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Andy Beal Guides Firms To Rep Tracking

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The marketing guru recently posted a lengthy guide to tracking one’s online reputation as discussed in the news and the blogosphere.

First a disclaimer: Beal’s posts frequently appear on WebProNews in our Blog Talk section. Quite frankly it makes no difference to me if his work shows up here or not, or as a feature in Pravda. It doesn’t influence how or what I write about his work.

Beal’s expertise stands out nicely in his recent entry on monitoring one’s online reputation. The need to keep track of how one’s business or name is discussed on the Internet has led to the development of a market for those specialized services.

Factiva and Nielsen both offer sophisticated tracking services, and companies like Beal’s Fortune Interactive do so as well. All of them emphasize the need to know what potential issues could snowball and have a major impact, good or bad, on a brand.

He discusses the consumer generated media phenomenon and why businesses need to know what’s going on there. Companies should track what is related to their business, like the brand name and the names of key employees. Also, the competition and news related to the field of business should be part of the tracking.

Tracking is not a task that should be farmed off to someone as a part-time or whenever it can be done activity. Beal thinks a business should monitor this tracking hourly, and suggested a few ways to do so: RSS feeds from keyword searches at blog and news sites, email alerts from Google News and Yahoo News, message boards and forums, and groups established at Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL.

If a website does not offer a RSS feed for keywords, Beal suggests using Rollyo to build a custom search engine to pick up those keywords on sites like Consumerist and PlanetFeedback.

While it is easy and enjoyable to benefit from positive buzz created about a business online, companies have to handle negative buzz as well. That means doing so directly and honestly. Inaccurate accusations should be countered with facts, and accurate ones with participation.

Businesses can do themselves a favor in Beal’s estimation by being proactive in participating in the discussions that take place. “A key initiative is to embrace bloggers and build allies before something negative is posted. Trying to establish a voice after the conversation has started, is always difficult,” he posted in response to a question on his blog about Dell’s PR disaster in dealing with Jeff Jarvis, an A-list blogger whose poor experience with Dell’s customer service became a cause celebre among bloggers everywhere.

Too bad Dell had not engaged someone like Beal first. His recommendation to research and learn more about bloggers, like who they are and what kind of respect and audience they receive, would have saved Dell a lot of bad press.

If you have had experience with positive or negative buzz online, and its impact on your day-to-day business, tell us about it at SyndicationPro.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Andy Beal Guides Firms To Rep Tracking
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