About a year ago, I wrote a video-game review that prompted an outcry on dozens of blogs. I felt blindsided by the amount of negative feedback. As a tech journalist with a big Web presence, I'm used to getting both kudos and criticism. But for the first time, I wished I had a way to manage my online reputation. Recently, I tried two services, Social Mention and MyReputation, to see if they could help.
Social Mention is a free service that scours more than 100 social-media sites, including Twitter and Facebook, for mentions of your personal or business brand. To get started, I typed my name and Twitter handle in a box on the service's homepage. Within seconds, a page popped up with a list of mentions preceded by red, green, or gray dots indicating if comments were negative, positive, or neutral given the words they contained (for example, lame or awesome).
For the most part, the results were accurate. I was chagrined, but not shocked, to see dozens of negative mentions—mostly in Twitter posts—about my infamous video-game review. I spent an hour responding to my critics. Upon close examination, I realized the system incorrectly flagged a few comments as negative. For instance, one reader used the word embarrassing to describe a company I wrote about, not the article itself—or, thankfully, the author.
The page also featured a few helpful stats summarizing my online reputation. For example, my "sentiment" score of 9:1 meant I had nine positive mentions for every negative one. Not bad. The site also listed some of my most active Twitter followers, whom I spent about an hour thanking for their loyalty.
MyReputation, a more robust service offered by Reputation.com, starts at $99 a year. It uses proprietary technology to search any sites crawled by search engines. To kick-start the search, I entered my contact information, a few links to recent articles, and my LinkedIn job history.
After an hour, a report appeared on my dashboard. Of all the mentions of me online, 97 percent were neutral, 1 percent were positive, and just 2 percent were negative. Phew. My "visibility" rank, which indicates how often my name appears on the first page of Google search results, was 30 percent.
The dashboard also included a list of hundreds of mentions of me, mostly in blog and story comments. I could sort the results by site category, search rank, date, and tone, which helped focus my responses. (MyReputation can also post positive information about you online to improve your search-engine results, but a company representative said my Web presence was too big for that service to be effective.)
By the end of my experiment, I had a much more complete picture of my online reputation. More important, I had a better system for responding to fans and critics. After all, it's one thing to find out what people are saying about you. It's another thing to change the conversation.
Social Mention (free) |Best for monitoring social media.
MyReputation ($99 a year for a starter plan) |Best for monitoring blogs, forums, and review sites.