02 Apr Where to start with your online reputation management
When I was a teenager, local folklore told of a teenage boy in the 1960s climbing the water tower to clean his sister’s name off after a boy shamed her by writing it there. When we would wait for a table at a restaurant and noticed names of people scratched into the tables or walls, my mother would say “Fools’ names like fools’ faces often show up in public places”.
Today’s reputation killers don’t have to climb a water tower or even take a Sharpie into a bathroom stall. Instead, they just log onto their smartphones, tablets or computers and write anything they want to write about you or your business. Often we don’t even know it’s there until someone tells us.
In addition to all the places you DON’T want your name to be, online reputation management means making sure your name shows in the right places, so your customers can find you.
One of the absolute best ways to stay on top of your online reputation is through Google Alerts. Set up alerts so that you receive an e-mail anytime specific words are mentioned across the web. (If you need a little help with how to set Google alerts, just click the link above, put in your search term and choose your options which can include language, location, sources and frequency.)
We have alerts set up for the specific names of our employees and the business owners and managers of our clients’ companies as well as our own company’s name and our clients’ company names. We set up alerts on individuals because what people say about the people who work for you is just as important as what they say about your company.
When you see a post about your company or an employee, you have several options as to how to handle it. If it’s false, you can request the information be deleted. If it’s a complaint over something that actually happened, you have a chance to make the situation right and repair a customer’s opinion of your company. If it’s a personal matter involving a staff member, you may need to have a hard conversation.
Several years ago, one of our clients had a disgruntled employee who shared a trade secret on a public message board. We were able to get the company running the board to remove the post, but then the company had to deal with the rogue ex-employee. If you find false information or trade secrets where they shouldn’t be, research the website where the messages appear and go through their channels to have information removed. If you are unsuccessful, it may be time to consult your company’s attorney.
We don’t advocate removing negative posts just because they are negative. (Read more about our theory on that.) Whether you need to have the post removed or you need to find a way to remedy a situation, knowing the problem exists is the first step to fixing it.
The downfall of Google Alerts is it doesn’t catch all those social media posts that may crop up when a customer (or friend or ex-friend) gets mad at you. Using the Facebook search tool you can search for your company’s name, your name, your staff’s names and other relevant terms. This only works, however, if you are either friends with the person or they don’t have their privacy settings set.
Searching through Twitter is a little easier. Enter your search term into the search bar. At the top of the results page scroll over to “More Options” and then choose “Save Search”.
We always recommend a good old fashioned Google search of yourself and your company. Even if you have alerts and everything else set, a Google search gives you an opportunity to see what pulls up when some searches for your company name, your name or your industry’s key terms.
Hundreds (if not thousands) of listing sites are available for your company’s name to be listed some for free and some for a fee. Many companies, including two of big yellow book providers and often website companies, offer “reputation management” tools to update your listings across multiple sites all at one time. The big key here is choosing how you want your name to appear and stick with one version.
For example, your company might have it’s name listed differently in each directory like this:
Momentum Consulting, Inc
Momentum Advertising and Marketing Consulting
Momentum Consulting Agency
Choose one version and update all the major directories to follow it. Double check with those paid directories, trade publications, etc and make sure they have the correct listing. This really makes a difference when people search for you. While your reader may know it’s all the same, the search engine may not.
While you are looking at these directories, claim your listing and make sure your address, contact information, and website are up to date. Choose a few pictures to add to each listing. The major listing sites will also send you updates when you receive a review.
Some to consider include:
If you have multiple locations, you’ll need a listing for each location to ensure people can find the location closest to them. We all know service isn’t the same at every location, and you’ll want to give your customers the opportunity to leave the most accurate review possible.
Now you’re wishing managing your reputation was as easy as climbing the water tower to paint over your sister’s name without getting arrested, right?