In this video interview, marketing expert Simon Heseltine explains how to protect your company's online reputation from negative comments from a disgruntled employee, an upset customer, mistakes your company has made, and even competitors.
Businesses, says Heseltine, must be actively looking for negative comments that people are saying about them online, and be ready to respond to them quickly.
First, monitor the social media to see if there are problems. This can be done through tools such as Google Alerts (free) and Trackur (modest fee). These will alert you immediately when any comments are made that include the keywords you specify -- either positive or negative.
Second, active preventively to provide good content that will rank high and fill up the first page of search results. This makes it much harder for any negative comments to bubble up to the first page of results and makes them much less visible if they occur. To dominate the search results for your company, however, you can put content just on your own site's domain name, since Google may group these together. Also put content on other prominent sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. It's a good idea to reserve name spaces on social media sites -- even if your customers are not found there -- to prevent future unauthorized use of people that might try to impersonate or hijack your name or brands. Also, link to positive or neutral comments about your company to to help increase their ranking so that they will show up on the first or second page of results.
Finally, be active now in any social media community where your customers tend to congregation and talk about your company. Then if a problem comes up, you'll already be a recognizable and trusted voice that will be taken seriously when you address issues honestly and forthrightly.
Simon Heseltine is the Principal Marketing Manager for the News and Information Division of AOL, Inc. This interview was recorded at the Search Engine Strategies Conference in Chicago, October 2010.