Online Reputation Management is important and much needed to protect your brand. But, how do you manage it simply and efficiently?
First off, the biggest distinction we need to make is understanding the difference between online reputation management and online reputation monitoring.
Monitoring = where am I mentioned, how often, by whom, the sentiment (positive vs. negative)
Management = what do I actually do with all those mentions?
But before we continue, I think it is important to know that depending on the size of your business – your approach to ORM will differ.
For big, premium brands (like Coca Cola) it can often be close to impossible to manage every mention about your brand online. Not in terms of volume, but in terms of reaction-time. There’s a constant dialogue going on in all areas of the web. Large companies struggle to respond to each individuals complaint or query fast enough.
For smaller companies, it isn’t necessarily about finding mentions of your company online – although, please do stay in touch with your extended network to have your finger on the pulse, so to speak – but it might just be to use ORM tools to find opportunities for engagement. Thus, it becomes a matter of managing the opportunity rather than the reputation. For example, a plumbing company in Texas, might be able to track mentions of keywords related to that company’s industry, within its geographical area to see where there are opportunities to market its business.
Sounds a bit intimidating, doesn’t it? Now, to avoid going into a panic and giving up before you’ve even started I’m going to keep things simple for you. Here are my ingredients for successfully setting up, monitoring and managing your reputation online:
Step 1: analysis of you
- Size of your company
- Profile of your brand
- Relevance of your industry online
- Competition online
Step 2: analysis of your customer
- Are they even online?
- Where are they?
- What volumes
- Are they talking about your business?
- Are they talking about your industry?
- What language do they use in reference to your industry (what I mean with this is, where you might refer to complex industry buzz words, they might just be using an everyday word as a synonym for that)
Step 3: Choose the correct tools
Search your company name and a few specific keywords relevant to your brand on Google or any other search engine. This would give you quite a good indication on how verbal people are about your brand online.
Now, go to Twitter.com and do the same. Do the same with relevant key words and perhaps your competitors as well. Twitter is a gold mine when it comes to people articulating their opinions and views on anything from Governmental issues to cooking appliances. Twitter should always be a part of the management of your online reputation. In addition, search Facebook for any mentions about your brand or if you have a Fan Page, monitor the activity on it to see what people are saying.
Step 4: Get the posts, comments and news articles
While searching on the web, open every link you find and log it in an excel spreadsheet. When it comes to large amounts of mentions, you should rather use a suitable ORM tool to capture these mentions for you. You’ll be able to sort through these mentions and keep the one’s that are relevant to your brand. Remember to check for comments on all the posts you find.
Step 5: Respond
Where you find it appropriate, respond to questions, queries and misguided comments. Beware: Debates are very dangerous to take part in online. It could escalate and explode into a full on war online. Rather contact your unhappy consumer offline and deal with the problem in private. If you’re lucky, they might even blog about what great service they received!
Step 6: Revise
So you’ve been doing this for some time now; how can you improve, how can you adapt? Plan for future….
Basically, you need to find the online communities where people are chatting about your brand and monitor it. I mentioned Twitter and Facebook because they are such large social networks. There are plenty of other ‘micro’ social networks out there that might be more applicable to your brand or industry.
I’ve added a few extra resources for further reading on this: