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The explosion of social media use has meant that online reputation management is becoming increasingly important for companies of all sizes — and in certain cases, even important for individual real estate professionals.

Wendy Forsythe wrote about the need to manage your personal brand on the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate blog this week that nicely sums up the reasons why.

So, how do you deal with getting started managing your online reputation?

Why not just listen first?

Before you can react to any situation that may occur, you need to be aware of that situation. Here are five tools I’ve found to be very useful in tuning in to online conversations.

Google Alerts

The granddaddy of reputation management tools. If you don’t have a Google Alert set up for your name already, stop right here and go and set one up.

StepRep

StepRep emerged into beta a few weeks ago and it’s like Google Alerts on steroids. It scans not only search results for your name but also many of the more popular social networks.

StepRep lets you build your reputation by embedding positive reviews or stories about yourself into your Web site through a small widget. Promoting stories with good things to say about you or your brand is a good way to build credibility. It reinforces your reputation and reassures your customers.

Ever wonder why many small sites launch with links and logos from media companies smeared all over them? They’re looking to establish that credibility.

Trackur

Trackur is another full-featured social media monitoring solution that gives you a full dashboard-like environment that helps you keep track of your brand, key individuals and your competitors. Probably overkill for most individuals, it does provide a nice trend analysis for companies wanting to see how often (or not) their brand is mentioned.

BackType

BackType is a new service that scans all the comments on blog posts; a place that Google Alerts often neglects. Google may pick up on an original blog post that contains your name, but may or may not index the comments on other posts where your name pops up. You can set up an RSS feed or e-mail alert whenever you or your brand is mentioned.

Twitter Search

The use of Twitter is a communications case study unto itself (check out the fantastic Twitter for Business series from Gahlord Dewald on how you can implement Twitter into your business).

But, if you’re not ready to dive into Twitter just yet, an easy way to stay on top of what’s being said is to plug your name or brand into Twitter’s search tool and keep track of the results. Twitter provides a handy RSS feed for your query, which you can pipe into your reader for daily monitoring.

Originally posted on the Future of Real Estate Marketing blog. Joel Burslem is vice president of content at Inman News.

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