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Customer and internet users are now armed with all the tools they need to wreak havoc on any business or individual. Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Yelp and some customer feedback and complain sites are the new ways of sharing frustrations and anger. The unfortunate part of it is that you can’t control what they will say about you or your business. But the good news is that there are equally brilliant and great tools that can help you monitor and respond accordingly to all the negative noise on the web about you and your business to protect your online reputation. There are now countless social media tools out there for managing your social reputation.

You need to have a plan to work with. Do not just start monitoring because its a new trend. Put your thoughts into writing if you are the social media strategist or manager of your business. You should have a plan with goals to achieve and targets to meet. Are you monitoring to protect just the company or its executives as well or tracking social comments for marketing purposes. Establish that right from the beginning.

It’s your job to find out where you or your brand is being discussed and respond if you have to. You can either employ a social media manager to take care of that or delegate one of your employees to monitor your brand. It’s also important to get all your employees to look out for comments that can harm you or your business.

Brand and reputation management are now key components of most business.  A lot of businesses have  identified quality and great leads or customer care problems that may have gone unnoticed. In your monitoring process, its important to prioritize the issues and comments identified. You could group them into the ones you need to deal with now, good or negative and treatment later category.

It is important to also note that there is no single best tool to manage and control every comment or statement on the web. The tool or combination of tools your business will choose should combine with business goals and objectives. You can choose to choose to select multiple social tools you will find useful for your business. Try them out and watch out for progress and treatment.

The best part of social media monitoring is the ability to interpret the data you gather to improve your products, your operations and your customer service. If you have negative comments, do not treat them lightly.  Customers verge their anger mostly on what does not work, what is broken, unattended problem or poor  customer service. This is an opportunity to address those issues and fix what is broken. Forward concerns to appropriate departments for easy response.

A crucial part any social media monitoring is the ability to identify commentors with the loudest voice.Find out which of the them are influencers, how many followers they have,  how often are their tweets being  retweeted, how many external links point to their blog, and how many comments their posts attract, particularly the post you are tracking. The earlier you respond to influencers the better for your brand or  executives.

A lot of businesses have used the data and results they get from social tools to improve marketing strategies, to increase customer satisfaction, to generate customer insight. Make the best use of the results you find to protect your reputation and that of your business.

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Thomas Oppong is the founder @Alltopstartups.