This article first appeared on Visibility Magazine on Sept 1st, 2015.
When is the last time you took an inventory of what comes up in search results when you search for yourself and your company? Today everything is online and information travels more ubiquitously than ever before. While this represents what Rupert Murdoch calls “the golden age of media” and an increasingly level playing field to spread ideas, it also creates a new environment of reputational risks for those who are not proactively monitoring their names on the Internet. Luckily, the process of monitoring search results and social media for mentions of yourself, your company, and your brand can be completely automated using free basic services or professional monitoring solutions. There are two major components of any automated reputation auditing solution: Social Media Monitoring and Search Engine Alerts.
Search Engine Alerts
Search engines function by collecting data in an index and presenting the most relevant information based on a user’s search. In a marvel of modern computing, Google crawls, analyzes, and indexes 30 trillion web pages 100 billion times per month. When information enters search engine results, it has entered Google’s index first. Ergo, the most effective strategy is to set up an automated alert system to monitor the index. Google offers free software to do this called Google Alerts.
Social Media Monitoring
Because not all social media is accessible directly by Google crawlers, it is also prudent to configure alerts on social media platforms to ensure that you can monitor and participate in conversations about yourself and your company online. Hootsuite and Talkwalker offer free trials or base level accounts which enable you to easily configure monitoring solutions.
Many companies choose to employ enterprise reputation monitoring to ensure they always maintain an up to date, comprehensive overview of their image online. The beauty of these software solutions is that they are configured by teams who specialize in this type of marketing, are built to synthesize data from multiple sources, and scale seamlessly with your organization.
What to Monitor
A good reputation audit will overview relevant terms without including superfluous information. There are four major categories you should focus on when configuring monitoring software.
Monitor your brand name. This is an obvious first choice if you are going to perform a reputation audit. It is also a good idea to create search monitoring for [company name] + “reviews” to see when search results are registered on different review sites.
The next step is to understand what is being said about you personally on the internet and social media. Most social media sites will indicate when you have been tagged or mentioned in a post, but you may also choose to include monitoring for middle names or nicknames. If you have a common name, you can eliminate some false positive alerts by monitoring [your name] + location. Google now acts as a first impression and is increasingly turned to by friends, dates, and hiring managers to learn more information about people.
Who are the top five public figures at your company and what is being said about them online? Deloitte currently ranks reputation risk for executives as the leading strategic risk for companies. A great way to mitigate reputational risk is to develop a proactive reputation auditing plan.
Companies invest heavily in their intellectual property, and slogans like “Just Do It” and “Have it Your Way” become synonymous with attitude, service, and quality of their respective brands. If your company uses slogans or trademarked terms for proprietary services, add these to your reputation audit for a complete picture of your online image.
There’s an incredible Ted talk by Alexis Ohanian where he uses his experience with Reddit to prove that brands are shared. Marketing is no longer an easy monolog to potential buyers. If they haven’t already, people will eventually comment online about you, your company, and top executives. Reputation risk is a primary strategic risk for companies today. However, with a little preparation, it is easier than ever to develop an ongoing strategy to audit your reputation and ensure that you receive accurate information in real time when you or your company is the subject of an online discussion.