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Online Reputation Management

Regardless of your profession you can find yourself the subject of bad publicity.  This is especially true if you conduct business online.  The internet makes giving feedback on your real life experiences such a simple task that if one person is unhappy in their dealings with you they can easily do major damage to your reputation by broadcasting online.  Sadly, more people feel the need to vent their frustrations than to sing praises for a job well done, so it is likely that you may encounter this situation at some time in your online business dealings.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of less than stellar feedback or bad publicity you will have to choose whether to simply ignore it or act upon it.  That decision will depend upon where the negative feedback has been left and how accessible that information is to the general public, as well as the source.

The best practice in dealing with negativity online is to avoid it.  That can be accomplished by having a Online Reputation Management, or ORM, in place before it happens.  The negative comments may not even be your own fault.  Consider a bidding war between you and a competitor.  You both make bids on a project and you are awarded the job.  The losing party goes online, poses as a customer, and bad mouths your business.  It can, and does, happen.  What’s worse is that without a solid ORM in place, it could be weeks or longer before you are even aware that the negative publicity exists, and there is no way to measure how much business you lost as a result.

There are several services that you can sign up for that will do the leg work for you and keep you from having to spend countless hours monitoring online social networks for bad news.  Blog monitoring is available through BackType Blog Comments Monitoring, Blog Pulse, Technorati, and Google Blog Search.  These services will allow you to track key words (such as your name or business name) and will alert you anytime someone mentions those terms.

Twitter is a popular social media service that allows people around the world to instantly update what they are doing in real-time.  Monitter, Tweet Later, Tweet Beep, and Twitter Search are services much like the blog alert services.  They allow you to quickly and easily see who is talking about you online.

Generally speaking, anytime someone airs negative commentary about you or your business, they will include a link to your website so that others can beware.  Link monitoring is available through several service providers including BackTweets and WhoLinkstoMe.  You can also use services like Google Alerts, Board Tracker, MonitorThis, Naymz, Purewire Trust, and Yasni to keep up to date and be alerted when someone uses your name, links, or business name online.

While it may take a little extra time to set up these services, once the sign up process is complete you will have little to worry about.  Updates will be emailed to you and a quick glance through the emails will provide the insurance that you need to protect your reputation online.