Part 1: Balancing Act
In a perfect digital world of electronic data and internet that is accessible anytime anywhere, where everyone is honest and there is no identify issues of profiles and online businesses you wouldn’t have to worry. But in our reality, there are hundreds of thousands of individuals that impersonate people and business’ just because they can, those fraudulent actions will continue to conquer business pages every day until you do something. If your company is not responsive and claim their online listings and profiles, it could happen to them. Plus, directory sites help your rankings on the search engines and who doesn’t love that.
The first step in this process is to develop your strategy by assigning a team or individual the daunting task. Depending on how large your company is, will determine the amount of individual’s it will take to do the task correctly. This is not a dream job, but is one of the most important and necessary one for a company not to overlook. This is a multiple step process so create your team accordingly. This will set your starting line, make sure this person is a motivated individual and can be a blood hound on the internet, be intuitive to know where and how to look, and someone who won’t give up easily. They will need organization skills as well as great follow-up skills in the case of reclaiming a listing someone took already.
Secondly, you will want to develop a timeline of goals and what you want to accomplish, and update this regularly with sites you’ve found, claimed, unclaimed, new accounts created and whatever else you find out on the world wide web.
Next, your team will start by completing a search of the businesses name, always include misspellings, different variations of the business name such as Inc, LLC, shortened name, abbreviations, subsidiary’s, DBA’s, and look for location differences as well. Just remember to never end your search with one search engine, you will want to look at all options such as the big dogs of search engines Bing, MSN, Google, Yahoo, and Ask, to obtain the most comprehensive list of possible online profiles you can find and claim.
So now what, your company has found and claimed and/or created all of these online presences, what do you do with them now? The most important thing your business can do is monthly management; keep all of your online accounts up-to-date with correct business information, hours, address, phone for your customers. If your hours change or you move, don’t forget about your online presence this needs to keep up with you. You don’t need upset customers showing up to your old place of business or come when you are closed – you will probably lose their business.
If you do find your business profile online but it has already been claimed, you will need to contact the customer service for that platform (Facebook, google+, etc.) to start the claiming process for that listing. Sometimes it is as simple as having proof of tax id and sending it to them on company letterhead from the president of the company or with your LLC or INC paperwork. It solely depends on the platform the online presence is on.
You might be on the other side of the fence and cannot find any online listings for you to claim, that’s great, but you still are not out of the woods. Without proper online presence your chance of being found is limited. You will want to strategize on what accounts to create according to your business locations, geography and demographics of your audience.
The last thought today is make sure to keep track of all business usernames, custom url’s, passwords, emails associated with the account, when account was created and who is managing the account. I’ve been using KeePass Password Safe database (keepass.info) for 10 years and it’s free so bonus for your business. You can install on desktop or a flash drive for convenience.