"Christine Taylor Nude"…yes, I Googled myself. Unfortunately, I have the same name as the actress who played Marsha Brady on The Brady Bunch. Apparently a very nice person, but there must be some scandalous fake photos floating around out there. That is one reason I try to use my middle initial or middle name in most online profiles.
Depending on how many people (i.e., customers, vendors) you deal with and how well known your company/brand is, there may be a few or many people talking about you. Even if you’re a one-store tire dealer, you may be surprised at the amount of online conversations about you. More and more people are exchanging information via social media platforms such as Facebook, online forums, review services such as Yelp, and so on. And consumers are giving more and more credence to these online conversations as opposed to advertising messages. Think about it If you are considering what movie to see over the weekend, do you pay more attention to the newspaper ad or to what your friends say? The point is you need to know what is being said about you both good and bad.
The good news is, there are a number of free tracking tools that enable you to monitor your online reputation and quickly take necessary action. Most everyone is aware of Google Alerts, which does a good job of tracking media stories and some social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) activity, but there are many other tracking tools that focus strictly on social media. Here a few I recommend using:
1. Leapfish allows users to search all the major sites at once, including real-time social sites. See web, video, image, blog and news results, plus retail prices.
2. IceRocket searches blogs, websites, Twitter, MySpace, news, images, Big Buzz and API.
3. Social Mention searches user-generated content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos and microblogging services.
4. MonitorThis lets users search in 26 different search engine feeds at the same time, including blogs, microblogs and more.
5. BackType is a tool for monitoring blog comments. Whenever you write a comment with a link to your website, Backtype attributes it to you.
The obvious question is: What do you do when you pick up on an online comment about your company? The answer is usually pretty obvious. If someone is complimenting you, contact them and thank them; they will be impressed and will likely become a key advocate. Super-charge this positive word-of-mouth by posting their comment on your Facebook page (asking permission first, of course), Tweeting it, etc.
What if the comment is negative? I heard a great story yesterday from a Midas official. Seems that a customer Tweeted a negative comment about a Midas franchisee while still in the store. Midas picked up on it, alerted the franchise owner and the negative situation was turned into a positive before the person left the store. How cool is that?
In my next blog I’ll cover how to manage online rating services such as Yelp. In the meantime, start listening! This is one of the most valuable and least understood benefits of social media. People are talking about you whether you are involved or not. Wouldn’t you like to know what they are saying?
Christine Taylor is vice president of social media marketing for JTMarCom, a Nashville-based marketing agency that helps companies with online reputation management and integration of social media into their traditional marketing programs. With a combined 35 years of experience in the tire industry, the agency places a special emphasis on working with tire and automotive aftermarket companies. Follow Christine on Facebook and Twitter (@chrisgtaylor). She can also be reached at 615-714-5469.