The Web. Twitter. Facebook. Biznik. Foursquare. Merchant Circle. Blogs and Comments. If you’re not at least aware of how these websites are already affecting your brand – it’s time to figure out online reputation management, NOW.
Whether or not you intentionally maintain a presence on social media, your business, your brand, your customers, and your potential clients are talking about you. You have two choices; you can ignore it and assume that nothing is happening on the networks because you’re not a part of them, or you can choose to participate and be a part of conversation already taking place.
I have to warn you, though, if you choose the first path–you’re wrong, people are talking about your business. I don’t say that to be mean; it’s just what’s happening. Do yourself a favor and head over to http://www.google.com and enter your business’ name. Take a look at all the places your business is showing up. Do you have a website? Enter that in the search box. See what I mean? I’m willing to bet that there is at least one thing on that search page that you didn’t know had been associated with your business.
OK, now that I have your attention, go to http://www.google.com/alerts enter your business name, put in your email address Google will now send you an email every time it finds something about your business. At least now you’ll know what is happening with your brand when it happens. And knowing is half the battle. I’ll grant you, you can’t control what’s being said, but you are in control of if, and more importantly – how, you respond.
What if you find something…less than glowing? For the most part, whatever is being said is true – from the poster’s perspective. Swallow hard, and find a way to believe that before you do anything. Occasionally (very very occasionally) someone will be malicious for the sake of being malicious, but for the most part – it’s true from their perspective. Remember that. Once you do, it’s time to see if you can make contact with the poster – if possible in the same way they originally posted their comments. Your strategy for this is identical to the manner you would address a customer in your business with a complaint. You’ll apologize, you’ll give them a way to contact you directly and ask for feedback, and you’ll find a way to make it right. Naturally, you don’t want to get into all the gory details on a public forum, but publicly inviting them to contact you to resolve the issue will diffuse any momentum they may have had going on the public forum and show the community that you care enough to be involved. Be human, be authentic, and demonstrate that you care.
If you take these simple steps, you’ll be on your way to good reputation management: creating an attentive and caring brand on the web. And you’ll be in the know about how your Brand is being talked about. After all, shouldn’t your Brand on the internet reflect your Brand in real life?