There was a great example of the importance of Online Reputation Management in the Grand Rapids Press yesterday:
Grandville Officials Surprised to Find Unofficial Facebook Page for City
Published: Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 2:23 AM | Matt Vande Bunte, The Grand Rapids Press
GRANDVILLE — As part of an effort to promote a “road diet” on Chicago Drive SW, Grandville officials looked into creating a Facebook page. But they found out the city already has a presence on the social networking website. Although unofficial, the site looks like what city officials had in mind. “We can’t figure out who’s doing it,” said Matt Butts, assistant city manager. “I was going to reply (to the anonymous page administrator): ‘This looks great. Who are you? Can we work together?'” (More)
I wouldn’t be surprised if the city found out one of its own employees was managing the page for the organization; they may have their own Skunkworks operating without the knowledge of the administrators.
It’s 2010 – so any organization worth its salt should already have its toes in the social networking water. At the very least, everyone should go out and reserve the aliases that match your organization so that you have the option to use them later on.
A tool like Namechk can help you with that – it allows you to search multiple social networking platforms for the availability of a particular alias. From there you can begin monitoring for mentions of your organization, doing the rudimentary task of using your social networking presences as channels to syndicate news about your organization, and move up to higher-eschelon tasks like learning about the forums/environments that your stakeholders inhabit and participating in them.