Social media efforts can come back to haunt a company. Earlier this year, McDonald's launched a campaign to promote the quality of its ingredients, using the Twitter hashtag #McDStories, only to see the clickable link hijacked by animal rights activists and other critics of the company. McDonald's ended up pulling the hashtag.

As businesses shepherd their brands in an increasingly volatile media environment, more are turning to services that track what is being said about them.

Companies need help in this area, says Anthony Johndrow, managing partner at the Reputation Institute, a global consultancy. "In the past, public and private companies managed their reputation by staying out of the limelight, but we have moved to a reputation-based economy now that most products and services are commodities," says Johndrow, pictured at right. "It is a company's reputation that matters."

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