Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Engaging in Social Media - Optional or Mandatory?

Most businesses and professionals are either engaged in social media or debating whether to start. For those who don't wish to actively participate in social media, ignoring it may not be an option - at least not a good one!

Engaging in social media stops being optional when we are mentioned by customers, competitors or other professionals in any of the online forums available. That is especially true if that mention is negative or simply not the way we wish to be perceived. Managing a reputation online should (must?) be a part of any professional or business marketing strategy.

This was brought home to me when one of our less technically sophisticated clients received a negative review on Yelp. They came to us as their technology providers asking for a way to have the offending comment removed. (The short review said the office was nice enough but tried to "push" expensive services not needed by the reviewer.) After explaining why we wouldn't be able to remove the offending review we helped the client set up a mini-social media blitz with positive reviews from customers. It was pretty simple to generate enough buzz from their customers to drown out the single negative review in the search engines.

This client will not be engaged in creating content for a blog or even Twitter or Facebook, but will continue to encourage their clientele to submit reviews online.  

Another reason to at least establish social media accounts is to ensure that no one else can use your identity in the major social media hubs. I had no idea how many Michael Boys were out there until Facebook and Twitter. Nor was I familiar with the photographer with whom I share a name famous for his photos of young, naked women.

Twitter has shut down accounts simply because someone else has a domain name identical to a Twitter account name. Most businesses probably need a stable of domain names and social media IDs to prevent others from cyber-squatting, or using a name identified with someone else or their business.    

Here are some FREE sites to help track mentions and reputations on the Internet:

  • Google AlertsProbably the best-known way to track mentions on the Internet. Create as many alerts as needed for an individual name, company name, social media handle etc. Alerts can be via email, text or feed. 
  • Addict-o-matic - no feed or alert support, but complete results. 
  • Social Mention - includes email alerts as well as ranking/analysis of searched phrases.
  • Yasni - includes email alerts and a widget to place on websites.
  • Pipl - includes public record searches.
  • Spy - limited source search.
  • Username Check - determines availability of an entered user name for about 68 sites. 
  • BackType - another tool. 

Tracking social media reputation need not be a time consuming task, and domain names can be purchased and held. In the era of social media and the Internet, where some say privacy is dead, this is simply a new cost of doing business.

You should follow me on Twitter here. Call or text me at 1-949-212-2168 and visit On-Site Technical Solutions.

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