Tools to manage your brand online
"Keeping tabs on what people are saying about you online is very important." Ramon Ray is the editor behind Smallbiztechnology.com and is a paid contributor for Wells Fargo.
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Business owners face a lot of challenges every single day — managing cash flow, hiring employees, thinking about how they’re going to expand, thinking about their marketing, all kind of things. One of those things that get lost in the shuffle is often managing their online reputation.
Keeping tabs on what people are saying about you, your customers, your employees, your competitors is very, very important. In this day and age, especially with social media, these people are saying a lot of things about you. They’re going on Yelp, they’re going on Facebook, they’re going on Google, they’re going on Twitter, they’re going on LinkedIn, they’re going on all sorts of sources that are online to find that information about you, and to say things about you — of course, search engines, as well.
What you need to do is create listening stations to find out what people are saying so that you know about it as soon as it’s posted online. Listening stations are so important, because I think it’s one of the bedrock foundations of managing your online reputations. Listening stations mean that when someone does a blog post about you, you know about it; when someone tweets about you, you know about it; when someone posts something about you on Facebook, you know about it.
So, how you create listening stations is using a few technology tools. One, is Google has a very simple tool called News Alerts, or just Alerts. And this tool is that any time something is posted about you online — pretty much anything about [you] online — Google will email you and let you know about it. That’s one of the simplest alerts, or one of the simplest listening stations you can put up.
Social media dashboards are another interesting — not so much a technology, but an interesting way to look at social media. Many of us go to Twitter.com, Facebook.com, LinkedIn.com, Google Plus, many — these various social media sites, directly. But what some of the professionals do, and what I consider — what I would consider that you do for your business is to create social media dashboards.
What these are, are going to services like TweetDeck or HootSuite, and a few other type of tools that you can use — and what these are, in one stream, you can create kind of columns of information that will help track what’s going on in your social network.
Checking local directory listings is another very important tool — a very important action, I would say, that all small business owners to do. In this day and age, the Internet enables us to kind of be global, be national, be international, but to think small and local.
So, there’s a lot of search engines that specialize in local communities that you need to see, one, are you there? And guess what? You may not even put yourself in one of those directories. They could have automatically added you to that directory, so keep that in mind.
Some of the local directories you want to check out are Google’s local pages. Think about Yelp’s local pages. What about something like Manta? What about Local.com? These are all — and there are so many more — various search engines that specialize in local businesses.
You want to check and — one, as I said, see if you’re listed, and if you are listed, make sure your listing is listed correctly: What time do you open? What time do you close? What is your address? Do you have some photos posted up? And going back to the topic of managing your online reputation — what are people saying about you in these local directories? If there’s a bad comment, respond to it. If it’s a great comment, clap your hands, and respond to it and say thanks.
So, I hope these tools help you manage your online reputation. All these tools are not going to do everything possible to ensure that no one can say something bad about you — of course not. But if you use one or more of these tools, surely you’ll know what someone says about you, whether it’s good or bad, enabling you to properly respond to it.
That way, when the next person is looking for you on the Internet, they’re going to see what the comment was that somebody said about you — again, whether it’s good or bad — and they’re going to see your response. And more importantly, as they’re searching online, if you’re adding great content online, all in this area of managing your online reputation, they’re going to see more and more great things about your business, and hopefully buy from you.