Are you monitoring your online reputation? What about the online reputation of your company? Its key products and services? Leaders know that perception is critical and that reputation is fundamental to business success. Are you taking the steps to make sure you understand your reputation online? This is different than your web site strategy or a social media strategy. It’s about having the tools in place to monitor the results of these efforts and more. Your company and its products may be talked about in a wide variety of online spaces including blogs and forums and all manner of social media. In this day and age everyone has an online reputation whether they want one or not. Even if you are purposefully staying away from social media like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and the last search listing for you on Google is the time you ran your local 5K Turkey Trot race in 1999, you still have a reputation. (In this case, the reputation would be that you are “behind the times,” and “not with it” which is not usually a good leadership position.) When the subject of online reputations comes up there can be a wide variety of responses:
“I know recruiters and HR departments now regularly do online searches about job applicants, but I own my own business.” Yes, and you and your business are searchable as well. Potential customers will look at more than your web site to find out everything they can about you.
“My business is fairly small and it’s just me,” or “it’s just me and a small staff so there’s nothing to worry about.” Maybe, but if you are so small that you aren’t creating enough of an internet or online presence, see paragraph one of this post again. You have the challenge of putting a stake in the ground and building an online reputation.
“Social Media is just a fad for 20-somethings.” All we can say is please take a couple of minutes to watch this video.
One of Ad Age’s top 150 bloggers, Jim Connolly, just wrote a great blog post called, “Your Online Reputation EXPOSED!” that explains how long the trail is of our “digital foot print.” He makes some very good points about how long items posted on the internet last and this is one of the keys to starting to understand our online reputations.
The Social Media Examiner also just posted a great blog post on monitoring the social media part of your online reputation. Click here to check it out.
Perhaps the best book out for really understanding the idea of an online reputation and how to manage it is called, “Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online,” by Andy Beal and Dr. Judy Strauss. It explains at length the details of personal, professional and product online reputation management from a conceptual standpoint and also provides practical steps on how to do it.
In the meantime, here are some initial steps to put into place:
- Put a process in place and designate someone to manage it. You may not have time to keep an eye on all of this, and if so, you need someone to do it for you. If you have administrative help they can start watching, or if you have a Marketing person or Social Media Manager they can be in charge. Even if you do this, you need to be in the loop so part of the process is regular reports from this person/these people.
- Create Google Alerts. This is a great service from Google and we recommend creating alerts for your name, your company’s name and any key products or services you want to monitor. To do this, just go to Google, click the “more” pull down menu from the navigation bar at the top left, click “even more” at the bottom of the pull down, click “alerts” and follow the instructions. One KEY for Google Alerts – make sure you put quote marks around the words you want to monitor. For example, if your name is John Smith and you create an alert for John Smith without quotes you will get alerts for every John, every Smith, and every John Smith on the internet, so you can imagine what will happen. Adding quotes will make sure search results only come back for the words you select in combination.
- Do regular searches on key search engines like Google, bing and Yahoo for your name, your company name, and the names of key products and services and keep an eye on what’s happening out there.
There is no way to cover all aspects of this topic in a blog post, but we do encourage you to start thinking about this topic and figuring out ways to effectively manage your online reputation.