Even though you can’t physically hear the chatter, people are talking about your business in a way that the whole world can hear.
The internet gives a new meaning to reputation management now that millions of users can find information, reviews and opinions about your company online. With some smart tools, you can monitor your company’s online reputation – and help protect it – by knowing where people are talking about you.
Places Where People Are Talking about Your Business
1. Personal social networking sites. With the ability to check in, link a comment to your company’s social media account and practice freedom of speech, users can tell their whole social network what they love or loathe about a business.
2. Professional networking sites. Such sites allow you to create a professional profile and tell the world about your business. Those who are connected to your network can post reviews about you or your enterprise.
3. Business review sites. Sites like Yelp, Google Places, Yellow Pages and others allow registered users to write reviews about their experiences with your business. If you have a physical location, users can “check in” to let their followers know where they are as well as leave a quick tip about your business.
4. Job and resume sites. Such websites let registered users to write testimonials about their experiences as an employee at a business, which can give others insight into how things work behind the scenes.
5. Real-time information networks. Twitter and other sites that allow users to write short bursts of information also help them connect with businesses. This permits you as an entrepreneur to gather market intelligence and feedback in real time; build relationships with actual and potential customers; and connect with industry influencers.
6. School- and reunion-related sites. When old friends reunite, they often ask about each other’s professional lives in order to find common ground. These reunion-oriented sites allow people to do so virtually.
7. Corporate sites. Your business may be the latest scoop for sites like FastCompany, BusinessWeek and Crunchbase. If your business does something newsworthy (good or bad), it can end up as a story.
8. Virtual pin boards and photo-sharing sites. The popularity of sites like Pinterest, Springpad and Tumblr give others a glimpse of your business via an image from your site or a user-submitted photo.
9. Industry blogs. Like corporate websites, industry blogs report about up-and-coming businesses and teachable moments. If your business does something noteworthy, it may receive a mention.
10. Your blog. If your company’s blog has a strong following, readers will add comments to your posts. With the integration of sharing buttons, your site’s followers can share your content within their own networks.
(PS: Comment and tell us which one(s) we left out.)
Monitoring Your Online Reputation
It’s impossible to control what others say about your business on the internet.
What you can control are the actions you take after you listen in on the chatter.
Perform an internet search of your company’s name to see what pops up in the search engine – this is what your customers see when they look you up.
To know when someone mentions your business, you can create an internet search alert (with Google or Yahoo) or make a custom feed that automatically notifies you when your company’s name or other keywords are mentioned.
Managing Your Reputation
Managing conversations about your business can be tricky.
First, claim your business on local search sites and review sites so you have more control over your listings.
Then review the comments about your business without taking the feedback personally.
Respond to complaints with polite private messages that request more information so you can work on making positive changes.
Then use the various social networks and their tools to promote your good name.
People all over the world are talking about your business. Do you know what they’re saying?
Over to you
Where else are people talking about your business? Leave a comment and let us know what we left out!