With the growing use and spread of information technology, consumers and competition alike don’t have to go far to talk about your brand. These sentiments both positive and negative can be shared fairly quickly and it is therefore imperative for any brand manager to stay ontop of things.
In context, conversations on social media and other sites can be consumed by over 2 billion people globally. While this in its entirety may not be your audience, your consumers lurk therein and they influence the choices of peers. Where possible, consumers check out reviews, blogs or post questions about brands before they make the purchase decisions.
To control your reputation online, you must ensure that first and foremost you put out relevant content about your organization, its products or services and make it easy for consumers to reach you. This can be achieved by way of a website or a blog, which must be kept upto date to maintain relevance.
Secondly you must keep abreast of conversations happening around your product, service and industry. You can make use of a myriad of tools both free and proprietary to track these conversations. Some of these tools are Radian 6, Google alerts, Social Mentions, Kurrently, Tweetbeep, Simplify360,ThoughtBuzz,Sysomos,Lithium, iEngage, Alterian, Brandwatch, Omllion and Reputeme. This list is by no means exhaustive but it gives a place to start. There are a number of startups locally building similar tools but none has got descent traction yet.
With the tools in place, now comes the skill of use. Your message must be crafted for an online audience and this doesn’t mean regurgitated responses from press releases. As a business you must also listen and create a two way channel of communication that will elicit a response from your audience. Depending on your audience, figure out the information that is best shared as not all information is created equal and you do not want to flood user timelines and inboxes with unnecessary information.
Through optimization, ensure that you are the first touch point that a consumer encounters when they do a search on you. If they can’t find you, then you don’t exist and someone will gladly fill in that gap.
The main reason for doing all of the above is to improve consumer interaction and satisfaction, which often times has to do with dealing with complaints. This presents the best opportunity to generate a positive third party talk up of your brand. Some local companies like Safaricom have plugged in these tools into their customer service with excellent results and improved consumer happiness indexes.
Maybe it’s time you focused on your online reputation management.