First up was Rob Key from Converseon, Inc. He goes over some quick stats. There are 1.2million people searching delta airlines each month. And they see a negative result in the SERPs. He explains that how you are defined is often in the hands of third parties. He shows examples of brand names that have competitive and negative results. Blogs are a major issue for reputation management. 39% of the top 100 SERPs is driven by Consumer Generated Media. He explains there is no "truth algorithm" what is #1 isn't always true. Brand and product reputation is a discussion that creates a perception. So what do you do when your brand rep is hurt? Lots of people sue! What they recommend is managing your SERP "Shelf Space". Shelf space is the first page results. 75% of users dont go beyond the first page. YOu first need to understand and map the conversation out there. Once you map the conversation, you then need to minimize the visibility of those bad rep by mobilizing allies on your half (affiliate marketing, contents, blogs, communities, etc.). You need to optimize a partnership of sites, blogs, partners, etc. Ten Key Elements of "SERMA"; create a cross discipline team that bridges the chasm between corp communication and PR and online marketing. Understand how people are searching on your brand. Bucket them. Optimize your network around them. Continue to publisher relevant content. Engage partners and affiliates selectively. Initiate conversation mining to monitor new brand incidents. Be vigilant, continue to monitor, be proactive and stay transparent. The conduct a SERMA test; go to search engines and type your brand in, review top listings, and review those results.
Next up Rob Garner from Agency.com. Why should you be concerned with reputation management? There is a bounty on brand terms (engines and affiliate programs provide incentive for aggregation of traffic through various means). There is third party manipulation of SERPs. SEO techniques; content theft, site scraping, typojacking (misspellings), and page cranking. Resolution; report a site to the engine, consult your legal team. He gave a case study; client could not determine why a competitor site was ranking so well for trademarked names, they found they were cloaking, and legal action was taken. Domain registrations; domain aggregators have 100,000s of domain names, they serve up contextual ads, engines and domain aggregators split text ad fee revenues. He shows a sample of this. There are trademark issues with this, where advertisers are unknowingly placed on these competitor trademarks and visa versa. Plus there are relevancy issues with some publishers have control of which ads appear on these landing pages, and they dont choose the most appropriate ads. best defense is to use a keyword research tool to find what others can bid on your trademark. Compare terms against .coms in whois and acquire those domain names, some how. He then showed a case study of MillerBrewingCo.com, which had those contextual ads on it, and on that page there was a picture of children with beer (bad bad bad).
Next up Nan Dawkins from RedBoots Consulting. They work with advocacy clients. Identity is negotiated in the online space, not managed. The negotiation takes place primarily in the process of engaging. The blogosphere levels the playing field between David and Goliath. Blogs are important microclimate in CGM (consumer generated management). Source of problems on SERPs for broad, brand searches. Source of long term, consistent buzz and synergistic relationship with mainstream media. What can be monitored? Total buzz, influential, detractors, supporters, positive versus negative, conversations topics and trends, new versus existing voices, demographics of voices, sentiment, competition, conventional press citations and message pick up. You are looking for patterns. You can do this with free tools, blogpulse.com or feedster or technorati but it can get overwhelming to manage. You can also track the conversation to the original source. She also likes clusty, which breaks it down by category, and also take the info into icerocket and see trends. The problem is it takes too much time. There are companies that do it for you; cyberalert, customscoop, intelliseek, moreover, factiva, visimo, cymfony, umbria, lexis/nexis, interlliseek (other product). Solution Providers key distinctions; methodology, metrics, sources, balance of technology, delivery, spam, end use and cost. Tip #1; what you see depends on what you take into account; you need the long tail, detractors are not the only, or most important, "pick up" of your advertising PR... Tip #2, data is only valuable if you know what to do with it. She explains that a guy used FedEx boxes for his home furniture and it got written up, but then FedEx sent a DMCA, yadayada. Tip #3; sometimes you need a mediator and not a marketer. Sometimes you need to know when to step back. Productive one to one responses may boost you. PR firms should not be having the one to one conversations. Tip #4, what you call a thing impacts how you respond to it.
Last up is Andy Beal from Fortune Interactive. He showed some examples about how bloggers can hurt your rep. But he also shows how it can help your reputation. Technorati reports 87k+ blogs include "kudos" and 65k have "boycott" and 104k contain "scam". Create custom RSS feeds based on keyword searches and use an RSS reader to keep track of them (I do this but its getting to be overwhelming). What to track with RSS; track every related to your company, track competitors info, monitor industry related news. News and Web alerts; Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts, track all industry and competitor keywords and track news and web and groups. Watch competitors press releases and look for plagiarism. Track the untrackable; you can use copernic, aignes.com and so on. Where to use it? Every page of your competitors Web site. BBB, Alexa.com reviews, forums and ripoffreport.com. Laying forum foundation; identify most popular forums for industry, join the forum and become respected in the forum, consider sponsoring most influential forums, build alliances and partnerships with most influential folks in forums. Respond to criticism; monitor your rss feeds and email alerts hourly. Identify the author of a blog, owner of a forum. Read authors previous work and understand them. Under the threat level. Tactics for blogs; if a blog post is factually incorrect, send them evidence, ask for removal or retraction and offer to keep them informed of future news, and only if no action by blog author, add comment. If it is true but its negative; still send your side of the story, explain how you are handling the situation, add comment to the post, indicate your willingness to receive any info offline via email or phone. Will it accomplish anything? 94% of bloggers will remove, edit or add correct info to any incorrect blog posting. Tactics for forums; investigate facts, offer to resolve any complaints personally by senior person, take the high ground (suggest there are two sides of the story but dont disclose that info publicly), be honest, rally your friends, clients and peers.