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Managing Your Reputation

Reputation Management
By Sharon Housley

A company's reputation is often critical to that company's success. The anonymity and vastness of the Internet makes managing a reputation much more difficult than it once was. Businesses must be proactive about protecting their brands and reputations.

Brand Hijacking
Brand Hijacking refers to the act of someone other than authorized company personnel using the company brand as if they represent that brand. Unfortunately, brand hijacking is becoming increasingly more common in social media and on social networks. One of the best ways to minimize brand hijacking, while not foolproof, is to register the company brand and product names in all the social media channels, before anyone else has the opportunity to do so.

In order to check the availability of brands in the various social channels, you can use the following tools:

NameChk - http://www.namechk.com/
CheckUserNames - http://www.checkusernames.com/
UserNamez - http://www.usernamez.com/

Unfortunately, some nefarious people are getting around this by simply adding an underscore to a brand name (i.e. "_brandname"). Registering a brand this way gives the appearance that they represent the brand. If this occurs, most social websites will disable the offending account when they are notified of the issue. Many social networks are adding verification by requiring valid email addresses to help slow down brand hijacking. You can then create accounts on the social networks that secure your brand.

Consumer Complaints
The Internet has made it easier than ever to publicize complaints and short-comings of a company or a product. Now, any sort of "dirty laundry" can easily be aired publicly with just a few clicks, whether it be factual or not. Websites have been established specifically for the purpose of consumer complaints. Consumers are able to post complaints about products they feel are inferior, or services they feel are lacking.

Examples of such websites include:
RipOffReport - http://www.ripoffreport.com/
Complaints Board - http://www.complaintsboard.com/

It is critical that companies control the search results for their company name and brand. The last thing you want is for a complaint about your company or product to appear higher than your company's website listing in the search results. Use standard search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to ensure that your website dominates the top search results for brand names.

Monitor Your Brand
Use custom ego feeds to monitor the online discussions. The feeds will update whenever your product or brands are mentioned online. Ego feeds allow companies to monitor blogs and online news sources for specific keywords. Knowing what is being said about your company and products, and when it is being said, will allow you to respond to such things in a timely and professional manner. For more information about ego feeds, see:

Ego Feeds - http://www.feedforall.com/ego-searches.htm

When you encounter a mention of your products or services that casts a negative implication, try not to let anger or emotion dictate how you respond. Always behave professionally when providing responses, and always try to offer solutions and assistance. This can often be instrumental in changing the public perception about your company brand when problems arise. Your reputation is important, so be proactive!

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com audio recording and editing software.

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This article may be used freely in opt-in publications and websites, provided that the resource box is included and the links are active. A courtesy copy of the issue or a link to any online posting would be greatly appreciated send an email to sharon@notepage.net .

Additional articles available for publication available at http://www.small-business-software.net/free-website-content.htm

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