Managing your online reputation isn’t just about ensuring you have registered all the appropriate social media accounts and URLs for your name. As well as preventing people from using your name online in social media accounts and URLs as far as possible, you also need to:
- Listen to what people are saying about you online
- Create a strong profile, using the social media accounts and URLs you have registered
- Repair any damage caused by people abusing your name online
This post briefly looks at how to listen out for when people are using your name.
Monitor the web
The first thing you need to do is to monitor when people use your name (or your company name or brand names). It is very simple to set up a Google alert that will email you when Google finds someone using your name. You shouldn’t rely on this though. Google isn’t perfect and may miss some mentions. It’s sensible to set up an alert using another tool like Yahoo. Alternatively simply use another search engine such as Bing on a regular basis (say once a week) as an extra check.
Remember to set your searches up for appropriate variations of your name: I have alerts for jswinfengreen, “j swinfen green”,” j swinfen-green”, “jeremy swinfen green” and “jeremy swinfen-green” (my fault for having a silly name). You can also include your twitter handles such as @jswinfengreen.
Google allows various options when setting up your alerts such as how often they are delivered. You may want to consider selecting “All results” rather than the default “Only the best results”.
It is also sensible to use a dedicated social listening tool to search for mentions of your name on social media. There are plenty of free tools. I particularly like SocialMention but there are dozens of others. SocialMention does have an Alert facility although it is disabled at the time of writing.
Note that the social media tools (especially the free ones) are generally less comprehensive than the big search engines so you will get a different and probably much smaller set of results. But they will be results from social media which may be useful as it can be easier to manage comments in the social media space than in the wider web. If you want to be more certain of who has mentioned you on social media then you will need to go to each platform and search: a useful exercise on Twitter and YouTube ( where it is just a simple search) as well as LinkedIn (search for Posts) but less so on Facebook which will not show you posts where your name is mentioned.
Once you have pulled out the relevant results, perhaps those where people are being unpleasant about you or your brands, you should start to identify the themes that reoccur. For instance if you work for a motor manufacturer (let’s call them “Supa Carz”) and people are complaining about the breaks failing you will want to monitor that closely and make sure you don’t miss any instances of a complaint that you need to respond to.
In this case you will want to set up alerts for things like Supa Carz breaks failure as well as more general alerts such as Supa Carz sucks.
Note that if you are paying for a social media listening tool you may still need to search the web for mentions of your name or brand because not all tools will monitor sites beyond the main social media platforms. This means that mentions in online communities like mumsnet may get missed.
A change in sentiment can be a signal for an approaching problem. So it also makes sense to monitor this. Doing this well takes time but if you just want an indication of sentiment then simply use the free sentiment measure on SocialMention or Coosto (shown below).
Don’t fool yourself
The search engine you use will typically customise the results it shows you depending on your previous behaviour. This means that you may not see the same set of results for a brand that I see. This can be a problem: perhaps it means that you are seeing a set of results on the first couple of pages that are favourable to you: because you are always checking out your social media pages, your blog and your website these come up at the top of the list of links you are shown.
But, because I rarely if ever check your social media pages out, I may see other links at the top of my list of results. And some of these may be damaging to your reputation.
Because of this, it is a good idea to make sure that “personalised search” is disabled when you search for your name. There are several ways of doing this but the simplest is to toggle between the two buttons found to the right of “Search tools” and the left of the Options “cog” to see or hide personalised results for a particular search.
Listening isn’t enough
If you are not listening you won’t be able to manage your reputation online. But listening is not enough. You will also need to create a robust profile so that your name appears linked to positive content such as your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. And you will need to know what actions to take should someone start damaging your reputation online. More on that shortly.