Tauranga-based Mark Chapman from Attractum insists that companies (and individuals) need to monitor what people are saying about them online.
He is one of less than a half dozen people in New Zealand holding dual accreditation as a Google Adwords qualified individual and a Microsoft adExcellence member, so it is safe to say, after 21 years in the Internet services industry he knows his way around the Internet.
He arrived here from UK with two Masters Degrees in Internet-related subjects including an MBA based on his work on intranets, plus a CV that shows he was head of e-commerce service for AT&T in Europe, and later had clients including Nokia, Cambridge University and the UK Defence Research Agency.
“Your online reputation can be changed overnight,” he warns. “It is highly important to keep track of what people are saying about you so you can protect your brand and boost your reputation.
”We have never been so transparent in all of our history. Criticism and praise exists on a global basis.”
He says be careful what you write on the web. People may have different personas at work and at home, but they all can be linked back up into the company.
“Even if you protect your profile, your mates (contacts) might not, so someone can link through a friend’s name all the way back to you.”
He warns that young people are addicted to chatting online, and there is a real danger that they will bring this attitude through into the workplace and this could reflect on your company’s reputation.
Furthermore, anyone can start up a website or social media account in the name of your company and use it to write whatever they want about you or your business.
Companies should protect their name by acquiring as many account names as they can on the social media sites. You should own your names on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as a minimum
“There are over 340 social and bookmarking networks you could be part of. You can bookmark any website to your own social network and write what you like and it will be picked up by the search engines.
“Most companies are extremely naïve about social media. What are you going to do if someone grabs your name and starts writing about you? Would you be aware? You need to have tools to be able to monitor this.”
There are a large selection of websites including reputation.com who flood the web with positive stories about a company, thereby pushing the negative comment further down the Google search list, hopefully so far that no one will ever bother to look. However, Google will be watching for this approach and will undoubtedly ban its approach as they did with link and content creation farms a couple of months ago.
Another approach is to create multiple links to existing web pages to ensure they show up at the top of a Google search, but Mr Chapman says Google is trying to stop such “link and content creation farming”.
Mr Chapman says “the best approach is to be open and honest with people and start a dialogue with your clients using the social networks. If this is done correctly, you will improve and protect your reputation”. We help people create, monitor and manage their online reputations using social media.
Paul Dykes, BOP Times