Written by Karen D. Swim
This morning my friend, Dwann Holmes Olsen had her Facebook page hacked. The hacker posted vile and ugly rantings on her wall alarming many of her followers. The hacking was disturbing, but even more disturbing were those that believed that Dwann had written the uncharacteristic words.
Misrepresentation and slander are nothing new. Corporations and high profile figures have long dealt with these issues. However in this new era of user generated content, where anyone can have a platform, the dark side has gone mainstream.
“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” –Wayne Gretzky
Gretzky’s quote paints the need to have both a good offense and defense. When it comes to your reputation you should fiercely guard it against attack but also be prepared to respond against negative attacks.
Whether you are a solo professional or a large corporation, there are steps that you can take to protect your good name.
Monitor your name/brand. In addition to Google Alerts there are a number of monitoring tools that will help you track how your name and/or company name is being used. The following tools will help you track name/brand mentions, comments, even social chatter.
- Tweetlater – Set up keyword alerts for your name, @name, company name and receive an email digest whenever your alert terms are tweeted. There is also a paid option offering additional features. Similar to tweetlater, is Tweetbeep (free and premium options).
- Backtype – track blog comments. You can track comments with your name and keep track of your own comments.
- Yacktrack – allows you to track social comments. You can serach for URL or use the chatter tab to search by term.
- Boardtracker – monitor forum threads with your name/company name.
- Addictomatic – monitor mentions on user generated content sites such as Digg, Flickr, Blogs. I always find mentions not delivered by Google alerts.
- Filtrbox – real time social media monitoring. Filtrbox offers the basic product and Twitter Influence for free. There is also a paid product. Fairly robust monitoring service with lots of intelligent features.
If you have a higher visibility or want to take your brand monitoring to the next level, consider using paid tools.
- Radian6 – offers near real time metrics, in depth analysis and reporting and a customizable dashboard.
- Trackur – online reputation and social media monitoring tools. Plans start at $18 per month.
- ReputationDefender – Four monitoring tools, MyChild (safety tool for parents), MyPrivacy (remove your personal information from the web), MyReputation (monitor and manage your online reputation), MyEdge (control how you look in search engines).
- Cision – Social media monitoring tools
- BrandsEye – monitor your online reputation, quantify brand perception. Blooger rates are $1 per month for 5 phrases.
These are only a few of the tools available to help you build a good offense. The next step is to ensure that you are prepared with a good defense.
Prepare a crisis communication plan. Are you ready with an answer when negative press hits the digital airwaves? Do you have a documented plan accessible to your staff? This is where working with PR professionals can really be beneficial. Professionals are not only masterful at obtaining you good press but defending against negative attacks.
Do you have a master non-digital list of profiles, sites and passwords? If you are hacked, it is essential to be able to change your passwords and access. Do you have employees or volunteers with access? Do you know who has access to what sites?
Protect your digital footprint. Use Virus protection software to alert you to potentially harmful sites. If you are a solo professional or small company without an in house IT department, contract with a company to protect your system. For small companies, local computer companies are a great, affordable option for quarterly check-up and cleaning. Be cautious about allowing applications access to your profile. Do not trust every application just because someone in your network tweets about it.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Please feel free to add tools and tips to in the comments. Have you ever had your reputation hijacked? How did you respond?
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