What people say about your organization can either bolster or erode your brand reputation, especially in the digital media landscape.
Where an organization’s announcement or tweet can go viral in a matter of minutes, more PR pros are tapping into monitoring their organizations’ online reputations—including communicators of smaller organizations.
A recent Clutch report of small business PR pros revealed that 88 percent monitor their organizations’ online reputations at least every quarter, with many aiming to be more proactive in 2019.
Two-thirds of small business PR pros use social media to keep tabs on their organizations’ reputations. However, social media channels aren’t the only place people can talk about your organization.
Nearly half (48 percent) of communicators who use social media to monitor reputation also use at least one other digital platform to track brand sentiment and overall reputation online, with the most popular including Google search results and consumer reviews on sites such as Yelp or Amazon.
Each of these platforms has a different set of benefits and limitations. Social media allows for real-time conversation about your brand and control over what content appears on your brand’s page.
Review sites highlight people’s perception of your small business and Google search results show how relevant your brand is online. You can’t control the content on these platforms which is why it’s important to monitor them.
Tools that monitor brand reputation and consumer sentiment such as Hootsuite and Google Alerts are plentiful, but don’t worry that these resources will replace your PR expertise: Clutch reported that 44 percent of small businesses use only human resources, in comparison to only 26 percent citing that they use only digital tools.
The best monitoring and reputation management strategy is to combine PR pros’ skill sets with the proper resources. Organizations require communicators’ expertise to understand the data gathered and then make campaign adjustments based on that information.
Although digital resources, such as social listening software, gather and consolidate useful information, they can’t act on the information they collect.
“Digital tools provide the information that needs to be interpreted, but people, whether an agency like ours or someone in-house, become responsible for managing the information these tools collect,” said Ken Wisnefski, CEO of WebiMax, a reputation management agency.
As more than half (54 percent) of smaller organizations rely on their in-house employees, this becomes increasingly important. Only 27 percent turn to PR firms or online reputation management agencies.
Organizations’ dependence on PR experts is even more important when there’s a limited budget to spend on tools and services that can ensure the brand puts their best foot forward.
If you’re a PR pro tasked with monitoring reputation, yet lack access to resources, start by gathering data using free tools. These include Google Alerts, which monitor the internet for mentions of your organization or certain keywords and key phrases; Go Fish Digital’s Complaint Search, which gathers critics’ words from more than 40 websites; and Mention’s Brand Grader, which gives you an overview of how your online reputation is faring online.
Don’t forget to conduct your own searches of your organization to see what pops up.
Influencermarketinghub.com recommends conducting an incognito Google search of your organization (at the very least, ensure you’re not signed into an account on your browser).
It argues that you should divide the results of the search into four categories:
- Negative – The result is about you and does not show you in a positive light. Naturally, any court reports and media reports on crimes will appear here, but there are many other types of negative search results. They could be rants from your ex-partners. There could be negative social comments from unhappy customers. They may be a “mistake” from your past – the tagged Facebook photo of you streaking in your university days, or lying comatose with penises drawn on you after a youthful drinking binge. They might even be a false and nasty allegation from somebody you have upset.
- Neutral – results that neither hurt nor help your reputation. They might be your position in a school athletics race, a review of a football game you once played, or a reference to you being a member of a local club.
- About somebody else– if you are searching for your personal name there is a high likelihood that you will encounter results for people who have the same name as you. This is less likely for a business, but there will still be cases for firms with more generic names. For example, if US web developer Castle was to Google their name, they will find that their search results would be dominated by references to the Castle television show
- Positive and helpful– hopefully, you will see positive content that shows you in a good light
Once you’ve gathered the data, you can organize and analyze it for insights, which is crucial for strategic decisions and reporting to executives.
How are you monitoring your organization’s reputation online, PR Daily readers?