We’ve all Googled our names to see what shows up, and you’ve probably done that for your business as well. Google Alerts is a free and easy way to automate that task, allowing you to stay on top of company mentions via daily email updates. If you aren’t already using Google Alerts to keep track of your company’s mentions, key executives and products, then there’s no time like the present to start using the feature.
If you want to go deeper, a simple search for “reputation management” delivers multiple options for third parties (some free, some requiring minimal to significant investments) who can deliver up-to-the-minute reports on what’s being said about your company on the web, on social media and in the press.
Regardless of how you’re monitoring your online reputation, you’re given little to no advice about how to deal with negative comments or appropriation of your trademarks.
Here’s how to address the three basic types of negative brand mentions online:
- Negative Social Media Remarks
It’s the nightmare of every public relations professional and CEO: negative comments or reviews calling out your brand on Facebook or another social media channel. You’re terrible. You hate kittens and believe that dessert in all its forms should be abolished. None of which, of course, is true. Everybody likes cake.
Your best tactic is to take the conversation offline. Not only does this allow for a dialogue between you and the commenter, but it also keeps the conversation between the two of you. Responding with, “That’s not true,” or arguing on social media with someone who had a bad experience with your brand will not end well and can quickly spin out of control.
- Appropriation of Your Company’s Name or Trademarked Products
It sounds surprising, but a simple “cease and desist” email can work wonders if someone’s using your company name on their web page or in their URL. If that doesn’t work, go to https://whois.icann.org/en to look up the owner of the domain. You’ll find their contact information, including email and phone number. ICANN is the global owner/administrator of online addresses, and it’s also the organization you should work with if the infringing party continues to be unresponsive.
It’s also a good idea to register URLs of your company name and your most popular brand names and common misspellings of them. These are low-hanging fruit for those looking to appropriate your brand for their own nefarious means.
- Slander and/or Libelous Content
Much like misappropriation of your company’s name, you should address slander, libelous or even incorrect content (a common issue with industry-specific directories) as soon as you discover it. A simple email will often clear up an outdated listing, but slanderous content will likely require legal input.
The best defense is a good offense. Daily alerts, cease-and-desist templates that can be readily deployed, and an ever-present eye on social media can help prevent or minimize disasters before they go viral.
Your diligence will be rewarded.