Having an online presence is basically a prerequisite in today’s business world. If you want to be a success, you’ll need to be active on the internet. But, it’s not enough to simply have social media accounts or update your blog every once in a while.
It’s becoming increasingly important for businesses and individuals to monitor their online presence to manage their reputation. There are also plenty of other reasons why you would want to monitor your digital footprint.
Why Should You Monitor Your Online Presence?
Obviously, the internet is a great platform to market yourself or your company. But, if you don’t keep an eye on your online presence, you leave yourself open to a lot of negativity. For instance, if your business’s Yelp account only has a few reviews and one of them is scathing, it will not bode well for your company’s future (at least in regard to prospective clients who find out about you via Yelp).
Social media is another venue that is great for marketing but can also open you up to criticism. A seemingly innocuous but negative comment can end up snowballing if you don’t nip it in the bud. Letting your social media accounts grow stale can also indicate to potential clients or employers that you don’t care about your reputation (or their patronage).
At the end of the day, it’s just good to see where you are being mentioned across the internet. Whether those mentions are in news sources or a customer’s Twitter account, it will give you some insight into how you’re viewed and what you can do to improve your reputation. It also allows you to directly engage with customers, employers, or other companies with whom you’d like to do business.
Start with Google Alerts
Perhaps the most important reputation management tool in your arsenal is Google Alerts. You can choose specific keywords and Google will alert you whenever those words appear in virtually any type of content online. So, you can track your name, your business’s name, and anything else (like your competitors’ names) to see how you’re faring. Google Alerts commonly identify information from:
- Review sites (like Yelp)
- News sources
- Social media platforms
With Google Alerts, you can see what people are saying about you across the internet and you can capitalize on it. If the comment about you is good, consider sharing it on your own social media or blog. If it’s bad, you can always engage with whoever wrote it to try to remedy the situation. The best part about Google Alerts is that it is free for anyone to use.
Keep an Eye on Social Media
Again, most social media platforms grant you the ability to engage with a wide range of people. Most major sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are pretty good about letting you know when you are mentioned if someone tags you in a post.
But, you may also miss the moments you or your business are mentioned without an official tag. So, it’s always a good idea to search your name or your company’s name to get a full understanding of everything people are saying about you. You may also want to keep track of hashtags that you have used to see how far they might have reached.
Keeping track of your official social media presence may seem easy, but it’s important to realize that there are more than just a few platforms out there and Google Alerts may not catch everything. There are a few tools that can help you keep your eye on dozens of social media platforms, including:
- Mention – This tool monitors over 1 billion sources each day to keep track of your brand. You can also create reports, study analytics, monitor your competitor’s strategies, and even link your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts to one single platform to ensure that your posts are uniform. Mention produces a wealth of real-time data so that you can see which strategies are working best for you.
- Hootsuite – Although this tool doesn’t exactly search out mentions of you or your brand on social media, it certainly helps consolidate all your social profiles. In fact, with Hootsuite Pro (a $10 per month subscription) you can connect up to 50 social profiles, examine analytics, read and respond to customers’ messages, and identify the general perception of your brand. It’s a great tool for improving your reputation online.
- Reputation Refinery (formerly Trackur) – This reputation management service is where you want to go if your reputation has taken an online hit. They can help clean up Google search results that prominently feature negative news stories, prepare a reputation audit, and provide proactive reputation management services.
Keep Review Sites Under Control
It can be hard to look at critiques of you or your business. Review sites are more prevalent now than ever before, and everyone’s got an opinion. Unfortunately, most people who have a positive experience with you or your company aren’t going to feel as passionate as the few who have a negative one.
Yelp, one of the most popular review sites, allows you to claim your company page, provide accurate and relevant information, and respond to any reviews left on the page (whether they are bad or good). This lets you quell concerns held by anyone with a negative review while also softening the blow you might have experienced had you not been able to respond.
Again, the issue with this is that there are countless review sites beyond Yelp, making it a herculean task to monitor them all by yourself. This is especially true if your business has multiple locations. That’s where online tools come in. There are various online tools that monitor dozens of review sites, provide data, and allow you to respond to customer complaints, including:
- Reputology – integrates with Hootsuite and also lets you monitor industry-specific review sites
- Reputation Ranger – provides review management for individual industries such as bars and restaurants, hospitality and travel, and automotive sales, among others.
- Review Push – allows you to respond to complaints found on dozens of review sites directly from your inbox
- Reputation Health – monitors 23 healthcare-specific review sites for companies in the medical industry
Don’t Forget About Wikipedia
Wikipedia is one of the best reputation management tools, and it’s also one that you might forget about. If you value your reputation, it is important to constantly monitor your Wikipedia page. Anyone can edit Wikipedia, and it’s possible a disgruntled customer could fill your page with negative news stories while discounting anything positive.
The best way to monitor Wikipedia? Simply create an account, add the page in question to your “watchlist,” and set up an email alert. Anytime anyone edits the page, you’ll get an email notification.
There’s no question that monitoring your web presence can help keep your reputation stellar while also averting any potential crises. If you haven’t been monitoring your online presence, then now is the time to start.