Remember when you were in school and it was so important about what people said about you?

Well, people are talking and they are now doing it using the social web: Blogs, social networks wiki’s, forums and videos. What this means to us is that there is a powerful conversation going on and what we do and how we do it can now be mainstream conversation in a couple of minutes. That’ why being part of the social conversation is key to creating and managing both positive and negative reviews of yourself or your services.

There are 3 measures involved with online reputation reputation management. According to expert Paul Chaney, author of DIGITAL HANDSHAKE, the 3 measures are:

SHARE of Voice, TONE of Voice and TRENDS over time:

Share of voice simply means; it is a measurement of how much and to what degree people are talking about you. For many small business owners or entrepreneurs it is often the case that nothing is being said. That’s almost as bad as if people are talking negatively. When that happens, it is vital that something be done to stimulate conversation.

Tone of voice. This is a gauge of whether the conversation is largely positive or negative and is often referred to as “sentiment analysis.” If the sentiment is positive, you want to reward those who speak well of you which will encourage them to do even more.If the tone is largely negative, you must get to the root of the problem, if, in fact, a problem exists. They key is: Fix the problem and the tone will likely change. If it’s misinformation that being spread about you… You must engage the critics and correct their misunderstanding.

The last on is Trends over time. What this means is that it is important to monitor both the share of voice and the tone over the course of time in order to see the effects of your advertising, marketing and PR efforts.

As challenging as this seems, there are key benefits associated with listening.

First, you are aware of a crisis long before it has an opportunity to escalate to a point where overcoming feedback becomes a costly or lengthy affair.

Secondly, you will know where the conversations are taking place, whether on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums, mainstream press, etc.. If you know where they conversation is happening, you’ll know where to go to respond.

Third, you will know what topics are being discussed and can learn how to become a resource. You might just get the opportunity to become the timely expert on an idea or situation that is just waiting to be turned into a campaign which you could never have discovered had you not been listening. This will help you become aware of keywords people are using with regard to yourself and your services – keywords you can incorporate into your Search Engine Optimization, Pay-Per_click or content marketing efforts.

And lastly, you will find who the real influencers are. Everybody’s voice matters, but some matter more then others. Once identified, you can begin building a relationship with them that may have them leveraging their influence on your behalf.

There are ways to monitor and manage your online reputation – you can do it yourself, or use software to help you.

It’s important to listen and to find out what’s being said, especially if it includes you! In every case it’s either critical to jumpstart the conversation, listen to what’s being said, and then manage and respond appropriately.

Customers are talking, whether you like it or not, and embedded in all that chatter is great information. Your job is to handle the feedback, then adjust your marketing and try to avoid the possible PR nightmares that might be brewing. When you are monitoring your online reputation, you can be active in damage control, but only if you are connected!

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