I want to thank Andy Beal for taking time out of his very busy schedule to answer some reputation management questions for me with this guest blog post today. I have received, (and had on my mind) many questions about reputation management, and what normal businesses can do – including the reputation monitoring software Trackur, created by Andy. I felt I needed to ask the person who IMO is the authority on reputation management. Again, I really want to thank Andy for setting aside some time for me!
Why do YOU feel companies need to make reputation management a priority?
Companies need to pay attention to what their stakeholders have to say about their brand. A stakeholder could be a customer, employee, or even a business partner–anyone that interacts with your brand. Numerous studies prove that, as customers, we trust the reviews and opinions of others “like ourselves” and are less trusting of official corporate communication. With that in mind, it is vital that companies listen to the conversations and, if appropriate, join those conversations.
As we enter tougher economic times, it will no longer be the case that you can simply buy a better reputation with advertising and press releases. Instead, those companies that successfully improve the sentiment of their online reputation will win. They’ll win because they spend less on advertising messaging and they’ll build a loyal following of stakeholders.
Do you have any kind of figures that corporations have shared with you about money lost due to negative results in the SERPs?
Hah! Most companies would be too embarrassed to admit the amount of money they’ve lost due to negative results in the search engines. That said, I’ve worked with companies of all sizes and, without exception, they’re all concerned about the financial impact a negative result in Google’s first ten results, has on their business.
From my own observations, I’ve worked with clients that must have been losing 6-7 figures a year because the first two Google results were very negative. Here’s what’s interesting. Even if a company doesn’t have a good estimate of how much business it’s losing from negative SERPs, it knows that it must be hurting them somehow.
If people do not have a big budget what are the most important things they can do for their online reputations?
Well, prevention is definitely better than the cure. If you don’t have any reputation issues, now is the time to start preparing for an attack. It’s much easier to build a positive reputation–including optimized content for Google–while things are calm. Trust me, the last thing you want is to try and build positive web content for Google, and sit and wait while it (hopefully) pushes down the negative listings.
Looking beyond search, I’d recommend that companies identify who their evangelist customers are and where they can be reached. If they have their own forum, now is the time to participate. If they’re on Twitter, set up an account and reach out to them. If there isn’t a central place for your customers to hang-out and discuss your business, why not build one for them? Ning.com is a great white-label solution for social networks.
What prompted you to create Trackur? What are the benefits of a membership? Where do people sign up for a trial?
I started Trackur out of frustration. When speaking at conferences, I’d tell audience members that they had two choices. Spend thousands a month for a professional social media monitoring service, or “use these 20+ free tools” and cobble it together yourself. There wasn’t anything affordable that I could recommend. Instead of griping, I launched Trackur as a low cost (just $18 a month) solution for those that had the need, but not the deep pockets.
Users can head to www.trackur.com and get a free 14-day trial. Set-up takes just a couple of minutes, and in no time you’ll be fully aware of all conversations about your company, you’ll be able to measure the trends in those conversations, as well as measure which web sites exert the most influence on your reputation.