just type a keyword or phrase into the search box displayed on the site’s home page and within seconds you’ll start seeing relevant tweets streaming live. Add columns to see multiple streams on various topics of interest.They also offer a widget that you can install on your site.
  • BackTweets allows you to enter any domain and see how many times it has been “linked” to within the Twitter world. While any decent backlinks-checker may do the same thing, this tool narrows it down to Twitter and can help you to see how often twitter users are linking to your sites.
  • TweetBeep is like Google Alerts for Twitter. TweetBeep allows you to keep track of conversations that mention you, your products, or your company, with hourly updates. You can even keep track of who’s tweeting your website or blog, even if they use a shortened URL (e.g., tinyurl.com).

Responding to the Negative

Though you may have never been the victim of negative online reputation, you have probably seen several cases in which clients, and even friends, have had to endure the unfortunate experience. If you ever do fall victim to an online attack you need to resolve the situation – don’t just sweep it under the rug.

Most people who begin to speak negatively about a company, product and/or service, simply want to be acknowledged. In other words they want resolution. They want to know that they are important to the company they are complaining about. Often times it is much easier to “win them over” by acknowledging their complaint and working to discover a remedy than to ignore them or even worse, fight them.

Even in cases where a negative comment that is then resolved is left online, it goes a long way to show other consumers that – sure the company is not perfect (who is) but they care enough about their customers to make things right. In many cases the customer will reply to their own negative review or comment and express that the problem has been solved and they are happy with the customer service.

There are going to be cases where no matter what you do, there will be those who make it their goal and ambition to destroy your company’s reputation. It such scenarios, a line a defense will be in order. Here are two different strategies:

  1. Pushing Down Negative Results. When negative results begin to show up in Google SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and resolving the issue is next to impossible, you will then have to work to push the negative result down so that at the very least they do not appear on the first page. Due to the fact that the majority of searchers never venture past the first page of results, having a negative listing on the 2nd or even 3rd page is not as bad as having it on the first. Ideally it is best to push negative listings to the 4th page or even further.

This will take a combination of good SEO for your own sites as well as trying to get other sites or web pages to show up ahead of the negative listings. Review this pervious post about “Getting Proactive With Online Reputation Management” which will explain how to go about this.

Additionally you can take the corporate approach and have a suite of web sites, all carrying your brand; doing so can help you dominate the SERPs. American Express is one example. Just look at their portfolio of web sites.

  • AmericanExpress.com
  • AMEX Wikipedia Entry
  • @AmericanExpress (Twitter)
  • MembershipRewards.com
  • AmexTravelResources.com
  • AMEX YouTube
  • OpenForum.com
  • AmericanExpressVacations.com
  • AMEX FourSquare
  • AMEX LinkedIn
  • AmexPub.com
  • AMEX Facebook
  • Facebook/Open
  • Facebook/MembersProject
  • Serve.com
  • AmexNetwork.com
  • AMTTravel.com

Note: Special thanks to Alan Bleiweiss for idea and list.

This strategy is not cheap and there has to be a legitimate purpose for each site. You cannot just launch a handful of domains that have the same content or even worse, thin content, and expect this strategy to work. Each site has to have its own purpose as well as its own unique content.

  1. Legal Action. In cases where the negative listing is slanderous and libel, you might have to take legal action. A nice “cease and desist” from an attorney may do the trick most of the time. Lawyers can really scare people. However, in cases where you are dealing with a fearless consumer, suing them in court may be the only resolve.

Once you understand the power that the today’s consumers have on the Internet, you are far the wiser. Once you begin to select the best tools and methods to monitor your brand’s reputation, as well as devising strategy to deal with cases where your brand gets tarnished, you will be ahead of the competition.

While this post does not serve to be an all-inclusive write-up on the subject, hopefully it will arm you with enough power to at least steer you in the right direction.

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David Wallace
David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses.