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Six Free Tools for Online Reputation Management

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Online reputation management consists of tracking your brand and reacting when necessary.

Though sometimes tedious, brand monitoring can save you from a potential disaster when someone cites your name in an article that misrepresents you. Aside from protection, it can help you proactively join conversations around your topic area, helping to get your brand name out there.

It's almost 2009... and if you aren't active online you are missing valuable opportunities to advertise your value to the world—through articles, blog entries, social-network profiles, comments, videos and more.

As both a content producer and consumer, your name is being spread throughout each of these circuits by people you might not even know. In fact, research firm IDC finds that there is more content being created about you than you create yourself.

Part of your brand is in the hands of others, so it's critical that you monitor it before a flame becomes a forest fire.


Do you know what people are saying about you?

If you want to know how to track your presence and monitor your brand, then you are in luck. Below are the top 6 tools for your online reputation management program. They can be used for product and corporate brands in addition to your personal brand. Use each to search, locate and respond when necessary.

Also, they can be leveraged as part of your marketing strategy, to discover your audience and market to them directly.

1. GoogleGoogle.com/alerts 

  • Definition: Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results based on your choice of query or topic. You can subscribe to each alert through email and RSS.
  • Application: Many people use their RSS readers to view these alerts, and PR agencies use alerts to track their campaigns. You can monitor a news story, keep current with your industry and competitors, and see who is writing about you, all at the same time.
  • Marketing strategy: Set a comprehensive alert, notifying you of stories, as they happen, for your name, your topic, and even your company. As your feed reader fills up with articles that match your query, you should start a database of bloggers and journalists so that you can market to them directly and form better relationships.

2. Blog posts—Technorati.com

  • Definition: If you have a blog, then you have to be on Technorati, which is the largest blog search engine in the world. When you register with it, Technorati tracks "blog reactions," or blogs that link to yours.
  • Application: Search for your name on Technorati, and subscribe to RSS alerts so that when someone blogs about you, you find out.
  • Marketing strategy: Use Technorati to log every blog that is linking to your own. Keep track of these blogs, and when you write your next post link to them. Doing so will give recognition to those who have recognized yours.

3. Blog comments—backtype.com

  • Definition: Recently, a new service came out to solve the problem of monitoring blog comments. Think about it, someone can comment on you on a series of blogs, but if you only track posts you'll really miss out. BackType is a service that lets you find, follow, and share comments from across the Web. Whenever you write a comment with a link to your Web site, BackType attributes it to you.
  • Application: Use backtype.com to remind yourself where you commented, discover influencers who are commenting on blogs that you should be reading, and continue conversations that you started previously.
  • Marketing strategy: Establish a list of key influencers in your topic area. Then follow their comments from blog to blog and leave your own comment after theirs. This will help build your brand by association.

4. Discussion boards—boardtracker.com

  • Definition: Along with blogs and traditional news stories, discussion boards are another channel where people can gather in a community and talk about you. Most people disregard discussion boards until they see other sites commenting on information viewed on them.
  • Application: Use boardtracker.com to get instant alerts from threads citing your name.
  • Marketing strategy: Find all boards that are related to your subject matter and join the top 2-5, based on the amount of conversations and the volume of registered users. Join the communities by starting threads, while leaving your name and URL at the end of each post.

5. Twitter—search.twitter.com

  • Definition: Twitter is a microblogging service, hosting over three million people. Twitter messages (tweets) move at the speed of light, and if you don't catch them they will spread like a virus.
  • Application: Using Twitter search, you can locate any instances of your name and tweet back (or remain silent).
  • Marketing strategy: As you see tweets with your name attached to them, you should use the "@" sign and the tweeter's account name (e.g., @danschawbel) to respond accordingly. As you respond, you start to build brand recognition and your audience feels that you care and are actively listening.

6. FriendFeed—friendfeed.com/search

  • Definition: FriendFeed is a social aggregator. You have the ability to take all of your social accounts, such as YouTube, Delicious, Twitter, blog, and Flickr, and pull them together into a single (Friend) feed.
  • Application: You can conduct searches on your brand throughout all social networks at once using this search engine. Aside from learning about the latest video or tweet related to your topic, you can analyze comments that people make under them.
  • Marketing strategy: Grab a FriendFeed widget (friendfeed.com/embed/widget) and display it on your Web site or blog, so people get a sense of your social media activity. Also, as you search and locate people who are talking about your brand on FriendFeed, respond to them through comments.

All six of these free tools can be used to monitor and market your company's brand name as well.

If you aren't taking care of your online reputation, others will. It's time to find out what people are saying—and do something about it. Marketing to your audience becomes seamless after you've done your homework using these tools.


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Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He's also the author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success and Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future. Reach him at dan.schawbel@gmail.com.

Twitter: @DanSchawbel.

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  • by StorePromoter Tue Oct 14, 2008 via web

    Great and informative article!
    thebestwebdirectory.com is a great directory to increase your online presence.

  • by Martin Edic Tue Oct 14, 2008 via web

    Techrigy offers a free version of our SM2 social media monitoring tools that not only tracks all the sources you mention in one place but also includes extensive analysis tools including sentiment, gender, age, location, authority ranking, etc.

  • by Ana-Marie Jones Tue Oct 14, 2008 via web

    Love articles like this - concise, easy, useful. Like the DAM format (Definition, Application, Marketing Strategy) - makes it so easy to pick the most relevant bits. Thanks!

  • by Melanie Baker Thu Oct 16, 2008 via web

    As an additional, aggregating step (and, yeah, self-promotion), our tools at AideRSS (http://aiderss.com) analyze these and other sites'/apps' content to determine overall audience engagement with content, companies, etc.

    To use the above approach...

    Definition: AideRSS uses PostRank technology (http://postrank.com/postrank.html) to filter and rank any kind of RSS-enabled online content.

    Application: Competitive analysis of what others' are saying/posting, content analysis to determine styles/topics of interest, and general information management.

    Marketing Strategy: Web-based analysis (http://aiderss.com - have a new site beta out, too), Google Reader extension (http://gr.aiderss.com) for subscription management, best posts widget (http://blog.aiderss.com/widgets/) to showcase publishers' "greatest hits" content to the audience.

  • by AP Fri Oct 17, 2008 via web

    Great resources. A proactive strategy I like to use with rep management is building a blog with your brand name as part of the domain name (free options include Wordpress and Blogger).

    This blog gives you another web property where you can control the dialogue and information to ensure you shed positive light on your company and you can occupy another spot on the first page of the search engine results page.

  • by Joe Buhler Tue Oct 21, 2008 via web

    These are great resources, however, in my industry, travel & tourism the companies are often small and do not have the staff resources to utilize these tools effectively and track their reputation as well as how to effectively respond when necessary.

    They need outside advice by someone who understands their industry and how the public uses social media tools such as Trip Advisor.

  • by Joe Pete Wed Oct 22, 2008 via web

    Another resource is Ormny or http://www.ormny.com - they are giving away a free online reputation report. They have a lot of good information on their website.

  • by Martin Edic Thu Oct 23, 2008 via web

    Joe Buhler,
    Try the free version of SM2 (techrigy)- it should work fine for smaller travel-related searches.

  • by Jeff Tomlin Mon Oct 27, 2008 via web

    These individual tools are great and should all be used. But monitoring what is going on can be difficult. We have a reputation management tool that will be out in private beta shortly called StepRep. Sign up to participate as a tester if interested: http://www.myfrontsteps.com/steprep/

  • by Julie Weishaar Thu Jan 7, 2010 via web

    Thanks for the well-written and valuable article. I wasn't aware of a few of the tools you suggested and appreciate your sharing.

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