Silver Silk & Beads in Savannah Georgia

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Reputation Monitoring and Promoting Your Business Online - August 2009

When Bing Crosby sang'You've got to accentuate the positive/and get rid of the negative'back 1944, he probably wasn't taking into consideration the Internet and promoting business reputation. But at its simplest, those two ideas are the underlying principles behind managing your online reputation, and moreover, they're intrinsically linked. You are able to either be proactive in promoting your company online, or you can sit back and hope none of the hundreds of thousands of people online have made negative comments about your business. Take Google. It accounts for 50% of all Internet searches. Many Google searchers reportedly never look beyond the initial ten links. For businesses and individuals worldwide, what this means is their most visible reputation is dictated by ten blue links and a few lines of text. So, it's worth monitoring your online reputation. Reputation Monitoring Reputation monitoring involves checking what is being said about you online and is important and useful for the reasons outlined here. Finding out what's being said about yourself or your company online needs to add blogs, micro blogs, social networking, video sharing websites, news feeds, forums, message boards and whatever other new buzz tool web 2.0 throws up this week. There are certainly a variety of free tools online that allows you to search through these sites or monitor in realtime, but watching everything could be complicated, confusing and time-consuming. And that's when you even try to answer the content. For this reason there's an increasing requirement for services which could allow you to track your online profile and reputation by providing a consolidated view of comments from all sources, and then filtering and categorizing these to make it more straightforward to start to see the wood for the trees. A free tool to assist you gauge your online reputation is Google Alerts. However, it's hardly the entire picture. Google (and Yahoo) only alert one to content after they index it for search. This will be quick for major sites such as the BBC and CNN, however for many more it is going to be once per day, once per week or even less frequently. Nor does Google try to be comprehensive. Like, they have a tendency to ignore comments on lower ranked sites. So Google Alerts is considered to cover only 30 % of all online content. Specifically Blogs, Forums and Social Media sites are not comprehensively covered. As an example, Technorati and Board Reports are better for Blogs and Forums. Generally the clear answer is with an aggregator to bring these sources together and collate and categorize the results. BuzzMonitor and LeafRSs are types of such tools. For paid services, there are always a confusing number. A significant advantage they offer over free tools is in offering custom filters to fine tune the outcomes, and reduce the amount of irrelevant ones. However, most of them are directed at tracking marketing or advertising campaigns to assess'buzz'value. Negative Content If your organization is'Travel XYZ ', and your potential customers are searching for information regarding you, their first impression is almost certainly influenced not by your official website, but by the information that comes up when they conduct a Google search. The first or second link might be to the state''site. But imagine if among one other search results in the very best ten, there is one featuring links to a disgruntled report on one of your holiday packages, a community thread about how'Travel XYZ stole my money ', or possibly a dedicated complaints blog called! It's immaterial if the comments on the negative sites are correct or not. The thing is that the same as in the offline world, first impressions count. Irrespective of how good your official website, those negative sites are going to sit in the mind of your potential customers, and contacts, and at the very best raise doubts. At worst, it might begin to see the potential customer pass over your organization and seek out a company with a more favourable online presence. So exactly what do you do? Your first instinct might be to do everything you are able to to have the negative content removed. In the end, when someone spray-painted something about your company quietly of one's shopfront, you'd do everything in your power to own it removed as quickly as possible. Unfortunately when it comes to online content, having items removed is not always straightforward. On many occasions efforts to force people to get rid of online comment has backfired, only creating more attention on the negative content, attracting visitors and shooting it down the Google rankings...maybe even in front of the businesses'official site! Rather than move in a heavy handed fashion to own negative content removed, a far more'softly softly' approach may achieve an improved outcome. For instance, you may try putting across your side in a constructive and positive way (sometimes you might want to activate the services of a PR expert to greatly help you). Another tactic sometimes might involve engaging the services of a Search Engine optimisation expert (SEO) who specialises in this kind of work to control the search results striving to get rid of the negative, by starting to accentuate the positive. What does this mean? It offers establishing an optimistic identity for your company online. It has two effects. One, by becoming more prominent online you stand an improved chance of'owning'your search rankings (so regarding lessen the opportunity that isolated incidents will rise to prominence on Google). And two, you begin to interact your visitors in a positive and transparent way, and possibly even head off potential negative comments before they are even made. Websites The first and most obvious solution to establish your profile online is with your own personal website. A website allows you to strengthen your connection together with your existing customers, and also act as a first impression for potential new customers. An easy good informative site with a lot of interesting and helpful information describing tips on how to meet people's needs will reflect favourably on your brand and can help create an image of professionalism. Odds are most businesses curently have a web site, but there's often scope for enhancing its presence and ranking by providing useful content, such as regularly updated information on your business and advice on new developments in your industry. What else can you do? Internet forums An excellent forum is a public meeting space where like-minded people can get together to go over their interests in an agreeable and supportive environment. Some forums contain 1000s of users, all thinking about the topic your company happens to market. If you're the marketing manager for a professional football team, then monitoring an unofficial fans forum featuring tens and thousands of members appears to be a useful way to gauge how fans experience your team. However, watch the web forum environment for some time when you leap in. Consideration should always get beforehand to the method by which you'll engage with your customers in a forum. Some companies have tried creating'dummy profiles'and logging onto forums to market their products direct to users underneath the guise of being a member of the public. This kind of marketing is more often than not a failure, and serves only to alienate potential customers. People (especially internet users!) are cynical, and a new user with a handful of posts who only seems to advertise your product is going to be seen through, and most be banned from the forum. What's more within the EU this kind of'buzz marketing'exposes one to a possible fine of up to £5000, and two years imprisonment following a Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which came into force last year. Used, even when no prosecution is brought, a practice deemed illegal by the Advertising Standards Authority could lead to other undesirable consequences. For example, insurers may disclaim liability, suppliers may argue they've a directly to disappear from particular contracts, other bodies such as the Consumers'Association could become involved. So, because of the potential ramifications, and the practices recognized to cause online success, if you intend to engage forum users, the key is transparency. Create a profile in your own or your company's name, include links to your official website, and make an endeavor to contribute useful information to the forum in order to become an invaluable member. By establishing yourself as a trustworthy authority on a topic, you can grow the profile of your business and your potential customer base. Blogs While traditionally journals have now been introspective, blogs which are effectively an online journal are open for viewing by millions of readers worldwide, with some of the most used blogs attracting thousands of daily readers. While blogs are normally related to individuals and personal interests, corporate blogging is become increasingly popular. A 2006 study by Jupiter Research estimated 34% of large companies had weblogs, with many more companies thinking about starting their particular web logs. A corporate blog which can be open to the public can be a smart way to activate with your visitors and provide them with an insight into the everyday operations of one's business. It's also flexible, and allows you to comment on news, announcements, as well as potential bad news about your company in a friendly, readily available and less formal way when compared to a traditional press release. Microsites A microsite is an internet site that will be separate to your primary business website and has its domain. Like, might be most of your website, which advertises a range of clothing available for order. However, perhaps you want to give prominence to a Christmas sale, without distracting from your core site and changing its content. Because situation you could look at creating the microsite, which is targeted on the specific Christmas sale. The added good thing about this type of microsite is you can conduct contextual advertising. Contextual advertising involves banner advertising on other websites depending on keyword. For instance, using contextual advertising you could target Internet users who are searching for Christmas information with targeted advertising about your specific Christmas website. Social support systems The members of a guide club, or indeed, any number of those who meet up because of a common interest might be called a social network. Online social networking is the same, only occurring on the Internet. So, in general terms, a social networking site can be an Internet website that enables you to connect and talk with people who have similar interests. There are literally countless social networking sites, with the most used including Facebook, Linked In and Twitter. They vary, but at their heart each one of these sites enable you to create profiles and proffer your thoughts, opinions and musings with a worldwide audience. But what should you choose a Google search of your business and nothing arises? Will there be still a need to'accentuate the positive ', by establishing an on the web presence and actively promoting your organization? If anything it's more important than ever.

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