At the next Raleigh SEO Meetup, we’re covering Your Brand Presence & Managing It Online. Ashley had this one queued up for at least 3 months, but over the last week or so, some of my favorite blogs have decided to also write about it.
- Work on claiming your SERP
- Ramp up your customer service
- Build your listening station
- Learn when to duck and when to punch
Don’t over look #4, not every attack or slight needs a response. When you get in an argument with a crazy person, nobody can tell that only one of you is crazy.
Then Chris Brogan gets into a discussion of Timberland and his bad experience with them and then pulls back when he realizes that his powerful blog can do real damage to a company’s online presence. It was a really smart move on his part to pull back and recalculate.
If you or your brand are known by more than a handful of people, you have an online reputation. The more connected you are, the easier it is to see what that reputation is.
Let’s take a quiz, shall we? I’ll say a brand name, you shout out the first word you think of that relates to it, ready?
Well, how did that go? Did you have an opinion on those brands?
Those brands have people dedicated to monitoring and defending their brand, even so, I probably found at least one that you don’t have a positive opinion of . So with that in mind, how is your online reputation?
The other day I was in the Wake County Courthouse watching as the kids that broke into my house last summer and stole 2 laptops went in front of a judge in juvenile court. A couple friends had asked for updates, so I tweeted out some updates.
Now, if you do a search on Google for Derice Utley(who pleaded guilty to felony breaking and entering) this is what you see:
That’s a classic online reputation problem. So what can he do to fix this, I mean besides stop breaking the law?
Well, step 1 would be what Lisa Barone suggests. Get control of your brand on the search result page. If your only footprint on the web is what other people have said about you, it will eventually be something bad. People will rarely write a post about how awesome you are, they are much more likely to write a long rant about how much you suck.
I try to regularly Google my name to see what is showing up. I share a name with a comedian so we share most of page 1, but more importantly I control all of the sources of information that show up on that page about me. Twitter, this site, LinkedIn and my Google profile page are all places I have the opportunity to put my best forward. Any brand can, and should be doing the same thing. If you wait until Defcon4 before starting, it’s too late, start right now. If you’re not a big business, you can do some personal branding to inoculate yourself against future screw ups.
If you are a business, you can do something that can head off a nasty rant, you can stop sucking. I know that even the best companies sometimes have customers that can’t ever be satisfied, but more often, that’s not the case. For example, my wife sprained her ankle really bad this morning so we spent a chunk of the day on the phone with doctor offices and in x-ray offices. In almost every exchange, on the phone or in person, the treatment we received ranged from below average to really bad.
So what happens when you see someone trashing your brand, or your company or even you personally? First decide if it’s worth engaging at all. Sometimes, it’s just not worth the effort, but other times you have to. First, take a breath and realize they are pissed off about something. Is the complaint actually warranted? If you could have done better, say so. Apologize to the person and move the conversation from “I hate you guys” to “how can we fix the problem”.
If the problem is someone who is misguided, enter gently and explain why they might be looking at things differently than you. Personally, I still think an apology doesn’t hurt in this case either.
Sometimes you will just get a situation where someone doesn’t want reconciliation, they want vengeance. This is harder. If a former employee calls you out on Twitter as a liar or says you did something illegal, how do you react? In this case, you have to make a judgment about the other person and if you think there is any way to salvage the relationship. If there isn’t, don’t respond directly where everyone else can see a running transcript of the craziness. In a situation like this, you may want to ask your network of friends to offer up a defense for you. That way, it makes the disgruntled ex-employee just look like a disgruntled ex-employee.
If you want to find out about some of the really cool tools available to you so that you can listen in to what’s being said about you, join us on the 15th, or check back here next week for part 2.