Every day millions of people are talking online through blogs, social networks, and news outlets. If you own a business, it would be wise to start paying attention to what they’re saying. All it takes is one negative blog post, forum message, or news feed and your company’s reputation, or your personal reputation, could be damaged to the point of no return. Monitoring your online reputation is just as necessary as monitoring any other aspect of your business. Here’s how to manage your identity in two simple steps.
The first step you should take is to set up a monitoring system. Luckily there are hundreds of services, paid and free, that allow you to manage your online identity. The best defense is to subscribe to multiple services that monitor a wide range of online activity.
Google Blog Search, Technorati, and Bloglines are great sites for tracking your online identity across major blogs. BlogPulse and Omgili go a step further by generating handy graphs that measure the popularity of your company or brand against your competitors based on the number of blogs pinging your name.
BoardReader lets you search by posts and topics to find out what people are saying about you on forums and discussion boards. Other sites to help you monitor message boards and forums are ForumFind and BoardTracker.
MonitorThis lets you monitor a single keyword across 20 different search engine feeds at the same time.
The following sites monitor for everything:
- StartPR: Monitor your brand and track your reputation on social networks and more than 100 million blogs worldwide.
- WhosTalkin: Search across blogs, major news sites, social media sites, and more.
- Brand Titan: Find out who’s talking about you, your brand, your company, or your products on Web sites, in videos, in the news, and on blogs and social networks.
The second step you should take is to address it if you discover negative information about your company online. If the information is true, post a comment on the same site or on your own Web site that tells your side of the story and how you are working to rectify the problem. If it is false, ask the blog, forum, or news site to take down the post and then seek a lawyer’s help if necessary.
For more desperate measures, use Web sites such as ReputationDefender and RemoveYourName.com to protect your name. ReputationDefender will help you remove inaccurate, inappropriate, hurtful, and libelous information about you anywhere it finds it for a one-time fee of $29.95. RemoveYourName.com is considerably pricier (starting at $2,995 for a basic business package), but it offers a money-back guarantee if your name is not removed from major search engines.
Whether you want to simply monitor the online chatter surrounding your name or you want to destroy all negative material posted about your business online, managing your online reputation is up to you. Take control of your identity and protect your good name by implementing an identity management system before it’s too late.