Image by: Jeffery Turner
By Gordon J. Pruitt
Sure, you want people talking about you on the Internet. Any publicity is good publicity, right?
Not really. There is plenty of nonsense being distributed online these days that can irreparably harm a company or brand. One viral video or disgruntled employee diatribe can destroy years of hard work in a matter of hours.
Heck, even in a matter of minutes.
I guess that’s just the price of doing business, right? Wrong. It doesn’t have to be like this. You don’t have to have to be standing around with your pants down around your ankles and a breeze blowing through your nether regions.
You don’t oh-so-vulnerable to the loathsome web scoundrels eager to claim another e-victim.
Get Ahead Of The Game
That’s right. Don’t wait for disaster to strike and spread – monitor your brand so that you can get in front of any story and mitigate damage.
One of the biggest areas of concern is social media. The press has told the story a thousand times about how the web has made an instant star out of this person or that place – well guess what? The same thing can happen in reverse.
You could suddenly find your brand denigrated in ways you never imagined, focused grouped or sweat-shack hallucinated during that company retreat to Arizona.
Every day, 50,000 new blogs are started – are one of those making dubious claims about your company or product?
Party Picture 1979
Right now your SEO might be DOA thanks to RottenEggHatcher’s “expose” on your company’s founder featuring “proof” that your one-time CEO was a Nazi. He’s not a Nazi, but in fact did play one in an experimental college theater troupe production of What A Dictator! back in ’79 and someone just happened to snap a photo.
Yeah, he probably shouldn’t have done the full-on salute. Funny at the time, sure. Now? Not so much.
In that extreme example, a picture is worth a hundred thousand words, a million tweets, and a seemingly infinitesimal number of posts and rants, all chipping away at your company’s valuate and marketing efforts.
You need to stay on top of that kind of stuff.
Do It Yourself
The DIY way to go is to build yourself a series of Google Alerts (or similar app) to create your own news feed that grabs any web pages or posts that contain specific keywords such as the name of your company, known trademarks, patent numbers, names of your company’s employees and product names you deem relevant.
You can even have it all go to your Google Reader in the form of an RSS feed. Fantastic.
This will take quite a while to do correctly, but it is worth the investment in time.
Tools Of The Trade
There are also plenty of tools and applications out there that can automate your intelligence gathering – or in this case, lack-of-intelligence gathering – operation. Many apps have social media monitoring as part of their social media menu, which usually includes a mix of stats, metrics and other handy data and tools.
One such product is Heartbeat by Sysomos. It promises real-time monitoring and a dashboard that’s fully customizable so you can stay in touch with your online reputation.
Hootsuite comes highly recommended from several sources for its ability to smartly manage multiple accounts. You can even use it to co-create documents with your co-workers. Co-wazy. They offer Hootsuite in three flavors, free, pro ($9.99 per month) and something called “enterprise” which must be expensive because they don’t list the price.