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Delete this post! How to monitor and manage your on-line rep

You’ve got your social media campaign happening. Twitter. Facebook. Your blog. You’ve decided who in your company is responsible for managing your social media. Things seem to be going well until – what’s this? For some reason search engines are kicking up a negative posting which mentions your business from another user at the top of searches or worse, somebody within your organisation has posted something negative about you which is now going viral not just internally but amongst your competitors and the blogosphere at large.

What to do?

It’s not just individuals that have to watch their on-line reputations. It can happen to the biggest and the best. Take for example Google engineer Steve Yegge, whose rant about Google+ and also Amazon and it’s CEO Jeff Bezos, went viral this week after he accidentally posted it on his public Google+ account instead of internally to other Google employees.

In his 5000 word diatribe, Yegge first directs his ire at his employer for their failure to understand platforms: “Google+ is a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership (hi Larry, Sergey, Eric, Vic, howdy howdy) down to the very lowest leaf workers (hey yo),” Yegge wrote. “Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product.”

He then moves on to describe Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos as “a micromanager fanatic”.

While negative postings of this nature may not be as extreme as this – the fact it was posted by a Google employee with a blog following of over 2000 undoubtedly added to the interest and the capacity of the story to quickly spread, the fact is that rants and inappropriate comments by employees past and present as well as those posted by customers and users can have a huge impact on the perception clients and customers are forming when making the decision to do business. So, if the first result on a Google search of your product or company yields a negative result, what can be done?

‘The thing about social media in particular is that its constantly being updated,’ explains Dave Jabbie. ‘Search engines will be looking for certain key words regarding your business and organisation. While you won’t be able to remove a negative posting what you can do is effectively ‘push’ it further down the search results simply by using the same social media that generated it in the first place. By updating your status more frequently, updating your website or even by opening up new social media accounts this will quickly push down a negative posting. The key is to react quickly – once you can push something off the first page of a search result it has much less ability to cause a negative perception as many users tend to gravitate towards the top and usually the newest entries.’

Obviously if the company is facing a serious problem then crisis management is called for but anyone in business knows that while one tries to keep all ones clients happy, sometimes this just isn’t possible.

‘There’s always going to be the customer with an axe to grind or even an employee that puts up an ill-advised posting. Obviously if its your own social media account then damage mitigation is much easier provided few users have seen it. One example recently was a client who accidentally uploaded a blooper onto their YouTube account where they used some colourful language. Fortunately they realised what they had done and managed to remove it – but not before one person had viewed it. let’s hope they saw the funny side of it!’.

Pushing negative postings and comments from other users down the search ratings is therefore a question of constantly monitoring what others may be writing about you. ‘Ask yourself this: when did I last Google my own business?’ says Jabbie. ‘The thing is – it’s the last thing most of us think of doing – why should we? But if you’re not minding your web presence then who is? Of course it’s your agency’s job to insure your website is kicking up at the top of a search but the other stuff? More than ever we need to be mindful of our on-line rep.’

As for Steve Yegge who has described his rant as ‘the Great-Grandaddy of Reply-All Screw Ups’, he is now charged with finding solutions to the problems he outlined in his posting. He has also since referred to Bezos in a new posting as an “incredibly smart person, arguably a first-class genius.” Probably a good move Steve in case you don’t find those solutions for your present employer and need to go looking for a new one.

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