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Do you know what people are saying about you on the Web?

Larry Stopa
by Larry Stopa on Nov 18, 2010 4:23:00 PM

Do you know what people are saying about you on the Web?

It's easy to find out. You can use Google Alerts or WhosTalkin to track when your business or brand is discussed. Those free tools read content across the Web -- Ratings and Reviews Websites, Facebook, Twitter, Social Networks, YouTube, Forums, Blogs along with their comments, articles, press releases and Websites. With these tools, you can learn what customers are saying about their experiences with your company and its products.

What you do after you find out what your market is saying about you is important.

Your audience's comments tell you what you are doing well and help you identify what you need to improve. This is invaluable customer insight that a focus group or a survey cannot reproduce. If people feel strongly enough to comment, you need to give their thoughts serious consideration.

What do you do when a customer levels you with heavy criticism?

Often the first instinct is to deny that there was a problem. You may want to create some persona or hire an outside firm to post comments that your brand is the best thing since sliced bread with Door County cherry jam on top. That is not an effective way to respond. Many will see through the subterfuge. More important, the negative review will not be addressed.

What happens if someone posts a negative comment to your Blog? Should you delete it or allow it to be online? Again your first instinct will be to kill it. But don't. Others may have the same perception. Instead, address the comment. In the process, you can build trust. The only time you should delete a negative comment is if it is defamatory toward others, vulgar or offers inaccurate or unrelated information.

Take the negative comments as opportunities that you are listening and care about your customers. Everyone recognizes that sometimes products do not work right or clothes do not fit. Keep that reality in mind and prepare an official response to the negative comment. Apologize for not meeting customer expectations. Offer to correct the problem. Provide customer service contact information. Explain that as much as your business strives to make every customer happy, sometimes things go wrong. Stress that your business stands behind its products and will do what it takes to deliver customer satisfaction. Future customers that read your response because they will know that if something goes wrong, you will make it right. This strategy will build confidence with prospective buyers.

Your brand loyalists may also step up and respond with suggestions or solutions. They love your products and want others to love them as well. Once you've solved the problem, positive comments are likely to follow.

What if someone posts inaccurate information?

The Web is notorious for being filled with bad information. When someone makes inaccurate claims about your business, you need to correct that information. False impressions, even false positive impressions, can hurt you in the long-run.

Reputation Management on the Web is not something you can neglect. You need to use tools to monitor what is being said, and to join in the conversation when appropriate.

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Larry Stopa
Written by Larry Stopa
Since establishing E-Power Marketing® in 1998, Larry has grown it to become a highly successful business focused on generating the results that impact our clients' bottom line. Larry oversees all client programs, new business initiatives and leads the team to continued growth and ongoing education.

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