Six Free Tools for Online Reputation Management, by Dan Schawbel
Online reputation management consists of tracking your brand and reacting when necessary.
Though sometimes tedious, brand monitoring can save you from a potential disaster when someone cites your name in an article that misrepresents you. Aside from protection, it can help you proactively join conversations around your topic area, helping to get your brand name out there.
It’s almost 2009… and if you aren’t active online you are missing valuable opportunities to advertise your value to the world—through articles, blog entries, social-network profiles, comments, videos and more.
As both a content producer and consumer, your name is being spread throughout each of these circuits by people you might not even know. In fact, research firm IDC finds that there is more content being created about you than you create yourself.
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Part of your brand is in the hands of others, so it’s critical that you monitor it before a flame becomes a forest fire.
Do you know what people are saying about you?
If you want to know how to track your presence and monitor your brand, then you are in luck. Below are the top 6 tools for your online reputation management program. They can be used for product and corporate brands in addition to your personal brand. Use each to search, locate and respond when necessary.
Also, they can be leveraged as part of your marketing strategy, to discover your audience and market to them directly.
* Definition: Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your choice of query or topic. You can subscribe to each alert through email and RSS.
* Application: Many people use their RSS readers to view these alerts, and PR agencies use alerts to track their campaigns. You can monitor a news story, keep current with your industry and competitors, and see who is writing about you, all at the same time.
* Marketing strategy: Set a comprehensive alert, notifying you of stories, as they happen, for your name, your topic, and even your company. As your feed reader fills up with articles that match your query, you should start a database of bloggers and journalists so that you can market to them directly and form better relationships.
2. Blog posts—Technorati.com
* Definition: If you have a blog, then you have to be on Technorati, which is the largest blog search engine in the world. When you register with it, Technorati tracks “blog reactions,” or blogs that link to yours.
* Application: Search for your name on Technorati, and subscribe to RSS alerts so that when someone blogs about you, you find out.
* Marketing strategy: Use Technorati to log every blog that is linking to your own. Keep track of these blogs, and when you write your next post link to them. Doing so will give recognition to those who have recognized yours.
3. Blog comments—backtype.com
* Definition: Recently, a new service came out to solve the problem of monitoring blog comments. Think about it, someone can comment on you on a series of blogs, but if you only track posts you’ll really miss out. BackType is a service that lets you find, follow, and share comments from across the Web. Whenever you write a comment with a link to your Web site, BackType attributes it to you.
* Application: Use backtype.com to remind yourself where you commented, discover influencers who are commenting on blogs that you should be reading, and continue conversations that you started previously.
* Marketing strategy: Establish a list of key influencers in your topic area. Then follow their comments from blog to blog and leave your own comment after theirs. This will help build your brand by association.
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4. Discussion boards—boardtracker.com
* Definition: Along with blogs and traditional news stories, discussion boards are another channel where people can gather in a community and talk about you. Most people disregard discussion boards until they see other sites commenting on information viewed on them.
* Application: Use boardtracker.com to get instant alerts from threads citing your name.
* Marketing strategy: Find all boards that are related to your subject matter and join the top 2-5, based on the amount of conversations and the volume of registered users. Join the communities by starting threads, while leaving your name and URL at the end of each post.
* Definition: Twitter is a microblogging service, hosting over three million people. Twitter messages (tweets) move at the speed of light, and if you don’t catch them they will spread like a virus.
* Application: Using Twitter search, you can locate any instances of your name and tweet back (or remain silent).
* Marketing strategy: As you see tweets with your name attached to them, you should use the “@” sign and the tweeter’s account name (e.g., @danschawbel) to respond accordingly. As you respond, you start to build brand recognition and your audience feels that you care and are actively listening.
* Definition: FriendFeed is a social aggregator. You have the ability to take all of your social accounts, such as YouTube, Delicious, Twitter, blog, and Flickr, and pull them together into a single (Friend) feed.
* Application: You can conduct searches on your brand throughout all social networks at once using this search engine. Aside from learning about the latest video or tweet related to your topic, you can analyze comments that people make under them.
* Marketing strategy: Grab a FriendFeed widget (friendfeed.com/embed/widget) and display it on your Web site or blog, so people get a sense of your social media activity. Also, as you search and locate people who are talking about your brand on FriendFeed, respond to them through comments.
All six of these free tools can be used to monitor and market your company’s brand name as well.
If you aren’t taking care of your online reputation, others will. It’s time to find out what people are saying—and do something about it. Marketing to your audience becomes seamless after you’ve done your homework using these tools.