It doesn’t matter how many employees or customers you have, or whether you’re headquartered in Dubuque, Dublin, or Dallas. From effusive praise to outright libel, people are talking. Employees are sharing notes on your corporate culture, problems with superiors, dialogues with customers, and issues with your company policies. Customers and the general public are discussing their perceptions of your brands, your employees, your products, and service.
Online reputation management is mission critical for all organizations. The better you monitor nearly all social media chatter about your company online, the better you will know your company’s strengths and weaknesses, and the better equipped you will be to change negative perceptions before they become reality. Monitoring is a full-time job for at least one person. Here’s a quick-start guide to some of the basics:
- Follow the voices.
If all of this listening in sounds paranoid, like something enjoyable to a stalker, the feeling will subside once you get started. Conduct search engine queries on every possible word and phrase that can think of about your organization, competitors, leaders, customers, products, services, industry, hot topics and more, and learn who is writing about them with regularity. You can use Scoop.it, a content curation service, to have a variety of searches automated and delivered to your email on a regular schedule.
- See everything they say through an RSS feed.
Subscribe to an RSS feed to peruse content that includes these names (or is directly authored). RSS automates the process of viewing news feeds, forums, blogs, and countless other forms of online content, and it makes the information easy to scan.
- Set up news alerts using key search terms and names.
Sign up for a free news alert service to receive e-mail notifications when news breaks about your company. Online news outlets like Google News or Yahoo News will let you set up an email alert, or use customizable widgets on your start page that track words and phrases of interest. Just key in the search terms you would like to be alerted about, but be careful not to make the terms too broad or you’ll end up with hundreds of alerts each day.
- Monitor activity on Twitter.
Twitter drives people to online content, and is used heavily by journalists and bloggers. Review all of the writers’ sites from Step 1 to find their Twitter IDs and follow them using a designated Twitter account. If you have hundreds of voices to follow, you can organize sets of tweets using monitoring tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite. You can also use Twitter’s own search function.
Once you’re up and running with these steps, the next objective is to respond in real time to the information you read. Answer questions, resolve complaints, prevent the spread of misinformation, and be an ambassador for your company’s reputation online.