The web complicated the process, but a simple search would still unearth any nasty comments tucked in a dark corner of the Internet. Before social media, any disparaging remarks would sit, mostly ignored, until they were pushed off the page by other content or removed.
Twitter and Facebook have given customers and competitors a stage and a megaphone to wreak havoc on any brand. They don’t need your permission and you can’t opt-out of social media. Someone, somewhere is talking about your brand and you can’t control what they will say.
Reputation management used to be a luxury reserved for large brands with massive agency resources. PR would swoop in and “handle” any crisis. Now a comment on Twitter can grow from a spark, to a brush fire, to an inferno in under 24 hours.
Here’s the rub, submitting a rebuttal press release with the facts will do nothing to douse the flames. The influencers who are spreading the message will most likely not see the press release. Worse, these folks are “spin-proof”. Clumsy attempts to manage the crisis will only spray gasoline on the problem.
Conscientious brands require a new socially-powered process for protecting and building their brands image.
Ignoring the Social Web is A Business Killer
A poor online reputation attacks every aspect your business like a cancer:
Marketing: Generating demand for a product is difficult if poor reviews, mentions, and Facebook posts stand in the way. An unattended reputation reinforces the notion that your brand is unresponsive, a critical flaw in a fluid marketplace.
Sales: Your prospects will go online to do their product research. Google will dutifully serve up brand news, the good and the bad. A search on LinkedIn will reveal any negative remarks circulating among LinkedIn’s 200 million professional members. The professional media, tipped off by Twitter retweets may mention or write a post about the latest juicy rumor. Without reputation management, your sales team will be walking into an ambush totally unprepared.
HR: The battle for top-notch talent is getting tougher every day. Candidates are doing their research and making a decision based on your company’s culture. Any negative comments left unanswered will factor into your candidate’s decision-making process.
Investor Relations: Savvy investors use RSS feeds and news gathering apps to keep them informed about companies on their radar. These tools are configured to scour the web and social media networks for any news. Simply ignoring these networks allows the media to shape the news without your input. We believe that IR Social Monitoring will grow in importance.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ve seen poor reputation management impact customer service, point-of-sale, and internal communications too.
The Social Web is talking about you. Even if you don’t have the capacity to respond, your brand needs to be aware of the conversation.
Set-up Monitoring Immediately
It’s important to have your finger on the pulse of your brand. At Fluency, We use a blend of 3rd party monitoring tools and good ole’ fashion elbow grease to stay abreast of our client’s brand online.
Your brand should focus on finding where your brand is being discussed and which players are influential in that space. Update this information weekly and be prepared to respond if something threatens to spin out of control.
Create a Pro-Active Reputation Strategy
Reputation Management is difficult to do in the middle of a crisis. Like most things, it’s important to be prepared with a comprehensive plan from the beginning. Our client’s start with identifying advocates, establishing a response process, and proactively building relationships with key influencers before a crisis hits.
Involve Your Entire Team
Ask your employees to keep their eyes open and report anything they see on the networks they participate in. Walk your employees through the process of reporting any news to the right stakeholders in your organization. Go one step further and reward anyone who uncovers and correctly reports any negative news.
According to a recent Harris Survey, of the customers that received a response from a company after posting negative feedback, 33% turned around and posted a positive review, and 34% deleted the original negative review. Customers are empowered and gracious. The key is finding the negative comment in enough time to make a difference.
What are your reputation management challenges? Do you have a strategy in place?