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Monday, July 6, 2009

What are people saying about your business online?

If someone was talking about you (positively or negatively), you would want to know about it, right? If someone was speaking your praises, you would want to thank them. Conversely, if someone was speaking poorly about you, you would want to set the record straight. The same is true for your business. But today, someone can just as easily talk about your business face-to-face as they can post to a blog, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Your business's reputation is just as important in brick-and-mortar as it is online. Customers are not just going to your website to get information about your business. You must also manage your web presence for postings from people outside your organization. The internet is a place where anyone (fan or critic) can express their opinions about anyone and anything. Don't be oblivious (or vulnerable) to rumors, complaints, review sites, blogs, etc.

In a BusinessWeek article, Tom Kurz, co-founder of The Escapist, a video gaming site, explains what his company does to monitor their online reputation. With technology (especially social media) changing frequently, small businesses are feeling overwhelmed by trying to manage their web presence. Kurz warns, "If you don't control the message, somebody else does...For a small company with $1 million in sales, when a rumor flies about their product or service, it could sink their entire business."

Seems pretty scary, doesn't it? There are many free tools to help you manage your online reputation. Google Alerts, Google News, Yahoo Alerts, Technorati.com, BlogPulse.com, BoardTracker.com, Keotag.com, and BuzzLogic.com monitor blogs, forums, social networking sites, and/or news for your business's name (or any other search term). If you find posts about your business, you need to respond to it immediately. Kurz explains, "What we want to know is if people are talking positively about us, so we can link to it. If they're talking negatively, we want to address the issue right away...Oh, we've had to do some major damage control. I can't tell you how many times someone will post something and blame us for something we had nothing to do with. If we get there pretty quickly, we can address a negative comment directly with the person who made the post, or we can go to the site itself and make a post...If you go to the source and explain truthfully where you're coming from, you buy good will from people who were flaming you. There's nothing better than to turn an adversary into an advocate..."

business reputation article

As an entrepreneur, are you managing your business's online reputation? What tools are you using to find online information? If you have found negative posts, what have you done to curtail the negativity?

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