Your clients talk. They talk about all kinds of things. They talk about their business. They talk about their likes and dislikes. And sometimes, they talk about you and the work you did for them.
Word-of-mouth can be a powerful marketing force if it’s positive. Unfortunately, sometimes word-of-mouth is less than helpful. Sometimes information about your design business that is incorrect or misleading gets spread around.
The Internet has transformed word-of-mouth into a major force that can reach around the globe. Clients from halfway around the world can post comments and share information that influences clients right in your own town.
What are your clients and prospects saying about your design business? It could be important to know. Online reputation management is one way to manage and monitor what is said about your design business brand. In this post, I’ll share seven tips for monitoring your online reputation. I’ll also share seven tools to help you monitor your online reputation.
7 Tips for Monitoring Your Online Reputation
It’s important to know what information is being said about you online. Sadly, many businesses don’t find out about negative comments until it’s too late. Your design business doesn’t have to be one of them. You can take steps to monitor and manage your online business reputation.
Here are seven reputation management tips:
- Set up alerts. There are a number of tools that will notify you if your business name is mentioned online. It’s a good idea to make use of one or several of these tools. Make sure your alert is thorough enough. It should include your business name, your name, and the name of any products that you have.
- Be reachable. Often people leave a negative comment (or review) because they are frustrated and feel that they can’t get help for a problem they are having. If you can keep that frustration from occurring in the first place, you have a lot fewer complaints. Make good customer service a priority.
- Respond promptly and appropriately. If you do happen to notice a negative comment, respond quickly and appropriately (preferably privately). For example, if a client tweets or posts that they are having a problem, instead of being defensive ask how you can help.
- Don’t overreact. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to respond to a complaint or negative comment in anger. Another mistake is to try to retaliate against the person who posted the complaint. Flame wars do nothing to help the problem and tend to draw attention to the negativity.
- Build a positive online presence. Blogging, press releases, positive testimonials and case studies all serve to bolster your online reputation. With a positive online presence, even if there are a few negative comments out there they won’t be the only thing that a prospect finds out about you.
- Watch yourself. Many companies are their own worst enemy. They engage in behavior that could potentially embarrass their business or they share inappropriate materials online. Reports of this sort of behavior often get passed around and can be hard to get rid of.
- Get Help. In extreme cases, especially when defamation, slander, or malicious intent is involved, you may need to get help from a professional. An attorney can help you if you need to take legal action.
Many of these steps can be taken even before any problems occur. So, don’t wait until there’s a problem to start managing your online reputation.
7 Reputation Management Tools
It’s easier than ever to find out what others are saying about you online. In alphabetical order, here are seven tools (some free, some not) to help you monitor your online reputation:
- Alerts (Google and Yahoo). Both Google and Yahoo let you set up an alert that will notify you when certain phrases are published online. You’ll receive an email when the phrase is used. This is a free service from the search engines.
- Buzz Bundle. This tool combines social media management and reputation management. You can track your own social media mentions and even monitor competitor information. There are three editions available including a free edition. A free trial is also available.
- SocialMention. This helpful free tool lets you search social media for your name, business name, or any other phrase. You’ll find discussions as they happen. Use the advanced search for more accurate results.
- SproutSocial. Here is another tool that lets you monitor and analyze what is being said about you online and who is saying it. There are three levels available and a free trial. One nice feature is that training is included at all paying levels.
- Technorati . This free tool tracks and ranks blogs and posts. It can also find posts that link to your blog. If you have a blog, it’s a good idea to claim it on Technorati and check to see what sites are linking to it.
- Trackur. Founded by a well-known reputation management expert, this is a premium social media monitoring tool with four levels of service. Find out what is being said and who is saying it. This tool is specific to the Twitter social medium platform. It monitors Twitter and notifies you quickly if your name, product, or company is mentioned. There are four price options including a free version.
This is just a sampling of some of the tools that are out there. There are other tools and even specialists that can help you do much more.
Learn More About Reputation Management
There’s more information available about you online than most of us realize. That’s one reason why it’s important to monitor and manage your online reputation. Even small business and solo professionals need to be careful.
Here are three posts that can help you learn more:
- 10 Questions to Ask When Managing Your Company’s Online Reputation from Kim Lachance Shandrow writing on Entrepreneur. This list of ten questions can serve as a checklist. Ask yourself these questions and you’re on the way to doing a better job of managing your reputation.
- 6 Steps To Managing Your Online Reputation from Susan Adams writing on Forbes. This article lists six simple things that almost anyone can do to protect their online reputation.
- 10 Online Reputation Management Tips for Businesses from James A. Martin writing on CIO. Even though this article is geared to large companies, there is some good advice here for designers and other small business owners.
Do you monitor your online reputation? How do you go about doing it?
Share your tips and any tools you use in the comments.