The buzz in Internet marketing these days is getting much louder around online reputation monitoring and management (ORM). As with most Internet marketing concerns, the small and medium business (SMB) remains among the great unwashed with the latest and greatest. In fact, some statistics show that 40% of small businesses still don’t even have a website! So the question is, if you don’t have a website (or yours is not really marketed) do you still have an online reputation to monitor? The answer is a resounding “Yes”! The conversation about any business is going on whether you decide to be a part of it or not. A quick recommendation to you is to start listening now.
There are so many different outlets for information to be shared about your business. There are the large social media players like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. There are the review sites like CitySearch, Yelp, and a slew of other small, niche, local players that may be seen by your customers. How do you keep up with this information?
While you sit there and moan that you don’t have the time to look after these things, I simply ask you can you afford not to? One bad review could spoil months of work you put into trying to land a new customer. What’s the value of the time spent to uncover and address such an issue then?
So you can walk away today with some actionable information, let’s look quickly at the free options that can get you started. To keep it simple, we’ll just look at the offerings from Google. You will need to have a Google account, which is real easy to set up, so don’t fret.
- Google News (RSS) – set up the keywords you want to monitor and get the results via RSS every day. While this will not cover the entire world (and nothing actually does), it will give you something more than you may be doing now
- Google Alerts – Don’t like RSS? Don’t know what RSS is? Then simply have updates e-mailed to you based on the keywords and phrases you want to monitor
- Google Blog Search – Use Google’s blog search to find out what the blogosphere is saying about you and your industry. Once you ID the blogs you want to follow, you can get their RSS or e-mail alerts sent to you
- Rumor Alert – Google is trying to get into the real-time search business by possibly offering a Microblogging Search service that will search the likes of Twitter. Not there yet, but the rumor mill is working.
So the bottom line is this. Whether you are a huge multinational company or a local mom-and-pop operation, the online conversation about your business is happening. It may be happening a little or a lot, but it is happening nonetheless. You can either plug your ears and ignore it (until it comes up and kicks you in the teeth), or you can put your toe in the water and at least listen to the marketplace. At least with this decision you are in complete control, but don’t complain if you chose to ignore the noise. It’s only going to get louder.