Steve Seeman of Makovsky + Company’s Q: Just how seriously you should take an attack by a specific blogger/poster/reviewer?
Chris Abraham’s A: It is very important to notice, triage, and discuss (IM, email, call) every single online mention, especially the attacks.
In terms of tools you can use to make it easier to track all of these mentions, you can go very sophisticated and choose the tools offered by BuzzMetrics, BuzzLogic, Umbria, or Visible Technologies (TruCast and TruView); however, just making sure you (and yours) set up much more basic tools, including “persistent search” RSS feeds and a very handy tool: Google Alerts – http://www.google.com/alerts.
Using free tools such as those offered by companies like Attensa, NewsGator, Particls, and Bloglines, can help you set up a pretty good personal clippings service. At the very least, if you’re a project lead, why rely on your intern to deliver all of your morning clippings? Take some responsibility yourself. Make sure that Google Alerts is set up for each client as I will describe below (search term works like Google).
Check out your search term in advance. Chose more than one term, making sure you have any version of your client’s name, both short and long form. “Type” should be comprehensive, encompassing news, blogs, web, and groups. “How often” should really be set to “as it happens” because the Internet is a series of now, now now. tThen enter your email, which will need to be verified by you.
Spend an afternoon popping all of your clients in there, all the Executives, the high-profile participants, any of the products and services — the whole enchilada. You may get pissed off because of all of the emails you will be receiving now. Well, just be sure these emails don’t end up in your SPAM folder. Also, don’t get so used to the alerts that you don’t check them. I find a lot of important stuff just using these alerts even if I don’t have the time to check my RSS feeds, etc.
The email alerts are super easy and although it takes a couple minutes to set up, these alerts that come to you will continue coming for the rest of your life or until Google goes out of business. Google Alerts is even more useful now that Google Blog Search has progressed and advanced in the last few months.
The great thing about some of the more advanced tools offered by BuzzLogic, BuzzMetrics, Umbria, and Visible Technologies, is that they are expensive but powerful metrics tools, offering the ability to track online conversation from ground zero, through all of the echoes, and through all levels of influence: influencers and repeaters; content-creators and amplifiers.
To answer your question, you should take all attacks seriously and you should take attacks by highly-influential blogs more seriously. How do you identify a highly influential blog? Well, that’s a great question. Like fishing holes, the best bloggers try to keep their most insightful blogs a little quiet. I used to think that one merely needed to look at PageRank on Google, or rank on Alexa, or even the authority on Technorati; however, I don’t know if that is the best method since some of the most important reading lists and most influential sources, are as likely to be “high-authority” as they are not. Someone once told me, “Hey, it’s not how many people read it, but who they are!”
Don’t forget that in the war of online messaging and online reputation, both the last word and the most words win.
Blog search engines such as Technorati, Feedster, and BlogPulse only care about the last word. If you can reply to a negative, hurtful brand hit, then you can dominate the conversation and win the debate in most cases.
Google cares about everything, but the latest word isn’t always indexed yet. In the world of Google, the better indexed site always wins. Maximize your knowledge about SEO and
You can’t control online conversation unless you participate. To quote Sernovitz, “You’ll never be able to control the blogosphere conversation. Don’t even try. You’ll never be able to manage your blog coverage like you manage the press. Don’t even try. But what you can do is participate, earn respect, and tell your story. Jump in, join the conversation, and be a part of it”. The only way to get indexed by Google or to show up on Technorati, Feedster, and BlogPulse is to be an online opinion leader who has a site that has made it out of Technorati, Feedster, BlogPulse, Yahoo!, MSN, and Google’s sandbox, and has a SEO and a Blog Search Engine strategy.
You have to initiate membership, become part of the conversation, build street cred, have an SEO and blog strategy, and become a respected online opinion leader before something goes awry. It is important that you begin establishing yourself as soon as you begin building your company. Visibility and influence online takes time, so it’s best to start building early, so that when your product or service is ready for launch, you won’t have to wait another six months to become visible.
The first rule of crisis management is to not rise to bait, and do not get all tar-babied up in the comments sections. People who visit the comments sections are generally in love with the blog author already. The best way to respond to a negative post is to post a response on your own blog.
I use the analogy of bloggers-as-professors and blog readers as students: no matter how intense the conversation in the course of class, even if it is between students and the prof, the only important conversations that happen at a University is the discourse between professors.
And how often do these kinds of attacks really result in either first-page Google returns or in a pick up by TechCrunsh or Engaget — unless of course someone does something to stir up blood in the water. Knee-jerk crisis response can amplify something that is just joshing, bullshit, or grand-standing. I mean, I beat the shit out of
Anyway, engaging attacks is generally a bad idea. Counter-messaging is truly the only recourse you have, and defensive SEO, to do your best to clean the sheets after all the mayhem is done.