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Thursday, 26 November 2009

Top 10 Tips: For Online Reputation Management

By Simon Reader, a Digital Marketing consultant at MOOM. Follow @sireader on twitter here.

If you have the budget (and if your brand has enough conversations about it online for you to justify the expense) then an online listening platform like that offered by Radian6 allows you to track every mention of your brand across the social web – and monitor sentiment, detailed demographics and reach.

A good digital marketing agency can also run your Online Reputation Management (ORM) for you, if you feel that it’s too much for you to handle in-house.

However, if you’re only a relatively small consumer brand then it is possible to manage most aspects of your brand’s reputation online yourself and for free - all you need to invest is your time. Here are our top tips to help you do just that:

1. Compile a list of your brand keywords – including common misspellings and abbreviations. It’s worth bearing in mind that people do often shorten brand names when communicating via the social web, especially as sites like Twitter only allow a specific number of characters in each update.

2. Set-up a Google alert for your keywords – this service doesn’t capture everything but it’s a good start. Basically, whenever your chosen term is mentioned on a webpage, Google will send you a quick email to let you know.

3. Search Boardreader.com every day for your keywords – this website will search every forum out there for mentions of you and will provide a direct link to the thread where you are mentioned.

4. Use Google Blog Search – this is similar to the above but searches across blogs as opposed to forums.

5. Make the most of Twitter Search – as well as using Twitter to update your followers, there is a powerful live search engine there too, so search via the website at http://www.twitter.com/ or download Tweetdeck for free and add a search for each keyword – as long as you have the Tweetdeck application open you’ll receive an on-screen notification (and a beep) every time there is a new mention of one of your search terms.

Remember, this search feature is in real-time – so you can resolve any issues almost instantaneously. How’s that for quick customer service?!

6. Get involved! When something is said about your brand, don’t be shy – leave a reply! If it’s a compliment, a simple ‘thanks for your comments!’ will suffice – if it’s something that needs looking into then it’s best to post a quick reply to confirm that you’re looking into, to make it clear to anybody who visits the page in the meantime that you’re aware of the situation.

You don’t need to reply to every single positive or neutral remark though – after all, you don’t want to seem too big-brotherish to your customers!

7. Never Astroturf! This means that you should never respond to a forum thread, blog post or webpage with a comment that suggests that you’re not connected with the business that you’re talking about. When you do respond to something, always be open about who you are and which company you are from.

8. Be professional! It’s easy to slip into being more casual if you’re commenting on something on a social networking site (for example, you’re probably not used to being in ‘work-mode’ on Facebook) however you must remember that anything that you post will usually be visible to everybody - and furthermore will probably remain on the site for a long time.

9. Listen and learn – by engaging with your customers online you may be able to get feedback on things that otherwise would be unknown to you. That way, as well as resolving problems through social media channels you can also use them as a method of collecting free, live market research.

It’s also worth keeping a track of who you to talk to and what you say – for example, perhaps you have a customer database that allows you to enter notes against a customer’s record.

10. And finally, please remember that you’ve got to do these things at regular intervals! Depending on the volume of conversations surrounding your brand, you may only need to set aside fifteen minutes each day to perform the above tasks – a small price to pay for digital peace of mind.

MOOM specialise in online reputation management, viral marketing and social media engagement campaigns for businesses of all sizes.

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