Last year the number of consumers diving into online reviews before making a purchasing decision grew exponentially. Many even said that they would give the same weight to review on the web as they would a personal recommendation from a friend. That being true, it is now more important than ever for organizations to understand why online management is important and know how to manage their online reputations.

What is an online reputation?

An online reputation simply put describes the overall sentiment of your brand from outside followers and patrons. Choose to disregard less than favorable feedback and risk driving business away that could have easily been persuaded to stay. Think of it this way, Reputation specialist CEO Walter Halicki said, “The Internet landscape is like a garden. If you have a nice flower, that’s all good and well, but if weeds surround it, your garden is going to look bad. We pull out the weeds.”

Three reasons why online management is important

  • People are talking; do you know what they are saying?

The internet has become Mecca for consumers to air their grievence and agendas. It’s a space where anyone can talk and everyone will listen. What are people saying about your brand? Are they satisfied? Would they recommend your product or service to others? Step out of the realm of what you hope your buyers believe about your brand and start doing some research about how they actually feel.

  • Identify influencers

Monitoring your online reputation does more than just help you listen. It also helps you identify influencers within the community. Is there a user that posts often about your product, is spurring discussion, or posting as an expert in that field? If so, capitalize on their passion. Consider making them a brand ambassador, including them in focus groups, or having a periodic download about Internet activity and customer sentiments.

  • Strengthen your SEO rankings

Unfortunately, search engines can’t distinguish favorable content versus negative reviews. That means that negatives reviews won’t ever disappear and, since search engine algorithms crawl based on recent activity they will remain in the first page of search results unless you can create content that will eventually outrank negative feedback. Larry Levenson via The Social Media Examiner reports 75% of Internet users won’t scroll past the first page to find what they need. So consider how you can use social media, press releases, blogs, and company profiles to create positive real estate, too.

Wondering how to manage all of this?

Managing this type of online activity doesn’t have to be overwhelming and, no, you don’t have to hire a Director of Listening. Justin Fishaw, a Director of Content Marketing and Social Media, contributed a post to the digitalsherpa.com on May 13, 2013 outlining five free online management tools organization can utilize to help you screen the chatter.      

  • Google Alerts: This tool is incredibly easy to use, and all you need to do is visit google.com/alerts to complete the search query and mention how you would like for your results to be delivered to you. You can also specify what type of media you would like for these results to be pulled from (blogs, news, etc). Every time your brand is mentioned, you will receive an alert.
  • TweetBeep: This is basically the Google Alerts for Twitter. The free version will alert you every hour with any mentions of your brand, and the premium paid version provides updates every 15 minutes. The price for the upgraded version is $20 per month.
  • Social Mention: This tool scans an enormous amount of data for mentions of your brand and categorizes each one as positive, negative, or neutral. On the downside, because this tool pulls from so much data, some of the results are inaccurate or irrelevant. This tool is ideal for a brand that has a unique name that is not likely to be replicated elsewhere on the Web.
  • Kurrently: While this tool will not automatically push alerts out to you like some of the other online reputation management tools, it serves as a search engine to provide you with results of mentions of your brand on the Internet. The results are updated and relevant, making this a useful tool.
  • MonitorThis: This unique tool allows you to monitor mentions of your brand on 20 different search engines. By setting up your brand with this tool, a file will be imported to your feed reader to keep you constantly in the loop of any mentions.

With social media monitoring tools, your business can plan an active and effective role in managing its online reputation.For more information and to speak to an industry expert about developing a plan for your business, contact us