Imagine somebody distributes wrong information about you, your business and / or your products and you don’t know about it. But you will feel the consequences, dropping traffic, hostile comments and even diminishing sales / income.
Imagine somebody praises you, your business and / or your products and you don’t know about. You will miss the opportunity to build on the momentum and take advantage of it. Not as bad as scenario one, but still not good ;-(
To avoid these scenarios happening, you can either cruise ceaselessly the internet and watching out on the usual spots (forums / review sites / related blogs) or you can automate the process and make sure you know asap if something is happening that concerns your online reputation.
After Andrew Ng’s great guest post about bloggers that create / are an online brand, I thought I follow it up with some tips on how to keep an eye on your online reputation.
Why is that so important? If you are creating a brand, you want to give this brand a positive image. This is your online reputation and you should try to take good care of it. Everything that influences / changes your online reputation will automatically influence also your brand. For example when people write about you, your blog and / or your products, you want to know about it asap. Either to thank them for their kind words and build on the created momentum or to provide additional information to counteract a misconception of you and / or your products (if possible).
You even might need to do some serious damage control when things do really go belly-up, by trying to get your positive material ranking higher in the SERP then the negative material others might publish.
An easy, automated method to do this is by setting up Google Alerts to monitor the internet for instances that mention your brand. Google Alerts are a great way to monitor your online reputation.
I show you how to do this in a few simple steps:
First of all you need a Gmail account. If you don’t have one, you can get one here for free: Gmail Account. I don’t think you need anymore an invite to join, but in case that you still do, just drop me a note in a comment and I send you one 😉
Second, after you have set-up and logged into your gmail account go to Google Alerts and create your first alert. Here a overview about what all these terms you can choose from mean:
Search terms: The term you want to monitor, for example your name, your brand, your company etc.
Types: The type of occurrences of the search term you want to monitor. Unless you want to narrow down the search to a specific source like “video” or “blog” you should choose “comprehensive” as it will give you the most results.
How often: It means how often Google is searching for your specified term and sends an alert to you, I normally choose once a day or as-it-happens, depending on the urgency.
“Deliver to”, you can choose to have your alerts either delivered to your gmail address or to your Google feed.
That’s it, next time somebody is mentioning your brand on the www, you get an email / see it in your feed reader. In case you want to change some settings or add more alerts, just go to Manage Google Alerts.
So now that you are receiving the first notifications about your online brand, what do you do with this information?
1.Calm down, yes, it is exciting to see your name / brand mentioned for the first time on the internet, but don’t get overly excited right now 😉
2.Evaluate the situation. Is there anything you should do? And what can you do? Imagine somebody posted a positive comment regarding an ebook you wrote on a forum. You could register at that forum and post a reply, thanking them and stressing the fact that you are always happy to answer future questions that may arise. More people might then purchase your ebook as they see that you care about your readers.
3.Sooner or later you will face the situation that somebody writes something negative about you / your brand on the internet. The most important thing is again to calm down AND to check if they are right. Yes, they may exaggerate, but is there anything true in their comment? If so, address the concern / complain politely and offer a solution / compensation. You could not only win a customer / reader back, you also will increase your online reputation and win more people over to your cause.
4.What never to do: Never resort to name calling, foul language or anything else that shows you have lost your temper. To use an old bulletin board saying “Don’t feed the trolls.” in terms of managing your online reputation that means, sometimes it is just better to walk away and ignore things than to get caught up in an online battle about who is right and who is wrong.
5.Counteracting the damage. If you see that somebody publishes negative material about you and / or your brand, sometimes it is better to just write your own version about the happenings on your own site / blog or on a friendly authority site and work on it so that it shows up higher in the SERPs than the negative material.
6.Legal action should always be the last resort, it is expensive and will bind your resources for quite some time. Results may take a lot of time and will not always be what you expected. So wait before you fire out your next cease and decease letter / email.
Summary: Monitoring your online reputation and the online reputation of your brand is easy with Google Alerts. The real art is how to react to positive or negative comments. Remember, never post / write / email whilst you are still angry and “Never feed the trolls!”
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