Important Lessons in Online Reputation Management From @AndyBeal [@InboundNow #24]

andybeal radtrans clear Andy Beal joins us for another exciting episode of Inbound Now, HubSpot's social media and inbound marketing podcast !
Andy is the founder of the popular blog Marketing Pilgrim as well as the CEO and founder of Trackur , an online social media monitoring tool. He's the co-author of a book called Radically Transparent . Some would say he's the Indiana Jones of online reputation management.

In this episode, we chat about:

  • How to keep your online reputation clean
  • An online reputation management horror story
  • Online response time in social media
  • Dealing with negative search engine results
  • Advice on starting monitoring programs
  • Inventive ways to use monitoring tools
  • Klout score and its impact on social media
 

View the full transcript here: How To Manage Your Online Reputation & Social Media Monitoring Lessons with Andy Beal


Contest ends on Wednesday June 15th 2011.

How to Keep Your Online Reputation Clean

"Really, when you think about it, your online reputation is now probably more important than your traditional offline reputation, especially for companies that have any kind of online presence, but certainly just about anybody."

From a customer's perspective, it's easier than ever to make your opinions about a product known. Instead of reaching just a couple people, someone can utilize social media and reach hundreds at once. But companies can contribute to their own online reputation as well.

Companies need to understand their reputation online. What is it currently? What are the potentially damaging situations that could happen? Listen to conversations, get feedback, improve, and be better at it than your competition.

An Online Reputation Management Horror Story

"It doesn't take much of a spark to get people rallied around a cause. They generally don't even know why they're doing it, but they can do it, so they do."

Andy gives the example of a campaign Motrin launched about baby-wearing that was considered condescending by mommy bloggers and Twitter users. Motrin launched the campaign on a Friday, and then everyone went home for the weekend, and no one within the company listened or watched. They came back to a nightmare on Monday, and they had to repair their reputation.

The takeaways from this story are:

  • An online reputation attack can do a lot of damage very quickly.
  • Always be paying attention.
  • When you launch a big campaign like the Motrin one, the monitoring, measuring, follow-up, and social media aspects can't be an afterthought.
  • You don't want to be a trailblazer when it comes to reputation management. You don't want to be the one doing it wrong who will forever be used as a case study.

Online Response Time

"You want to decide on an appropriate response quickly. But that response may be no response."

Look at every situation and evaluate whether or not it needs a response, and what the appropriate response is. In some cases, no response is a proper response. You want to avoid the "Streisand Effect" and not put a big spotlight on small issues.

Respond to people quickly and just let them know that you're listening, you hear what they're saying, you're looking into the issue, and you'll follow up with them as soon as you can. Acknowledge the person and the issue.

Oftentimes, you have the opportunity to turn a detractor into an evangelist by fixing situations.

Dealing With Negative Search Engine Results

"Your reputation is only an extension of your character. So you can't fix it beyond the integrity and the authenticity of your company's character. So that's one thing to keep in mind. Otherwise, it's just a game of Whack-a-Mole. You clean one thing up, and then you make another screw-up and somebody else complains."

The reason why you should focus on social media is because negativity tends to start there. Nip it in the bud with that first tweet or Facebook update (before the person writes a blog post).

If there's already a blog post out there, get to them before it's indexed by Google if you can, and see if, once the issue is resolved, the person will update the post or delete it.

Keep in mind that the worst that can happen is that something will show up in Google. And if there's already something in Google, you now need to create content that's more relevant and more popular. Ideally, you want to be building content all along -- not just when a crisis comes along. You need to be proactive.

Buy your domain name and get the .com, .net, and .org if you can. Also, try to purchase any common misspellings. Put some of your content on each of those sites, and also utilize subdomains. The idea is to keep anything negative, when just Googling your company name, off the first page of results -- because it's less likely that people will go past that first screen.

Advice on Starting Monitoring Programs

"First of all, you've got to understand what your goals are . It doesn't do your company any good to go out and spend a couple thousand bucks on a monitoring firm or a piece of software and just say to yourself, 'Hey, we're monitoring. So now we've got that covered. Let's move on to better things.'"

The first step is to set and understand your goals. What are you trying to achieve? Are you trying to improve the company reputation? Does the CEO have a tendency to get negative press, and you're listening for that? Are you trying to increase your stock price? What is it you're really looking to achieve?

You also want to understand your brands. Where could you possibly come under attack? Sign up for Google Alerts and listen to see what's being said about you. Also, type your company name into Google News or IceRocket or other social media or news search engines.

Once you understand your goals and needs, you can look at vendors. Andy's company is Trackur , but another monitoring service may be better suited to your situation. HubSpot also offers social media monitoring tools as part of its software. Don't forget to also monitor your competition.

Lastly, you need to use the information once you have it. Tell the R&D department feedback on your product. Tell the sales department a particular feature that people love. Use the information, don't just collect it.

Information that comes via your monitoring program is social proof, and it'll also help you move the needle within the organization.

Klout Score and Influence

"I know that these kinds of influence scores come under fire, but it really doesn't matter how accurate it is. It's how people perceive it."

Andy's position on Klout is that all perceptions are flawed, but Klout is the best we have at the moment and it's the score that everyone's adopting. It's perceived to be of value, and that's what's important.

Marketing Pilgrim

"We say, 'We don't break the news. We break it down.' So when everybody is scrambling to get the scoop and break the embargo and all that kind of stuff, and offering a superficial kind of look at it, we try to look at the angle that people are not talking about."

Marketing Pilgrim has been around since 2005, and it's a great place to go to get a deeper look into marketing topics.

Connect With Andy Online

You can follow Andy on Twitter @AndyBeal and connect with him on AndyBeal.com and Marketing Pilgrim . You can also find him on Facebook and Flickr . And don't forget to check out his book, Radically Transparent .

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