Protect Your Reputation: Start by listening to what people are saying

Social media give satisfied and dissatisfied customers a tool to share their happiness or their pain with all of their connections or followers. Unhappy customers can start a fire storm on the internet, and woe be to the company that doesn’t respond quickly to fight the fire.

A recent example is Target. One of their dresses was offered in the color gray, with the standard size labeled “dark heather gray”, and the plus size of the same dress labeled “manatee gray”. Have you ever seen a manatee ? Not exactly a positive image. An alert shopper (as Dave Barry would say) noticed and called them out on it. People started sharing the post.

Target responded quickly, apologizing to the shopper and explaining that “manatee gray” is a seasonal color at Target. Many¬†different products¬†in their stores are manatee gray, and many different sizes of clothing for men and women. The problem occurred when the seasonal color label was not applied consistently to that particular dress. They promised to change the color quickly, and they did.

The moral of the story is to watch the internet for comments about your company, brand, or product, and respond quickly to negative (and positive) comments.

Inc. Magazine listed six ways to watch for posts that affect your company:

1. Google (and Bing) searches

2. Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts). Enter a key word or phrase, tell Google what kind of search you want and how often you want to be notified. Create as many alerts as you need.

3. Glassdoor (http://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm) is a place where current and former employees can post comments anonymously about your company. According to Inc., Glassdoor offers a free employer account to track comments. Check it out.

4. Social Mention (http://www.socialmention.com/). “Like Google Alerts but for social media”. Covers blogs, Twitter, bookmarks, comments, events, images, news, and video.

5. Rankur (http://www.rankur.com) offers a free option that tracks news posts, blog posts, and social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Google+), and a “basic” paid option that adds monitoring of online reviews. More expensive options with more features are also available.

6. ViralHeat (http://www.viralheat.com) is a paid service (14-day free trial) that monitors Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, blogs, and web sites, and lets you apply the tools to analyze competitors.

Choose the tools that work for you, and productively track the online comments that are important to you.

Fast forward a year – will Target’s spring gray color still be “manatee gray” or maybe something more sleek like “dolphin gray” ?

To see the complete Inc. magazine article, go to http://www.inc.com/hollis-thomases/6-free-or-low-cost-ways-to-track-and-protect-your-online-reputation.html