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Your Guide to Online Reputation Management

By Peter Lamandre, Better By Design Real Estate, Scranton, PA

“It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.” - Benjamin Franklin

We all work hard to build our reputations. I was speaking with a potential property management client yesterday, when I asked him if he had any questions about my firm. His reply was simple; “Yes, are you honest?” I chuckledOnline reputation management and reminded him that he was a referral from one of our oldest clients. The fact of the matter is that people like to do business with those they know, like, and TRUST. In property management the TRUST part is a big piece — after all the owner of the property is basically saying here is my single biggest asset, you’re in charge; please make me lots of money.

In the old days you would go to a chamber of commerce meeting, or an apartment association meeting, or a similar in-person event (we still do these things). In today’s internet-driven world, clients often first find you online then send you an email or fill out an online prospect form. The consumer will then conduct research online to find out all they can about you and your firm. The hard part is knowing what is said about you online — have you ever given thought to how many websites are out there? Here are some quick stats from pingdom.com:

Websites

  • 255 million – The number of websites as of December 2010
  • 21.4 million – The number of websites added in 2010

Social media

  • 152 million – The number of blogs on the Internet (as tracked by BlogPulse)
  • 25 billion – The number of sent tweets on Twitter in 2010
  • 100 million – New accounts added on Twitter in 2010
  • 175 million – People on Twitter as of September 2010
  • 600 million – People on Facebook at the end of 2010
  • 250 million – New people on Facebook in 2010
  • 30 billion – Pieces of content (links, notes, photos, etc.) shared on Facebook per month
  • 70% – Share of Facebook’s user base located outside the United States

It would be impossible to independently search all of these locations to see if someone has tweeted, posted, liked or criticized you or your firm. Luckily you don’t have to, as there are services on the web like ReputationDefender.com that you can hire to keep an eye on things. These types of services can not only monitor your reputation, but can actively assist in promoting a good reputation and suppressing negative content.

Now if you’re frugal and have a bit of time on your hands you can do it on the cheap by utilizing a free service from Google called Google Alerts. Google allows you to have their server run a search for specific terms and have the results automatically sent to your email for review. You can enter searches for your name, your firm’s name, common misspellings, and anything else that might be posted in reference to your reputation. This will enable you to quickly respond to any info posted about you. Many companies are actively monitoring their reputation; in fact in my last post I mentioned “Tap Inspect” and whether it was a manual, automatic or via a paid service they became aware of my post and actually commented on it. This a great example of a company proactively monitoring what people are saying about them and responding.

But how do you respond?

If someone posts a nice comment… thank them, people like to be thanked and it will only encourage more positive comments. It also shows that you care about what your clients think.

Don’t retaliate against negative posts. You are better off taking a deep breath and thinking about the post, admitting fault if there was indeed validity to the post, and demonstrating how you will correct the issue.

Lastly, write a blog fostering comments from clients, or create a Facebook page asking clients to make positive comments on your service. The best way to make bad comments less relevant is to promote the good ones.


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