Guest Post by Rich Gorman
Your online reputation is worth its weight in gold - particularly if you are a business professional, a business owner, an elected official, or any other kind of public figure.
What do people find when they Google the name of your business?
If potential clients and customers online find positive information and glowing reviews, then you're in good shape -- but of course, that's not the way it works out all of the time.
Suppose the opposite is true. Someone Googles the name of your business, and they see one-star reviews, BBB complaints, scam accusations, or simply bad press. It's the easiest thing in the world for that potential customer to keep searching, and find another business with a better reputation.
Simple Steps for Measuring Your Reputation Online
All of that is to say simply that online reputation matters a great deal -- yet many professionals and public figures simply have no idea what their online reputation even is! The good news is that there are steps you can take to monitor your reputation, and know what people are saying about you on the Web...
This is definitely a case where knowledge is power; knowing your online reputation will let you know whether online reputation management tactics are in order.
What are the best reputation monitoring tools?
There are several resources online, such as Klout, FollowerWonk, and more -- but the best options may be the most basic ones...
Search Engines Come First
If you really want to know what people are saying about you on the Web, starting with the search engines is the best bet. Google, Bing, and Yahoo are the most invaluable allies you have in figuring out where you stand, online reputation-wise.
Conducting regular searches for yourself is something any business owner, working professional, or public figure should do.
Knowing how to search for yourself is important, however. You need to cast a wide net here. Say, for example, that you are an attorney in Reno, named Jeff Calhoun. You will want to conduct searches for terms like Jeff Calhoun, Jeff Calhoun Reno, Jeff Calhoun Attorney, Jeff Calhoun Nevada Lawyer, and so on. If you have a name that is commonly misspelled, you will want to search for all possible spelling variations. Basically, search for any terms people might use for trying to find you online.
And you don't have to stop with these simple, manual searches. It's also a great idea to set up Google alerts. This free service will ensure that you know when new blog entries or news releases come out, and make mention of you or your business.
What About Klout?
There is another tool, called Klout, that is increasingly prevalent in measuring online reputation. This isn't a simple monitoring tool; unlike regular Google searches, it won't tell you precisely what people are saying about you, per se, but rather it will measure your "influence" on the Web.
What Klout tells you about yourself is, essentially, threefold; its algorithm measures for how many people you influence; how much you influence them; and, how many people your network influences. The algorithm takes into account your social media accounts, and effectively quantifies your online reach and import.
The bottom line is that Klout is not quite a reputation monitoring device; it's not going to come right out and tell you that you have negative listings to respond to, for instance. It might be useful in helping you ascertain how effective your social media strategies are, however; indeed, Klout weighs Facebook and Twitter activity very heavily, so as an instrument for evaluating the efficacy of a brand's online strategy, Klout is hardly without its uses!
Other Useful Monitoring Tools
Of course, there are still other tools out there for measuring your reputation on the Web, many of them free. A Twitter-specific tool is called FollowerWonk, which helps you measure the reach of your Twitter account in terms of raw data, looking at organic growth and also allowing you to compare stats for multiple accounts -- something useful if you're trying to brand yourself to different online audiences.
There are other tools where that came from, too; PeopleBrowsr seeks to analyze your social media credibility, which it shorthands as "kred" -- a clear indicator that it's in competition with Klout, of course.
All of these tools are useful, and worth checking into -- but it's worth noting that they're more about evaluating the efficacy of your marketing strategies than conducting reputation monitoring, in a strict sense.
If you really just want to know what people are saying about you on the Internet, there is no substitute for the basic, free tools offered by Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
Knowing what's out there about you on the Web is the foundational step in any reputation management campaign -- and using the search engines to your advantage is one of the smartest things any business owner or public figure can do...
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Rich Gorman is a serial internet entrepreneur who has consulted with Tier-1 brands on a variety of issues such as online reputation management. Rich also works with companies and individuals to create reputation repair clearing plans, and is an acknowledged expert in the fields of direct and affiliate marketing.