The Importance of Online Reputation Monitoring
Long before any company can apply itself to the important work of defending its online reputation, it must first know what its online reputation actually is. This is a fancy way of saying that online reputation management begins with online reputation monitoring. Knowing what people are saying about your brand, on the Web, is a key endeavor for companies of all kinds and all sizes.
And rest assured that people are saying something about you on the Web; there is no such thing as a neutral online reputation. The best-case scenario is that your online reputation consists of positive reviews, enthusiastic social media mentions, laudatory blog entries, and, of course, your own company website, poised for maximum search engine visibility. The alternative scenario is that your online reputation is plagued by defamatory reviews, negative news stories, BBB complaints, and malicious attacks from your competitors.
The difference, of course, is the difference between ongoing success and utter ruin — but how can any company work to develop its understanding of its own online reputation?
Starting with the Basics
The most common implements of reputation monitoring are Google Alerts and Bing Alerts; you can use either tool to receive regular updates whenever new search engine listings are published, making use of the desired search term — that is, your company name or other branded terms. These tools are foundational, and not without reason: They are great resources, and crucial for any business that is serious about monitoring its online reputation.
With that said, it is critical to be aware of the ways in which these Alerts are limited. It might surprise you to learn that there are entire corners of the Web that Google and Bing do not index — and, therefore, they are corners of the Web that do not register in these Alerts. These corners of the so-called “Deep Web” include social media conversations, as well as some online review sites. (It is also worth noting that there is not perfect overlap between the coverage areas of Google and Bing, so you really do need both of these Alerts systems if you wish to be comprehensive.)
None of this is meant to disparage the very fine tools offered by Google and Bing; it is meant only to note that it may prove necessary to augment these tools with a few additional reputation monitoring tools.
Additional Tools for Online Reputation Monitoring
We might begin with some of the most popular tools for online reputation management — such as Klout and FollowerWonk. Though often referred to as reputation monitoring tools, it is important to note that they do not offer reputational threat alerts, which is what most companies really need. That is to say, these tools seek to gauge how influential your social media profiles are on the Web; they do not actually tell you whether your company is attracting positive comments or negative ones, which is really what most businesses need.
There are some useful tools to help fill in the gaps, though — starting with SocialMention. This is essentially an online search engine that allows users to search for mentions of selected terms in social media conversations, on blogs, and so forth. The tool is not necessarily perfect or comprehensive, but it is close enough that it is a good addition to any online reputation monitoring toolset. What’s more, it offers “alerts,” similar to Google Alerts and Bing Alerts, which makes it convenient.
ReviewTracker is another essential tool, one that does exactly what it says it does. By using ReviewTracker, companies can keep abreast of all of their latest reviews, on sites like Yelp, OpenTable, and Foursquare. Given how influential online reviews have become, in terms of consumer behavior and purchasing decisions, online review monitoring is truly vital.
One quick note we might offer is that ReviewTracker is a paid service, which means that some smaller companies may balk at using it. If that’s the boat you’re in, note that you can simply monitor your online reviews manually, heading to your online review profiles at least once a day. Diligence is critical, however — should a negative online review appear, you will want to know about it as soon as possible.
The Importance of Online Reputation Monitoring
Why is online reputation monitoring so important? It is important because, when a negative online listing appears, you need to know about it and to respond to it as quickly as you can; and, when a positive piece of content appears, it is wise to harness it and promote it. The bottom line is that your company needs to know where its online reputation stands — which is why ReputationChanger.com reviews all of the latest and most essential resources for reputation monitoring.
Mike Zammuto leads a team of experts providing personal reputation management services at www.reputationchanger.com. Prior to joining Reputation Changer, he was the COO of ChaCha. Earlier in his career, he worked on .NET 3.0 at Microsoft.