How to Manage Website Comments and Discussion about your Small Business

People sure love to give their opinions. This being the case, your small business will end up as a topic of conversation in an article, review, blog or comment. So, it’s only in your best interest to be aware of these mentions and try to direct the discussion.

Firstly, you have to know when your company or products are being mentioned. Secondly,  analyze the article or blog’s content and decide whether or not to respond.  And lastly, develop a strategy for what you want to accomplish with your response.

#1 Monitor

Create Some Alerts – You should be aware anytime your brand, company name or product is a topic of discussion. Go to  Google Alerts and setup an alert. You’ll receive periodic emails and/or mobile texts with summaries and links anytime your keywords are found in web, blog, news, video or discussions. It’s also a great way to keep tabs on your competition and marketplace. I would recommend getting an alert based on Google News daily and regular Google weekly, but it really depends on your situation.

Another great tool for social media monitoring that sends alerts is Backtype. It is probably the most popular way to monitor social networks. It is an index of online discussions across blogs, websites and social networks and a great way to find out your company’s online reputation.

You should also set up email alerts at Social Mention. This will  search for keywords across an expanse of the Social Media space and update you regularly Their tagline is “Like Google Alerts but for social media.”

Yacktrack will search specifically on blog comments, which makes it a valuable tool for monitoring.

I like to do regular searches on  Twitter for keywords. Click on “Save this search” from the results page, so you can reuse them. Facebook also now has a realtime search engine. It’s on the right of your Facebook page.

#2 Analyze

Once you know what people are saying about your company,  you have to make a decision on whether or not you should comment or reply to comments from others.

Your first consideration is the potential effect of the comments on your customers. Are the readers of the site your customers? How popular is is the site and what impact will those comments have?

It not be the best use of your time to engage and respond to all comments, so you need to determine who the key players are in your market and focus your attention there.

A great tool which can help with this is Google Analytics. It’s a free tool that gives you a lot of statistics about your website. The most important one for our purposes is Referring Sites. This will tell you which sites are sending traffic to your site. These are the ones you should visit to evaluate comments about your company. For example, if most of your traffic is coming from Twitter, you’ll want to spend your efforts there.

Note that Analytics doesn’t currently support sites on WordPress.com, but WordPress.com has it’s own statistics section with similar information.

#3 How to Respond

Remember that you don’t have to reply to every mention of your company. It would be unproductive if you did. But, if you decide to reply, you should follow some of these commonsense guidelines:

Positive Posts

  • Keep the momentum going, more comments mean the original article will get more attention.
  • Adding additional relevant information (link to articles at your site)
  • Point out highlights and areas of agreement with the original post
  • Engage personally with the writer and other commenters (call them by name)
  • Ask questions and solicit options
  • Thank them for insights

Negative Posts

  • Use negative comments as an opportunity to set the record straight
  • Take the high road, don’t get emotional or be condescending
  • Provide links to your site or others with positive comments
  • Be a leader, and don’t give in to misinformation
  • Guide the conversation

Summary

It’s important to manage the online reputation of your company, brand and products. My experience with the alerting tools mentioned above has been good and they will help you get a handle on things. Your company reputation is community-driven, based on human engagement and interaction. You can build a strong online profile by being part of the conversation.

I’m always looking to hear about your experiences with Digital Marketing.  If you are aware of any other good tools or techniques for monitoring and commenting, please share them below.

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