Monday, March 10, 2008
It took almost three months for a Mumbai-based interior decorator, to figure out why her clients were suddenly disappearing. “When clients started pulling out projects suddenly without any explanation, I just couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong,” says she. It was only when a friend who was an avid blogger told her about these posting on interior decorator blogs which ranted about her shoddy overpriced work and rude irresponsible behaviour, that she figured out what triggered off the disappearing clients.
“Unfortunately, on the internet anyone can write anything, no matter if it’s true or not. I sure had to pay a huge price for it,” she said. Fortunately for her, She was able to undo the damage by getting her loyal clients to vouch for her online.
These days, as more and more people are turning to the web to look for information, anyone armed with little more than an internet connection and a PC, can make or break your online reputation with postings on blogs, message boards or social networks. Unfortunately, an unhappy client is more like to write about his/her experience than a happy one. But that needn’t put you down, as there are plenty of ways to monitor your online reputation and regain lost ground. Here are a few tips that should help you on the way.
Start with monitoring
Tools like Monitor This (www.monitorthis.com) allow you to monitor a single keyword across 22 different search engine feeds at the same time. Subscribing to these is a good idea. Try creating custom RSS feeds based on keyword searches with sites like Feedster (www.feedster.com), Technorati ( w w w. t e ch n o r at i . c o m , Google.com/blogsearch, Yahoo! News and Google News. You could put all these feeds into a single integrator such as Bloglines.com for easy access. Also signing up for Google and Yahoo email alerts using your desired keywords (http://alerts.yahoo.com/ and www.google.com/alerts) is a good start. This is a great way to stay aware of your ‘online footprint’ and possibly protect your reputation and/or identity.
To do this, all you need is a Google or Yahoo account. Sign in and click on the ‘My Account’ link at the upper right corner. In your list of services, click on the ‘Alerts’ link. Here you can create a new Google Alert with your chosen search terms, type (areas to search), how often including ‘asit-happens’, and your email address. Click the ‘Create Alert’ button. So now, every time Google/Yahoo content matches your search terms, they will send you a detailed email about it.
For tracking blogs, tools like Bloginfluence.net and Socialmeter.com can come in handy. These show you the popularity for any entered blog URL. You can use these to get a snapshot of the credibility of any blogger discussing your company. Also, if someone is trying to malign you, use sites like DomainTools.com or Better-Whois.com to research backgrounds of bloggers, owners of forums and web site editors.
Remedies on negative feedback
With all this monitoring if you find some unfavourable post, here is what you could do to remedy the situation:
Identify the author of the blog and read their profile—Who are they? Who do they work for? Read the blogger’s other work to dig up the kind of profile he/she has. If it’s a negative blog, post an explanation about what you have done to rectify any issue. If it’s an irate client, offer to resolve any complaints and try to continue discussion offline. If the blog is not true, then politely request blog, forum, news site owner to remove or retract. Check with other owners who write on similar topics and see if they are interested in publishing your side of the story.
Use friends, family and happy clients to rally for you on blogs and online groups for various topics. Build alliances/partnerships with most prolific members on blogs. You could utilize networking sites to do this. Finally, it’s a good idea to offer to keep interested bloggers informed of future news about your venture—this normally works in your favour.