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“A 2% reduction in negative word of mouth boosts sales growth by 1%”

  • London School of Economics and Political Science, “Advocacy Drives Growth” Study


If you are an active participant in today’s social media circles, you NEED to be monitoring and managing your reputation.  I’m not talking about your street rep (the kind that keeps you from getting mugged by a rival gang), but your online rep (the kind that keeps your company and your name shielded from mudslingers).  As shown in the London School of E&PL’s Word - of - Mouth study, mismanagement of your online reputation has the potential to devastate not only your image, but also your sales rate and company growth.  Thankfully, there is a bevy of web-based tools, both free and paid, that can assist you in your rep tracking. 


“Reputation Management” may strike fear in your heart and conjure dollar signs in your eyes, but rest assured that you can effectively track and manage your web rep without paying for anything.  How, you may ask?  Well, as David Salvato comments, “Free tools are the best tools when powered by Google.”


1. Google Alerts/Google Reader, and Google Blog Search


If it was deemed socially acceptable in a business setting, I would have ‘Google’ tattooed on my forehead in full color.  Unfortunately I would probably lose my job so I’ll have to be content with directing readers to use Google’s array of rep management tools.  Firstly, be sure to set up Google Alerts for yourself.  These keyword searches are completely free and are delivered to you as they are indexed by, you guessed it, Google.  The easiest way to organize and view your Alerts is to send them directly to your Google Reader, as opposed to routing them into an email inbox.  Here is a list of keywords to get you started:



  • Company & Product name
    • Also track variations thereof, for example “Company X has terrible service”, “Company X is fantastic”, and so on
  • Employee names
  • Website Keywords
    • Check your website analytics to see which keywords are generating the most traffic
  • Competitor names


Setting up your Reader to the best of its potential can be a pill; check out this preso from Ian Lurie for an easy-to-follow walkthrough.  Another great tool to familiarize yourself with is Google’s Blog Search.  As opposed to the basic Google Search, Blog Search scours blogs, forums, and comments to deliver results per the keywords you request.


2. StepRep


In the same vein as Google Blog Search, StepRep delivers search results per the keywords you dictate, and files them according to your response.  This means that every search result you receive will be filed in your “Reputation Monitor” within either the “Positive”, “Negative”, or “Not Relevant” folders.  StepRep will oftentimes deliver pages that Google Alerts miss.  They also provide a website widget you can embed in your blog or site that features an easily-updated list of the StepRep results you want to promote.




Between these two tools you will have eyes on almost every mention of your brand and your competitors indexed across the world wide web.  Keep in mind though, that beyond simply tracking your online reach it is imperative that you constantly produce good content. Reputation management ties directly into social networking best practices.  If you are posting regularly on your blog and syndicating your content to as many sources as possible, you will increase your reputation, be it positive or negative.  If you are active on Twitter and like-minded ‘live interaction’ platforms, you will affect your rep.  If you are responding positively to comments and linking out to sources and working on your SEO and…the list goes on and on. Basically, if you are following the guidelines and suggestions set out by successful social media marketers you will be effectively managing your web rep.  By producing as much positive content as you can muster, you will eventually smother the negative content nipping at your heels.  One of the best ways to do this is syndicate your content to a multitude of sources; of course, this means that you need to set up a multitude of profiles/blogs in as many places as you can.  This sort of ‘spider-web’ network increases SEO as well, since you now have 20 blog posts linking back to “”, as opposed to just 3 or 4.


So now you know how easy (and FREE!) it really is to manage your online reputation.  The tools I have listed above are free or charge, easy to use, and extremely effective for both corporations and individuals.  If you would rather not use the tools mentioned above, check here, here, and here for more ideas.  Remember that it is best to approach negative feedback with a customer-centric mindset; don’t fall into the trap of hoping it will just go away on its own.  Take the proactive approach: deal with the problem and then bury it under a mountain of positive web content.  And always remember that cultivating a good reputation is tied directly to your social networking efforts.  If you are truly transparent in your networking efforts, your good reputation will make itself.


Comments (17)

"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


Great reminder for us to put forth the effort to manage it. You have no idea what I go through with the initials TLW on my Google Alerts. Google it yourself if you're curious :) 


Nov 09, 2009 09:01 AM
Emily Lowe
The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty - Nashville, TN
Nashville TN Realtor

Interesting comment by TLW - I am going to have to google it also.  But anyway, thank you for putting that out there.  I will be able to make sure that "it's all good" out there on the internet about me.  I try to only post positive comments and not put out too much negativity, but there have been days when I have slipped up!!!  Congrats on the feature!

Nov 09, 2009 09:03 AM
Bill Ladewig - Escondido, CA
Experience Is Your Advantage

Austin, good information, we must be alert to our on-line reputations but also be careful not to write ANYWHERE on the Internet anything we would not be proud to be read 10 or 20 years from now.  What happens on the Internet, stays on the Internet. 

Nov 09, 2009 09:10 AM
Charlie Arthur, CCIM
RE/MAX FIRST, INC. - Port Townsend, WA

Very interesting stuff.

Good luck in the business.  All the best.

Nov 09, 2009 09:17 AM
Austin Smith
Goomzee - Missoula, MT

Haha TLW - I got two choices when I Googled "The Lovely Wife": either you or Jennifer Aniston.  That's high praise coming from an inanimate search engine! ;)


Emily - Thank YOU for commenting!  We all have our days, but as long as the positive outweighs the negative you should be ok.  Good luck!


Bill - so very true.  There is no escaping the 'long arm of Google'.  Thanks for the comment!


RE/MAX Man - And to you as well.

Nov 09, 2009 09:40 AM
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Austin -- I do this everyonce in a while, and so far so good, I should automate things.

Nov 09, 2009 10:18 AM
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth

Austin, great points. Many don't think twice about managing their online reputation, yet what goes out there does indeed "stick."

Nov 09, 2009 12:11 PM
Steve, Joel & Steve A. Chain
Chain Real Estate Investments & Mortgage, Steve & Joel Chain - Cottonwood, CA

Austin, Thanks I've been meaning to set some alerts on our google analytics.

Nov 09, 2009 01:55 PM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Austin, I just wrote a post about StepRep last week. It has been fascinating to see what it picks up vs. Google. It is mostly comments that go to outside blogs. So even though AR comments have 'no follow' it is not so once they go to the outside blog.

Nov 09, 2009 02:20 PM
William James Walton Sr.
WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group - Waterbury, CT
Greater Waterbury Real Estate

I'll have to try setting up my Google alerts to go to the reader and not to my gmail account (which I rarely use, if ever). But the StepRep thing, ah, that's been interesting. And I think Sharon is right about that - it picks up anything with my name attached to it, it seems.

Nov 09, 2009 02:43 PM
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Wow, I wish you had more comments, I know 160 some odd thousand aren't using these. Yes, it has been posted on before for some of us old timers but it needs to be said again to all the new folks.

Good job...I use them both and Feedreader for Google it.

Nov 10, 2009 02:37 AM
Austin Smith
Goomzee - Missoula, MT

Gary - thank you!  you are right...the internet is like flypaper: once you stick your finger to it, good luck getting it off without a fight!


Chris, Steve, and William - Thank you for your comments!  Automation is awesome, and I am enamored with my Google Reader.  I get about 70 alerts/day for our product name alone, not to mention the other alerts im tracking...100 emails a day is ridiculously overwhelming, not to mention slightly annoying.  Google Reader is the perfect tool, and that PPT from Ian i linked to makes Reader-setup quick and easy.  Check it out!

Missy -  That's funny, I want more comments too!  Hopefully our wishes will come true.  I hope I didnt say too much that has already been covered...  Thanks for your comment!

Nov 10, 2009 04:27 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Hey Austin -- Finally getting around to making some comments...

Reputation management is a hard pill for brands to swallow. Regardless of what you may think, the internet has given the single individual a voice that can be heard by millions.

Dont believe me?? Google UNITED BREAKS GUITARS

Point being, you MUST stay on top of what people are saying about your company and your brand. And, if at all possible, be PRO-ACTIVE enough to eliminate the need for negative attention by putting customer service first.

BTW, I closed my FeedReader about a month ago...I dont need it any more. Everyone I was following I follow on twitter, and I get the posts there first. #justsayin. ;-)

Nov 10, 2009 04:48 AM
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

I will have to try this again.  I tried it once before and it seems that it didn't "stick".

Nov 10, 2009 05:53 AM
Monica Bourgeau
Portland, OR
Business Coaching

Austin - great post, I agree - everyone should be using these free tools. It's also good to set up a Google alert for the addresses of your active listings. Some scam emails and websites are using actual listing information now.

Nov 10, 2009 07:57 AM
Austin Smith
Goomzee - Missoula, MT

Clint - True gold, good sir.  With the advent of "Twitter omnipotence", nothing is safe from the public.  You are right, PRO-ACTIVE is the way to be...leaving the tap open on your good content will ultimately be more effective than paying a company to bury or threaten away your negative PR.  Thanks for your comment!


Damon - Glad I could convince you to give it a second chance!  Check those three links in the last paragraph (the "here, here, and here" portion), they all contain lists of networks and rep mgmt tools, so you aren't reduced to using tools that didnt work the first time around.  Thanks for commenting!


Kevin & Monica - That's a good idea!  I read a story awhile ago about a couple that was being scammed, and they ended up contacting an agent for help - incidentally, this agent turned out to be the legitimate listing agent, a shock to all when she recognized the address contained within the questionable emails.  Scammers will got o great lengths today for a few bucks; you can never be too careful.  Thanks for your comment!

Nov 10, 2009 09:07 AM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

So, I'm curious and off to Google TLW.  I've set up google alerts and Step Rep, but I'm not sure about the blog part of Google.

I'm off to learn more about my online rep.  Thanks,

Nov 10, 2009 03:14 PM