7 Tools for Managing Your Business's Online Reputation
Do you know how your brand is perceived in the digital world? You should. Like it or not, your online reputation — fueled by what consumers choose to share with one another about your company — can make or break your business.
In fact, blogs now rank as the third-most influential online resource for consumers making purchase decisions, behind retail and brand websites, according to Technorati Media's 2013 Digital Influence Report.
Social media networks are becoming increasingly important, too: "Consumers said keeping up with a company's activities and learning about products and services were the top reasons for following brands on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram," the report notes. Perhaps as a result, six out of 10 brand managers anticipate a 40 percent increase in spending on social media campaigns this year.
In other words, establishing an online presence and implementing an effective reputation-management strategy is vital to your business’s overall success.
Here are seven ways to monitor mentions of your brand online in the news media, blog posts, social media updates and comments, and customer-review sites.
1. Create Google Alerts. Receive email alerts whenever your brand gets mentioned on the web. Simply set up alerts based on keywords that are relevant to your product, service, and/or company. (Google also offers this guide to managing your online reputation.)
3. Adopt branded hashtags. Whether you're tracking social mentions on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, creating a branded hashtag can help your brand to stand out and help you track mentions. Use these branded hashtags in your social media user profiles and blog posts, too, so that readers can more easily mention you when they share your posts.
4. Set up a Better Business Bureau profile. Consumers look to the BBB for credibility (and honest reviews of companies they are considering doing business with), so having a presence there will allow you to see coverage of your business, dispute negative or inaccurate comments, and build trust with potential and existing customers.
5. Monitor and moderate comments on forums, review sites, and online marketplaces. Consumers often visit sites like Yelp, Amazon and eBay to learn about the experience with a brand from their peers. It's wise to monitor and respond to comments about your company aggressively to ensure that visitors get accurate information. Sites such as Review Trackers and Reputation.com allow you to track all of your online reviews via a dashboard.
6. Employ a community manager or help desk system to support customer feedback and complaints systematically. This will establish a method of addressing issues with your product or service head on, and prevent unanswered and delayed concerns. Community managers are considered the face of your company on social media, interacting with your customers and solving issues firsthand or directing them to help. Similarly, a help desk system can manage your tech support, where customers can report issues with your product or service and a representative can address fixes in an organized manner.
7. Monitor your competitors. Checking out your competition's online activity — and noting successes and failures — can help you refine your own approach. Understanding how consumers interact with other brands in your niche will give you insight into how you can boost your online reputation and fill in the gaps where others are lacking.
Christina Jones is a business writer for Intuit who is passionate about solving small business problems.