Online reputation management is one of the fastest-growing sectors of business PR.
As consumers increasingly rely on the Internet as a vehicle for receiving and transferring information, unfavorable comments have the potential to do even greater damage to company brands and products. Just a small handful of negative quips can quickly spread like wildfire across the Internet.
Whether you like it or not, you're going to have to be involved in the process of managing your company's online presence. Here are some of the online reputation management tools that will make your life a little easier.
- Blog monitoring tools. Depending on who you talk to, blogs (or weblogs) are either the savior or the blight of the information age. Armed with just an Internet connection, individuals can post articles and attract an audience with a minimal effort and no editorial oversight. Although businesses frequently use blogs to their advantage, it can be problematic when a blog turns negative on a brand. Online resources like Technorati and BlogPulse monitor blog content and alert you when your brand or products are mentioned.
- Social media monitoring. Social media sites represent another double-edged sword for business owners. Effective PR strategies leverage the power of social media to communicate key messaging to targeted consumers. But that same power can do damage if you find yourself in the crosshairs of aggressive social networkers. Twitter Search and Monitter are real time Twitter monitoring resources that give you a sense for the kinds of things that are being said about your business on social media sites. If you are a company that only likes to use the best software available and you are serious about social media monitoring, you'll want to check out Alterian SM2 social media monitoring software.
- Google Alerts. Google Alerts is a very popular tool for monitoring keyword mentions in news, web searches, blogs, and other web locations. After you set up a free account, alerts are sent by email according to your preferred frequency. Another popular search aggregator (a metasearch engine that collects results from many different search engines) is MonitorThis.
- Message & discussion boards. Message boards are yet another area of concern for online reputation management. It's not unheard of for competitors to fabricate negative posts on message boards in an effort to unleash bad PR on a rival. Fortunately, resources like BoardTracker Forum Discussion Search let you monitor the comments made on popular message boards so that you have the ability to respond before negative messaging goes viral.