sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9/sitemap.xsd BrandArena: Reputation Management: Ensuring Effective Online Brand Surveillance

Monday, 31 October 2011

Reputation Management: Ensuring Effective Online Brand Surveillance

Online Reputation Management, the act of monitoring, addressing or maximizing the benefits of online mentions and Web sphere content is now a very hot item on every business to-do list.

Companies are facing threats from all directions and the most deadly seem to be coming directly from disgruntled customers “tweeting and facebooking” their thoughts away. Research in Motion (RIM), the manufacturer of Blackberry’s recent nightmare is an ideal case. Thousands of fans descended massively on the brand, shredding its image and reputation repeatedly for days even after the blackout ended.

Another example is a research report anchored by a social media research firm, Amplicate, and published in the New York Daily News on Thursday, last week, which revealed that only 12 percent of opinions of American Airlines made using Twitter and Facebook were positive. American Airlines was subsequently voted ‘most hated airline on social media’ due to most Twitter, Facebook jeers. As a result of this, the image and reputation of the brand would be gravely impacted negatively.

Eric Qualman, the author of Socialnomics: “How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business”, also revealed that over 96 percent of Generation Y has joined or have joined at least one social network. No doubt, new digital technologies have and will continue to reshape all areas of business. Thus, it is imperative for organizations to evaluate the implications, opportunities and advantages available for their business growth.

In Nigeria today, The BEAT 99.9 FM radio station presently has over 361,628 fans, one of the highest in the country on Facebook while Guaranty Trust Bank, Sprite, Star Lager Beer, Samsung Nigeria also have over 192,380; 91,847; 53,721; 29,138 fans respectively. Companies have the ability to harness the power of social media, but that power can bring along huge loses especially in the area of brand reputation. When left unmonitored, they also have the capability to destroy any brand, no matter how reputable or well known.

It is necessary for brands to act consistently with the awareness that Online Reputation Management (ORM) primarily involves tracking what is written about a client on the Internet, then utilizing sophisticated online and offline techniques in promoting positive content, while at the same time pushing down those links brands may not want to appear when their name is searched.

At first glance, it seems the emergence of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ as a platform for social networking can only enhance the ability of these brands to create value for their customers.

The consumer has been king for quite a while now and with new social world, the consumer is more powerful than ever before. Consumers’ Facebook statuses, tweets, blogs and YouTube videos can build or break any brand in the eyes of their online friends – and your potential buyers.

The problem with this line of reasoning, however, is that consumers’ need for self-expression is not without limits and, like any other need, can be satisfied. Self-expression not effectively gauged or managed on the face of social network could make or mar any organization, considering the fact that information seekers and givers do not filter their opinions as their actions on social networks are seen as fun or hobbies, just like listening to one’s favorite music, cheering a sports team or socializing with family and friends.

It is thus each company’s responsibility to make its own voice heard effectively and positively in all this noise. Customers should be given positive news and information to discuss online – not only will this encourage further discussion of one’s brand, but any positive news will proactively boost a brand’s reputation.

The real-time speed and person-to-person intimacy of social media has made it easier for companies to show that they’re listening by responding quickly and personally to individuals through their online medium of choice.

While it may seem overwhelming, there are steps to consider for protecting a company and their brand(s) such as assembling a team or small group of individuals to closely monitor consumer feedback at every point in time. Social media interaction doesn’t end when business hours do, and quick responses can avert a potential disaster. This team should also be responsible for investigating suspicious activity, such as theft, counterfeiting, and other crimes.

Secondly, there is a need to establish corporate guidelines that are updated frequently. It’s important to document what your company’s expectations are regarding social media. Lawsuits and public relations nightmares are a few consequences of the lack of corporate guidelines on this matter. And there is always a need to establish a response system. Companies need to establish an internal response system when monitoring complaints online.

According to Onifade Collins, a brand consultant, the social network platform needs to be managed by experts who have updated information about customer relations management or public relations in order to evaluate and monitor comments, observation and complains about their brands.

His word: “information is very powerful, therefore a brand that uses the social network as a marketing tool to reach its customers must be active. Some companies just believe the social networking sites are a good customer interactive and engagement platform that they can move into without understanding that the more they use it as a marketing tool, the more the need arises to make sure that consumers’ comments are treated by professionals in customer relations or public relations practitioners who are pregnant with innovative ideas and information to feed the curious consumers when they need it.

An ICT Consultant, Emeka Anthony feels the popularity of the social media makes it a powerful tool and companies need to manage it correctly. In his words, “not only can these new channels be used for customer services and interaction, but they are also invaluable as online brand management tools. These allow brands to monitor and collect data on what customers are saying and react to it in real time, whether the issue is in PR, sales and marketing or product development.”

Tosin Akinleye, an entrepreneur shares Anthony’s views. Explaining further he said, “. If companies do not make sure that what their customers say about them on social media platform is managed then their reputation is at risk, especially those companies with large fan bases on the social network.”

3 comments:

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