Reputation Management: Monitoring Your Brand Online

November 9, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Holy no break between sessions, Batman. If I didn’t know better, I’d think Brett Tabke hates me. Luckily, I know he adores me. Just like the rest of the search industry, right? What? LEAVE ME ALONE!

But I digress…

Up on stage we have Andy Beal, Rhea Drysdale (GO RHEA!), Tony Wright, and Todd Friesen.  The speakers are chatting amongst themselves at the moment. Everyone’s always a little scatterbrained on Day 1. Even the experts. We’re hanging out until microphones are delivered to the stage.

Yey, they’re here!  Okay, we’re starting.

Todd Friesen is up first and is introduced by moderator Krista Neher as being “kind of a big deal”.  Todd says he’s sleepy because he had some flight troubles. Apparently he booked his flight for the exact time the session started so he had to book another last minute. Oops.  We’re glad you made it, Todd.

Reputation management allows you to control what is seen. You don’t want bad things impacting your sales or the reputation of your company.  He talks about Elliot Spitzer and how he found himself with his pants down (literally) and the SERPs were filled with bad results that were out of his control.  He compares that with Under Armor who has done a good job controlling the SERPs with content they CAN control.

Some scary stats:

  • 80 percent of adults are more likely to buy a product based on recommendation.
  • 90 percent of consumers trust recommendations and reviews.
  • 87 percent of people believe that the reputation of a CEO is important.
  • 83 percent of companies will face a crisis that will affect share price up to 30 percent in the next five years.  [ouch!]

More scary stuff:

  • On RipOff Report there are more than 300,000 complaints filed. More than 1220 companies have >5 complaints registered.
  • On Complaints Board, there are 28,000+ US-based complaints files, 10,000+ Canadian-based complaints and more than 10,000 UK-based complaints

It’s just way too easy for people to complain on the Internet.  Google shows 439K URLs containing the word “sucks”. There are 126k URLs in Google that contain the word “boycott”. People are awesome.

What do you do?

You want to own your Top 10. How?

  • If you have a blog, put it on a sub-domain (For SEO, put it in a sub folder. For ORM, put it on a sub-domain)
  • Put news on a sub domain.
  • SEM campaigns
  • Affiliate sites
  • Job postings – Not hiring? Todd says to create a listing for a secretary that you  never fill. It’s only a little big sleazy.  Oh, Todd…
  • Social profiles – Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, Monster, WordPress, Indeed, etc.

If you want to go out and get all of these profiles, use to do it with one click.

Next up is Rhea Drysdale. GO RHEA! YEY! WOOOOT!  Sorry. I’ll behave myself now.

Things are getting scary and they’re getting scary because of Google. Google’s done a lot of things over the past few years that’s making it easier for negative reviews to rank.   Reputation management doesn’t matter unless you have a reputation management problem. Once you do, it consumes your life. The problem is, you should have been working on this years ago. Rhea says it takes about 4 years to recover your brand after a serious crisis hits. Wow, good stat to know.

Ask yourself:

  • Is risk management a priority for your business?
  • Have brand threats and weaknesses been identified?
  • Is there a risk management system in place?
  • What are the new risks that could be on the horizon?

Universal Search was released in 2007. It pulls together all the vertical search engines that Google has. It integrates News results, blog posts, image results, etc, into one big search results page. She shows a search for Carl Paladino and what his search results pages look – it’s not good.  He had serious issues leading up to his recent political campaign with some bad Gawker press and negative images appearing.

On the flip side, Andrew Cuomo was running against Paladino and his results looked stellar.  He has happy family photos ranking, positive brand mentions, etc.  Totally unrelated I’m sure, but Andrew won the election.  I’m sure it didn’t hurt that Paladino is a whack job.

How do you combat Universal Search results?

  • Create sticky, good news
  • Create a product feed
  • Blogs
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Press Releases
  • Books

Real Time Search Results showed up in 2009 (and created real time spam). They’ll appear for trending topics and things will start automatically updating as fresh news appears.   How do you combat real time search? Invest in a social media plan.  Use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, news coverage, blogs, etc.

Google Instant: It’s a pain. She turned it off. She imagines normal people haven’t.  It utilizes Google Suggest.

Rhea mentions Cooks Source magazine where they stole an article from someone and caused an Internet flame war. How do you check for Suggested Results? Start typing in a query and see what shows up.  Or you can check Google’s Suggested Search API. She shows how to do that but I couldn’t type it in time.  Maybe if you ask her, she’ll share it with you. :)

Audit your own reputation:

  • Review analytics
  • Do you have content that matches those searches?
  • Are you investing in customer service?
  • Are you investing in marketing?
  • Are you investing in PR?

Google is now showing more search results. She talks about Marie Claire and their “fattie” issue. While the situation was a hit to the brand, because the brand is so strong, they actually have four listings showing up before any of the bad stuff.  That’s pretty good.

Solicit positive reviews on sites like, Yelp, SuperPages, Google Reviews, OpenTable, Own site w/hreview, etc.

Reviews Patent Application: Google is developing reputation score for reviews, similar to real-time search evaluation and Yelp’s Review Filter.  Rhea says that could be good or bad. We’ll have to wait and see.

Next up is Andy Beal.

Tracking Social Media

Why Track Your Online Reputation?

  • Reputation Management
  • Measure success of campaigns
  • decentralized customer service
  • spy on your competitors
  • track industry news
  • improve press/blogger relations

What to Track?

Lots of things!

  • Employees
  • Slogans
  • Recent Fires
  • Product Names
  • Lots more – Go here for a full list: You’re welcome.

The Big Five Monitoring Tools

  • Google Alerts: Go with the Comprehensive/as it happens to stay totally up to date.
  • Has a number of cool tools for monitoring blogs.
  • Twitter: Use Search.Twitter.Com to refine your searches. You can only see tweets about blackberry that originate within thirty miles of Vegas. You can even be more specific and search for tweets from a particular user.
  • Keotag: A great tool.  It lets you monitor all the different social networking and bookmarking sites.  You type your keyword in one time and it lets you move between social networks to see the results. You can also get the RSS feeds or use the OPLM file.

Aggregating Mentions

NetVibes: He takes the RSS feeds he’s created and puts them into a dashboard. It’s mobile-friendly so he can also pull it up on the road.

Act On The Data

  • Who is responsible for the data?
  • Bring data to R&D, Sales, Marketing
  • Measure changing sentiment
  • Refine your marketing/PR messaging
  • Check your Web analytics

When should you use a paid tool? When you have lots of keywords to monitor, when you know you’re going to be discussed a lot, when you need to know how influential the people talking about you are, when you need to monitor the profiles of different people in your company, etc.  He thinks the free tools will be good for 80 percent of folks. That’s good to know.

Next up is Tony Wright.

The things about monitoring:

  • There are literally hundreds of tools, from the very free to the very expensive
  • Beware of relying on any data gleaned from “automated sentiment”. They don’t understand sarcasm.
  • No tool will monitor reviews in Google – that must be done manually
  • Monitoring the SERPs can be done through ranking tools.

Creating a formula for online reputation

How do you know when to respond? Items to consider

  • Reach of the venue
  • Influence of the poster
  • Tone of the content
  • Follow-up on the post (watch for on-topics vs off-topic)
  • Viral effects

When to Respond:

This really depends on your brand and resources. Reaction to every mention requires continued reaction to every message. If you start and then stop, you can damage your brand. Set proper expectations for your followers and be prepared to do customer service via social media channels.

Review Management

No matter what state you read, know this…unhappy customers are more likely to complain. The goal of review management is to get the happy customers to talk. They do this through review portals, staff incentives and staff education about how to solicit reviews.

Do you have a social media policy?  Do you  have more than ten employees? If so, you better get one. Are you in a regulate field that requires compliance? Do your employees know your social media policy? How do you enforce violations of your policy?

Review Management – Educating Employees

  • Every employee, contractor and vendor can have an affect on your reviews
  • Management needs to make employee education on social media a priority
  • Good customer service won’t keep negative reviews from happening, but it does help stem the flow.

Review Management – Content

Creating content that positions your company as a thought leader can solicit positive reviews.

And we’re out!

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