Guest Post: Four Tips on Monitoring Your Business Reputation

Today's guest post is from Maria Rainier. She is a freelance writer and self-proclaimed blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, which does research on online degree programs.

She has decided to conjure up four tips on how one can monitor and improve their business' reputation quickly and easily.

Enjoy!

I believe congratulations are in order—you’ve established yourself as an entrepreneur at least on some level and are now contemplating social media monitoring to make sure your business reputation is squeaky clean. Sweeping the web for criticism either positive or negative can be daunting; no one wants to hear they’ve done wrong. Still, listening to the wind for what the public thinks of your product or service is essential in improving your business and thereby income. Here are some steps to get you started.

Begin With the End in Mind

As an entrepreneur, you must have a goal practically written in ink: What is your product or service, what is it intended to achieve, and to what end? You had this goal in mind when you began your business—you must also keep it in mind when you monitor what people are saying about your business. Are your goals being met? If not, why? What can you do to keep your goal alive?

Likewise, when you go out into the great big yonder listening for your brand in the wind, you must have a goal. Gossip in business does more damage (and good) than it ever did in high school. Rather than going into social media monitoring unarmed, go with a list of things you wish to achieve through monitoring. Are you hoping to find what Facebook users think of your product? Do you think one of your employees is inappropriately Twittering office updates? Is your marketing campaign going anywhere? How can you know if your journey is leading to success if you don’t know what success (your goal) look like?

DIY Monitoring

Rather than outsourcing your reputation to a specialist or marketing firm and spending mountains of money on nothing, undergo this venture yourself. Monitoring within your business allows the process to be more intimate and for you to learn quickly and most effectively what’s swimming around your brand. You get to find out for yourself what your weaknesses are instead of having the information funneled through a third party, which may or may not opt to take your money and blow smoke rings in your face.

To this end, know that there are free tools online that let you monitor your reputation. Google Alerts, Twitter Search, and Social Mention are only a few, but they’re not the only free tools at your disposal. They don’t do everything premium services can do for you, but think of it this way: most free versions of Wordpress and anti-virus software do the same thing as paid versions do. The latter just have a few more toys (which you don’t absolutely need, especially since you’re DIY-ing this). Unless you’re Microsoft, you don’t need a premium service.

If you feel that these free tools aren’t enough later, you can always convert to a paid social media monitoring dashboard. The point is that since you’re just starting to monitor your reputation, you’ll want to figure out if you can do it for free rather than not. Don’t get too eager to withdraw from the company account just yet.

Know What to Look For

Although your prime search keywords will vary according to your established company and social media monitoring goals, your basic ones will be your brand name, trademark, slogans, and known company employees. You’ll learn whether or not and to what degree people know about the aforementioned keywords and what they’re saying about them. Alternatively, you might also find out what your employees are saying about the company. It’s a dirty business, but somebody’s got to be the watchdog and keep internal affairs internal.

What to Do When You’ve Found What You’re Looking For

As you garner gossip about your business, it’s up to you what to do with it. This is one of the benefits of keeping the monitoring in-house—you get to deal with it yourself. Because you yourself may be swamped with waves of information, however, it’s important to have someone to whom you can relay the information who can then relay it to appropriate employees. Establish a sort of chain of command and process for social media monitoring, and don’t let the data bottleneck in one spot, where the information you’ve worked so hard to gather will rot. Use the data and improve your product and service. In time, ask yourself if your product or service has actually improved, and how quickly—if at all—the public is responding to changes. Are problems being solved, kinks being unraveled, benefits being lauded? Self- and business-improvement should have had some place in your ink-set goals earlier in the process; just make sure that it’s happening.

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching areas of online degree programs. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.