As anyone in business will know, companies can be made or broken on reputation alone. After all, it is a sad fact of the business world that positive brand reputations that have taken years to build can be destroyed in a matter of days. This, of course, has always been the case and for this reason companies have invested large amounts of money in protecting their reputation.
All of this has changed in recent years. Once upon a time damaged reputations could take months and even years to repair, but the advent of the Internet and social media has meant that reputations can be made and more importantly broken almost overnight.
For this reason, the ability to manage reputations has never been so important. The good news for today’s businesses is that there are a number of non-traditional tools out there that make the whole process not just easier but more effective.
Perhaps the first stop for any business wanting to get a grip on their online reputation management is Google Alerts. The first thing to say here is that it is free and therefore the perfect solution for those dipping their toes in the waters of online reputation management for the first time.
Google Alerts is also really easy to use and provides a number of key tools, most importantly its ability to search keywords. This would be useful on its own, but when combined with the ability to receive reports of words important to a brand, it quickly becomes a killer app. Google Alerts are highly recommended for all users.
While Google Alerts is the best general purpose application, there are a number of speciality apps that are worth considering if a business wants to track a particular area of social media (where, of course, reputations are most at risk).
For anyone wanting to monitor brand reputation on Twitter there are a couple of applications that are definitely worth a look. The first of these is Monitter, which should probably be the first stop for new users. It provides a number of simple and easy to use tools, but is probably best recommended for its ability to give the user a real-time monitoring experience.
The other Twitter application that is worth investigation is Tweetburner. Probably a more advanced option than Monitter, Tweetburner holds the ability to use those shortened URLs so beloved of Twitter to provide details of how many “clicks” they have received, which means a business is in a position to get some hard data behinds its reputation management campaign.
For businesses interested in keeping an eye on Facebook, Lexicon is a really user-friendly way to utilize keywords to get a useful overview of what is being said of a brand across the whole of Facebook. As a quick snap-shot it is probably second to none and should be used for any business that thinks Facebook users are discussing their brand.
Finally, for any business that wants to move beyond the main networks to the more general blogosphere, Technorati should be the first stop. Designed to act as a blog search engine, it is one of the earliest reputation management tools and its experience shows. Very easy to use, it nonetheless provides concise and pertinent reports of what is being said on blogs about a brand.
Using any or all of these non-traditional tools for online reputation management will give the modern business the best chance of ensuring that their brand remains seen in a positive way.
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About the author: Carla Sanchez is a freelance writer for a world leader at marketing automation and web site statistics services.