A problem that we see a lot of companies facing, especially with the pace that information spreads on the web, is that they can’t seem to keep track of how they are being viewed outside of their company. Business Logs and 9rules, Inc. didn’t have this problem a few months back for we were still under people’s radars so it was fairly easy to see what people thought of us. Fortunately we are starting to attract more opinions about our business and surprisingly (well okay, not really) some of the stuff we find is very different than what we thought we were like.
For example, we always believed that we could make 9rules a very big deal, otherwise we wouldn’t have started it. Since working on the Network back in May we lost sight of how people viewed us. In our minds we are still small and that’s probably because we know everything that is happening from the inside. Here is just one example of what someone thinks about us:
I think in most markets you are going to have the big 3(gawker, weblogsinc, 9rules) and then the rest. The rest can be successful, but the big 3 will be the most talked about. It will be interesting to see if anybody can dislodge any of the big 3 over the coming year, although I find that highly doubtful. The big 3 in this case appear to have oodles of traffic more than any of the others(including my own).
Comment #4 from Is There Room for Another Blog Network?
Part of the Big 3?! As great as it is to read that, we never saw a Big 3, although we can definitely quantify a Big 2 (WIN and Gawker). That just makes me wonder what other people think of us. How can we check this kind of stuff? Sure Technorati and PubSub have been a big help, but they are just tracking the small amount of people who are actually writing about us. What about the people who have negative feelings towards us, how can we get access to their thoughts if they do not write them down or publish them?
Besides doing some surveys you can’t. However, with the tools the web provides you can track what things are being said by the people who do publish them, and we always like to respond to people regardless of they are critical or give us praise. Yesterday, while looking at my referrer logs I noticed this link from Yay Hooray forums and began to read with earnest. Here are the two comments that made my eyes bulge out of my head:
9rules has attracted some good writers. Personally I don’t see the draw and Paul Scrivens (of 9rules/whitespace) is one of the most annoying human beings in existence.
Yeah Scrivens comes off as a jackass.
While it’s great to be talked about, it’s not so great having people think of me this way because the feelings they associate with me are probably the same ones they associate with the Network (another issue to discuss later). So what could I do in this situation? If it was just myself that represented the company I would have nothing to worry about, but I have to look out for the reputations of Mike, Matthew, Colin and 60 other people so this was definitely a big deal for me.
I decided I would simply go along with it by saying:
I agree I can’t stand the guy and I have to look at him in the mirror and sleep in the same bed with him everyday.
The end result? I am not sure if the feelings of the original commentors changed, but I seem to have garnered some respect by a few others for doing so. The whole point was to not make myself look worse off and I think I accomplished that. I could have left the whole thread well enough alone, but that leaves my reputation in someone else’s hands instead of my own.
You can’t be aware of how everyone views your company or yourself, but you can be aware of the ones that are willing to speak out and its those people that you must initiate conversations with. That’s what makes weblogs so important for companies. You can’t control what people say about you, but you can control the medium that it takes place in and therefore manage your reputation a bit easier. That’s the value we see in blogs.
As for checking your reputation? Just read what people have to say about you, but keep it in perspective. Some individuals just have a negative viewpoint about certain things while others may throw nothing but praise your way. It’s your job to be selective and decide whose comments are the ones your company needs to worry about.