Searching Through Many Facets
The Internet has many facets that people simply don’t have time to explore fully. Blogging, micro-blogging, social networking, forums, video and image aggregation, and standard news websites are all places where opinions and information are exchanged online. This is what makes the Internet so engrossing–it has so many avenues in which to share and absorb information. The problem, of course, is that the Internet doe snot have a built in fact checker. Rather the opposite–it has built in anonymity which is guaranteed by law in most instances. While rumors and lies would probably spread fast enough without this guaranteed anonymity, it certainly helps to spur on the problem.
The Decision: Online Reputation Monitoring
Some people choose to monitor their reputations online. Others choose not to. Any Online Reputation Management expert in the industry will tell you that those who monitor their reputations online suffer from less ORM problems than those who don’t. They are made aware of the problem sooner and are better equipped to fight it. Even more importantly, individuals who actively monitor their reputations online deal with these issues less because they are not as easy to defame online. While anyone can write a negative blog post, those blog posts are only important if someone sees them. If the individual has a fortified online reputation with social networking profiles and articles about them showing up in Google already, then that negative blog post is very unlikely to ever warrant any attention at all.
White Noise As the Solution
Here at ORM Magazine we try to bring attention to those tools which can help to solve various issues. White Noise is a tool that does just that by monitoring chatter online. White Noise is a tool which clients can use to scan the Internet, all of it’s various facets, and discover what is being said about them online. This is an important function that few other tools can deliver upon capably. White Noise does it without all the extra bells and whistles that are not needed. However, with White Noise you get the tools you need in order to monitor your online reputation and see what the online chatter is really about.
The Joint Venture That Works
White Noise is a solution that was developed as a joint venture between The Solution Studio and Crooked House Strategy and Communications, two companies who had a need of this tool. Their clients were looking for affordable ways to monitor their online reputations and could not find a tool that truly met their needs. White Noise is that creation that solved that issue by offering a dynamic program that could search through the White Noise and find the meat of the issue.
Their goal is to help companies to become more self-sufficient regarding online reputation monitoring by empowering them to use the tools themselves. Tracking and analyzing online conversations and statements has never been made more simple. This is what makes White Noise as successful as it is.
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The New Field
Online reputation is a field that is not very well understood by many people. Most people think that an online reputation is just a curiosity–something people look at when they’re bored and don’t take seriously. However, consider this: If you are considering buying a product from two companies and one of them has a positive online reputation and the other has a severely negative reputation, which company will you be purchasing that product from? You can bet that 99 out of 100 people would choose the company with the more positive online reputation.
Dealing With the Issue
Individuals and companies who find that they have been defamed online, or that negative past results do not accurately reflect the positive present, will sometimes turn to online reputation tools, whether they are for monitoring or repairing their reputation online, for help. There are a wealth of these tools available online, but not all of them are actually effective. Even amongst the tools that are effective, not all of them are cost-effective. In other words, many of them are much more expensive than their utility deserves.
StatsMix As The Solution
One tool that is both cost effective and efficient is StatsMix. The idea behind this tool is to track, chart, and share social media statistics. The monitoring and analysis of social media has become a very important industry as of late as the Internet has risen in importance to the commercial world.
So what is StatsMix? Let’s look to the website itself.
StatsMix is a web-based service that makes it easy to track, chart, and share all your important metrics.
StatsMix is based in Boulder, Colorado and was recently a part of TechStars, a mentorship-driven seed stage accelerator.
Tom Markiewicz, Derek Scruggs, and Sandy Rich make up the core leadership team at StatsMix. They have created a company that is dynamic and serves the interests of the clients well. They are not obsessed with over-complicating their software. Rather, they try to simplify their software to the point where any client can learn to use it within minutes. This makes StatsMix both functional and cost-effective. With all of the social media monitoring and analysis software out there, it is sometimes hard to differentiate between the software that is actually helpful, and the software that is simply a waste of money and time. StatsMix is the former, as multiple online reviews attest to.
There are four pricing plans of StatsMix, ranging from “Developer”, which is free but offers only a limited number of features and tools, to “Pro”, which is only $99 per month and gives you full access to the entire software suite. The many tools you can find access to in the Pro plan will help to analyze and quantify any social media situation. Unlike many social media analyzers, there is no long term commitment involved when you pay for StatsMix, you can cancel your contract at any time. It’s a simple matter of paying for the service from month to month, without any longer-term contract. StatsMix is a software company that has met with considerable success because it cares about the needs of the clients first and foremost.
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Ordering Pizza and How the Internet Is Involved
The Internet is an expansive source of information that many people look to for even the most basic reasons. If they are looking to order a pizza for dinner, people will often Google the nearest pizza places, whether they deliver, pricing schemes, coupons, customer reviews, etc. All of this information affects their decision on where to order pizza from, what kind of pizza to order, etc. If you do not think that the Internet is having a major impact on even non-Internet based businesses, then you can’t see the world around you as its changing.
The Many Avenues of Information
Blogs, forums, social networking, micro-blogging, review sites, and full-fledged articles; All of these act as important sources of information to the average consumer when they are comparing products, services, or companies. Keeping up with all of these methods of online communication would be quite difficult for one business to do, especially if that business is not some multi-national corporation that can devote an entire salary to doing just that, but is instead a small or medium sized business that simply can’t afford bad publicity online.
The Solution: Viralheat
Viralheat is a product that can help these companies, even the large ones, to deal with their online reputation issues by monitoring and analyzing the information that is gleaned from the Internet. Some of the companies and brands that makes use of Viralheat are the National Hockey League, Coca Cola, Tivo, HP, Microsoft, Nokia, ESPN, MTV, Disney, and Ebay. There are, of course, many more small and medium sized companies that take advantage of this high quality product too.
What Do They Look At?
Viralheat’s coverage of the online conversation extends to all manner of social media, including Google Buzz, Facebook, Twitter, Real-time Web, Youtube, and others. Of course, all of this information is useless to a customer if they don’t have a way to read the raw data and analyze it effectively. The in-depth analysis provided by Viralheat is very high quality. Furthermore, the Viralheat platform allows companies and brands to find their detractors and advocates online–people who are either trumpeting their positive aspects or saying negative things about them online. If a company or brand wants to understand how to have a more positive online image, this is a key step in the process.Viralheat makes the entire process easier and helps you to take the steps, one by one.
Viralheat is considered a social media measurement platform and ease of use and effectiveness are considered two of the top values for the company’s platform. Millions of blogs and websites are scoured, hundreds of video aggregation and uploading sites are searched, and social networking websites are constantly monitored in order to get the information that is necessary for Viralheat to give an accurate picture of a client’s online reputation to them at any given time.
Viralheat was co-founded by Raj Kadam and Vishal Sankhla in January 2009. The company has over 1500 customers in 70+ countries, which is an impressive feat in and of itself.
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Social Media’s Control of the Reputation Online
Social media is not just connections between people online. It is a connection amongst people, businesses, organizations, groups, charities, common interests, etc. Most pronounced on sites like Facebook and Google+, social media occurs all over the Internet in various ways, through crowd-sourcing, through search engines, and of course through social networking.
Social media has become important in the business world because it leads to a great deal of information being shared that has an effect on the various businesses, organizations, and individuals who care about their reputations. Of course, virtually every business ought to care about their reputations, regardless of their size, industry, or location.
Regardless of Size
Whether it is a small company, a medium-sized company, or a multi-national corporation–reputation is important. Individuals look to a company’s reputation to tell them something about that company, their products, their services, the customer service, the owners, the history. The Internet is one of the main repositories of information that individuals turn to for help. They seek out more information by plugging a company or individual’s name into the search engine. Usually what they are met by is information provided by other users, not solely information from the searched-entity’s websites. What this means is that, for the most part, businesses and individuals are not in control of their own reputations.
If that concept scares you, it should. All companies (and generally speaking, individuals too) want to be in control of their reputations to whatever degree possible, so that they can help to shape the public perception of the business. Online reputation management is an industry that can help individuals, organizations, and companies to take more control of their online reputations and fight back against online defamation, untrue reviews, and underhanded comments from competitors. Online reputation management must be preceded by online reputation monitoring first.
The Company Offering Solutions
Cyveillance Solutions is a company that provides online reputation monitoring services. They call it “brand intelligence”, but it is the same concept. They are monitoring any online activity that mentions your brand, products, keywords, etc. Their brand intelligence program works on a near-realtime basis, meaning as soon as there is an issue, you will know of it.Cyveillance Solutions. The company has been around since 1997 and actually provides a number of IT and security-related services in addition to their brand intelligence service.
A High Quality Product
The importance of monitoring what people are saying about you, your company, or your products online cannot be overstated. Your reputation is how newcomers will judge your business and you may not ever get a shot if they already have a predisposition against you. The way to prevent this is to dilligently monitor your online reputation and fight back as effectively as possible. Cyveillance Solutions’ Brand Intelligence product is a high quality way to monitor and prepare to fight back against online defamation, as well as engaging customers in meaningful discussion about products and services.
This is a link to their brand intelligence page:
A Review of the product from Tech Biz Talk:
And finally, a little additional information about the company itself:
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The online reputation has come to dominate boardroom conversations about large corporate entities, so why shouldn’t smaller businesses start concerning themselves with these issues? The general reason people give is that they simply cannot afford to spend money on online distractions. However, the truth is that they cannot afford not to–the Internet these days is a very important source of information for prospective consumers.
The Small Company Effect
Small companies tend to think that all they can do is their best and hope that customers will reflect that kindness back upon them. However, this is optimistic at best and naive at worst. There are many misanthropes out there who make use of the Internet to damage other people and company’s reputations just because they can. While it takes years to build up a great reputation, it can take minutes to destroy one online.
Even if someone is not actively trying to destroy a company’s reputation, often negative online chatter will show up in the top search results or on social networks just in time to cost you significant amounts of money. Negative comments about a company on a review website, on random forums, in the blogosphere, or on social networks has a way of biting back at the company. It is for this reason that companies should pay attention to what is being said about them online.
Not Good Enough
Doing occasional market research or online surveys simply is not good enough more. While it once sufficed, it is now a negligent way to handle media monitoring, especially the online component. Feedback forms and emailed complaints or compliments just can’t do it anymore. You have to be more proactive, and for the most part that means working with some experts.
Overtone: Offering the Solution
Overtone is a company that helps other firms to monitor the online discussion about them, their products, services, etc. If you want real-time intelligence on what customers are saying about your business and your industry in general, then Overtone is a company that absolutely can help.
The Product: OpenMic
OpenMic is a product that Overtone bills as a “Customer listening system” and that seems to be pretty accurate. It is all about haring the voice of the customer online and taking heed of what they are saying in order to improve upon your company’s existing infrastructure, products, customer service, etc. Keyword based online media monitoring is certainly more helpful than nothing at all, but it doesn’t do the job anymore in an age when the Internet is so expansive. This is more than buzz monitoring–OpenMic actually deciphers the intent of the messages and analyzes them.
This is the website of both Overtone and OpenMic.
Whenever possible, I like to include a link to the company or product’s crunchbase profile. So here you go:
This is a video, actually, a demo of the advanced sentiment analysis.
Lastly, this is a news article from DigiDaily about Overtone’s entry into the “customer listening” market.
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The Importance of Links
The importance of a link is often under appreciated. Online reputation management consultants and specialists often understand it, but few others do. This is particularly true of the businessman, who is so often savvy when it comes to their industry but uninformed when it comes to social media or online stirrings. With that said, many people are now starting to understand how incredibly improtant the Internet in general is to the real world. What the Internet says about you, your company, your product, or your service might as well be the truth–because that is how people many are going to receive the information, as the undisputed truth.
Harnessing Social Media
Even more specifically, people have begun to understand and harness social media. The Internet is essentially the largest network in the world and it allows for semi-anonymous (or completely anonymous) mass communication. Companies, public institutions, and individuals must learn to confront the issues that go along with this.
Engaging in the Conversation
E-reputation audits are an essential part of knowing where you or your company stand online. This is often called online reputation monitoring, too. Whatever it is called, it must consist of watching the social media, including twitter, facebook, and the blogosphere, for mention of the keywords. Understanding the criticisms, praise, and lack of knowledge of your product or service by potential customers online is the key to being more successful. To do this, online reputation monitoring must be used.
Linkfluence: A Solution to An Online Issue
One of the most exciting platforms for social media monitoring and engagement right now is Linkfluence. The company uses innovative tools and methods to help clients analyze and engage with customers online. Defining an online strategy is made much simpler through Linkfluence’s work. This means companies that use Linkfluence are able to optimize costs and manage their online strategy in real time. As the online conversation changes, so does the company’s reaction to it.
Linkfluence is a young company–a french start-up that is composed of two distinct departments. The studies department looks into the deliverable products that are needed, with the engineering and design department developing the tools that are necessary for that success.
While the company was started in France and is still based there, they have offices in Paris, France, and Mannheim, Germany. The company has spearheaded projects in France, Germany, the U.K., the United States, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Brazil, Poland, and Switzerland. The various products and platforms they have to offer are impressive. From political observatories that monitor and analyze what is occurring in various fields, to E-Reputation and Impact, which measure web notoriety and Return on Investment, respectively.
Linkfluence is a platform that is providing innovative products to complicated problems online. Perhaps the most interesting thing they’ve done thus far is Netnography, which is the mapping of online inter-connectivity.
This is a really good example of their Netnography work–a Eurosphere. A map of the interconnectivity (or lack thereof) of Europe’s online activity.
This is a profile of the company by the Franco-American Quill:
I’d be remiss if I didn’t link the site itself, of course. Take a look at the “Products” section.
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Don’t Deny It
Reputations are incredibly important–very few people would really deny that. Assuming prices and products/services are roughly similar or assuming you have no concrete knowledge of those pieces of information, it is a reputation that convinces a consumer to use one business over another. The Internet is having a major effect on real world reputations, too. The Internet has become a major source of information–online reputations have taken on a new importance. For better or for worse, social media has played a big role in the shaping of online reputations.
Social Media’s Shaping of Online Reputations
Social media is no longer just interactions between individuals, if ever it really was. Social media is, more and more these days, being used for commercial purposes. This means it has significant repercussions on the reputations of businesses, brands, products, and individuals. Not always in a positive way, unfortunately. See Rebecca Black, the young girl who put out a studio-recorded song called “Friday” a couple of months ago. It quickly went viral on the blogs and in social media, but not because it was beloved–it was shared so much because people thought it was so bad. This will have an irreparable effect on her reputation, at least as a singer.
Using Tools To Help
Of course, not every situation is like Rebecca Black. Often, the damage is temporary rather than permanent. Similarly, sometimes the trouble can be avoided altogether with some online reputation management. There are a wide variety of tools that can help to monitor online reputations and viral campaigns. One of the most interesting tools I’ve stumbled across recently is BackType.
BackType and It’s History
BackType was founded by Michael Montano and Christopher Golda in 2008 as a social media analytics firm. Essentially the idea for the firm, then and now, was to help companies and brands understand how important social media can be for their business. HubSpot, The New York Times, and Hunch all look to BackType for these services.
BackTweets is a tool that BackType developed and it is very useful in regards to Twitter specifically. What it does is help companies and individuals to understand their influence on Twitter. Their website claims that they have analyzed over 50 billion tweets from 200 million users, including 10 billion links. The firm recently received over $1 million in angel investing and then was purchased by Twitter, with the staff moving into the Twitter offices to work.
The Services and Future
The services that BackTweets offers is pretty amazing–it offers some very in-depth analysis of particular keywords, campaigns, or brands. This analysis is complete with numbers on use of the terms and graphs to display the information involved. Look for this information to pop up in some innovative and creative way on Twitter soon–there is a reason they purchased it.
This is the BackType Blog, which is very illustrative of what they do:
TechCrunch, which we all know and love, profiled BackType after it was acquired by Twitter:
Not many technology companies give this many details on their programs and coding, but BackType does:
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There are so many reasons why companies should care about how people perceive them. Indeed, virtually every company recognizes this truth when they invest in public relations professionals, advertisements, marketing departments, etc. There is a curious oversight, though, when it comes to online reputations. Many companies do not pay even the slightest attention what their overall online reputations are–what information Google reveals about them, what customers are saying on social networks, and what various niche forums say about their products or services.
It is this last possibility that I’d like to focus on in this column. Forums are important. You must register for them first, so there are not many fly-by-night commenters on a forum. Furthermore, spam is considerably less common on forums, which also serves to make them more respectable outlets for information sharing. Forums are more of a private atmosphere, too, even though they are often crawled by search engines, they are insular communities–all of these factors combine to mean that people trust statements on forums more than comments left of blogs or even social networking statuses.
Many forums are not search-able through search engines. They have required registration and do not allow their forums to be crawled by search engines. This does not mean, however, that forums have to remain invisible to those who want to discover what is being said on them. Boardreader is a site that helps people to look through forum postings, whether they are about soccer, cars, fashion, or certain cities.
Boardreader was founded in May of 2000 by a collection of engineers and students from the University of Michigan in order to find and then accurately display the messages that people often send to each other through forums boards online. Boardreader searches thousands of forums simultaneously for information pertaining to your keyword. Part of the aim for Boardreader is to increase traffic to various message boards and forums. They can do this by increasing the exposure that those forums receive. You can, of course, search by more advanced parameters too.
It is absolutely essential that people know what is being about their companies, products, or services. If they do not, they will not know how to properly respond. With that in mind, Boardreader can be used to monitor forum postings for online reputation monitoring reasons.
The online reputation of a company matters much more than many people realize. The number of people who discount the importance of an online reputation is quite alarming–as virtually everyone goes online now when they want information about anything. Whether it is Walmart, a famous athlete, a new movie coming out, or the latest fashion trends–people look to the Internet for their information. In light of this, it is very important to know not just what is coming up on the search engines for you, but also to know what people are saying in more private locales about your company or product. Boardreader is the best possible way to do that.
This is an article that is actually written by the makers of Boardreader:
This is the Boardreader site, do some searches to see the layout:
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The importance of a solid reputation cannot be underestimated. Due to the highly competitive nature of virtually every industry these days, consumers are keenly aware that they have a plethora of options when it comes to products, services, or companies. Due to this, they often seek out information on how the various companies, products, or services compare. They look to print media and television, sure, but increasingly consumers are turning to the Internet as a way to find out more about various services, products, and companies.
The Internet is a medium that needs to be watched extra closely by businesses who are concerned with their image. It is a pliant medium which does exert much control over its users. The Internet is as near to anarchic speech as you can imagine, with very few laws regarding slander, libel, uncomplimentary reviews, etc. Even if a company does not engage in the online conversation, others will still be able to control your brand’s image. Unfortunately, people rarely check the facts for information they are given–so any statement, comment, article, or video is believed to be authentic. There is a quote that is going around that illustrates this point quite well: “You can believe virtually anything you read on the Internet, because only experts are allowed to publish material there.” -Albert Einstein.
Of course, the point is that the Internet did not exist when Albert Einstein was alive and any individual who said that would be incredibly foolish. But, people do believe things that they read about products, services, companies, events, and people without giving it much thought and without checking the facts out. This is sad, but true. In order to counteract this lack of fact checking, companies must be that much more zealous about monitoring their online reputations and promoting positive content regarding their brands.
The Solution: Taking Actionly
One of the most talked about products for online reputation monitoring is Actionly. This is a tool that has been lauded by many online reputation management and social media experts. Actionly makes use of state of the art technology to keep track of the chatter about your brand, product, service, or company online. Whether it is being said on blogs, forums, traditional websites, or social networking sites–Actionly will pick up on it, make not of it, and analyze it for the client.
Google Buzz, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, Youtube, and others are all monitored by Actionly in order to get an accurate picture of who is talking about your company or product, where they’re doing that talking, and what sort of things they are saying. The entire idea behind Actionly is that companies often have trouble finding actionable insights from their online reputation monitoring programs, assuming they have any online reputation monitoring programs at all. Actionly monitors all social media for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week–their monitoring platform does not take a break, so that you can.
This is Actionly’s website–where you can find out more about the program and pricing:
This is an interview with an employee at Actionly:
This is a review of Actionly as a service:
Do It Yourself and How It Fails
Monitoring an online reputation can be quite intensive. It takes time, patience, and a knowledge of how to do it yourself. Most people who try to monitor their own reputations do not do a great job, frankly, because all they know how to do is search for themselves on Google or some other search engine. While this is certainly an important part of monitoring your online reputation, it is far from a comprehensive online reputation monitoring campaign. Monitoring social networking chatter from Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, and Google+, searching news and blog aggregators, and seeing if any forums have chatter about you. Doing a comprehensive search like this, depending on how much chatter there is about you, how common your name is, etc, could take anywhere from a couple hours to days at a time.
There are tools, though, that can help to make the process easier. Online reputation monitoring tools are a dime-a-dozen, but few of them really do the job the way it should be done, and many of them miss various aspects of a good monitoring campaign. Trackur is one tool that does the job right. Trackur is a tool developed by Andy Beal, one of the most respected names in online marketing. He is an international renown consultant, author, and speaker on topics related to online marketing, including online reputation monitoring. His website, Marketing Pilgrim, is a treasure trove of information about online reputation monitoring and management, as is his book Radically Transparent. So Andy Beal’s Trackur has some gravitas before you even take a look at it’s layout, pricing, and functionality.
How Is It Different?
Trackur is not like other online reputation monitoring tools, it does a comprehensive study of the Internet to find out what, if anything, is being said about you, your company, your brand, or various keywords. It does not just monitor news, either, but videos, images, and social media. Trackur is extremely user friendly–it can be set up in as little as five minutes. Users of Trackur can get emailed any updates that the program has, so you have the ability to be notified immediately of anything the program finds and you can tackle the issue before it becomes any real problem. Anyone who knows anything about online reputation monitoring and management knows that acting quickly is of paramount importance.
At first, Trackur’s base cost was $88. However, it is now available for only $18 per user per month, a cost that is unmatched in the online reputation monitoring tool industry. You will not find an effective online monitoring service, program, or tool that is any cheaper than that. Trackur has proven to be extremely popular with users looking for alternatives to monitoring their own online reputations. Over 35,000 people have used Trackur thus far. Part of the reason is the low pricing, as well as the virtually real time results–you will often find results in the Trackur queue that are less than thirty minutes old.
The article where Beal announced his new tool, Trackur, and answered some basic questions about it. Notice this has a higher price $88, for the standard services–it has since been dramatically lowered.
A Mashable article on Trackur’s price coming down.
If you’re interested in actually getting Trackur–the site for the tool itself.
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