Have you Googled your company lately? If not, you probably should. What people are saying online about your brand -- the good, the bad and the oftentimes inaccurate -- makes all the difference when it comes to winning or losing customers, says Michael Fertik, founder and chief executive of Redwood City, Calif.-based online reputation management agency Reputation.com and co-author of Wild West 2.0: How to Protect and Restore Your Reputation on the Untamed Social Frontier (AMACOM, 2010).
Start by simply searching for your company's name -- and the names of your products and services -- on Google, Yahoo and Bing, and see what types of information come up. Search using the exact title of your business, along with common misspellings of it. You'll also want to run an image search using your company's name.
Thankfully, yes. All you have to do is create a Google Alert. They are free, real-time email alerts that are automatically sent to your email address when mentions about your company occur online. You can easily set up multiple keyword-based alerts to notify you when relevant new web content is published about your products, services and events and those of your competitors.
Fertik says it's just as crucial to monitor your competitors' online reputations as it is to stay on top of your own.
Your company's own website is your first line of defense when it comes to your online reputation, Zammuto says. Does it contain compelling brand messaging that clearly demonstrates what your company services or sells?
If you have your own company Facebook page or Twitter account, log into each platform daily to track customer questions and comments and respond to them individually in a timely manner, Zammuto advises.
"Word-of-review is now more powerful than word-of-mouth," Fertik says, so it's critical to analyze and understand what people are saying about your company on review sites that are relevant to your specific line of business.
Zammuto suggests that you create several different unique types of web content that highlight your products and services, including a company blog and a YouTube channel, for starters.
Yes, especially if you are the product itself, says Fertik. For example, if you are a doctor or an attorney, you'll want to be sure that when people search for your name online they encounter web content about you that is nothing less than favorable. This includes comments, images and videos that you post on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and on your personal blog. Your personal online persona and image should be "consistent with your profession enough to boost consumer confidence," Fertik says.
Both Fertik and Zammuto advise that you don't waste time responding to excessively negative or attacking comments on review sites like Yelp.