In years past, brand monitoring was a whole different than it is today. In those days of not so long ago, you’d hire a clipping service that sent you copies of ads and articles of your brand mentions in the print media or on radio and TV. Your reputation could also be tracked through customer complaint calls or a suggestion box within your store. However, the majority of discussions about your brand were conversations between neighbors at the backyard grill or employees around the water cooler – and CEO’s and their companies had no idea what these private talks were about.
Things have changed… dramatically.
Now those water cooler conversations are happening online. People enjoy having their voices heard, whether anonymously or not, through the internet. It’s quick, it’s easy and the forum is huge. Now, your brand could be mentioned in thousands, potentially millions of places on the internet, and you may not even have a clue that it’s going on. Conversations and ideas can spread like wildfire over the internet through tweets, blogs, chat rooms and emails. Something negative about your brand could mushroom into a company-threatening disaster within a very short time if you’re unaware of what’s going on and know how to handle the crisis.
The good news is that you do have the opportunity to put the glass to your ear and eavesdrop on these conversations by monitoring threads on the internet. You just need the time, patience and energy to dedicate to a concentrated brand monitoring campaign.
Social media has played a large part in an increased awareness about products and social events. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and other sites exist as tools to bring you and your company to life. Take advantage of it! Monitoring these sites is imperative if you want to know what’s being said about you and your business. Just because you’re not on these social media sites doesn’t mean your brand isn’t. While you’re ignoring the social media sites because you think you don’t have time for them, Joey from Iowa might be mentioning your brand on Facebook right now. Seconds later, Huan from China can read it and repost to his friends. Just like that… your brand has traveled half way around the world this morning before you take your first sip of that double mocha latte.
Your company’s reputation is at stake. The worst thing you can do is turn a blind eye and bury your head in the sand and ignore the buzz, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent. You need to be listening. And you also need to understand how and why they are talking about your brand or company.
Forecasting potential trends when monitoring your brand is an art in itself and takes some marketing savvy to figure out. But generally speaking, whether the internet talk is primarily positive or negative, it will give you valuable insight into your customers’ minds – and that’s good – as long as you’re aware of it and able to take advantage of the positives and correct the negative aspects in time.
Monitoring your brand means you’re going to have to be a good listener and keep an open mind. Sometimes it’ll mean biting your lip and turn the other cheek. Listen carefully to every comment, both good and bad. Unless the situation is critical, you should spend the majority of your initial time just listening to what others have to say. You can learn a lot about your customers (and yourself) by monitoring these little conversations across the cyberspace.
Now let’s say that you discover someone is blogging about your product, praising it. You may want to respond to the blog, thanking them and posting that your company values their opinion and is striving to continue living up to the quality and reputation it has been given. Let them know it is you. They will be impressed that you are personally taking the time to visit their site and that you are interested in what they are saying. You may also want to email them and offer to send them, free of charge, a sample of another product they may be interested in. Just make sure it’s a friendly gesture and you’re not asking them to write about the new product or pushing for more praise. You’ll quickly lose their respect if you do.
Let’s say you discover negative comments on several blogs or on a social media site. You must quickly make a determination of what the problem is and how to fix it. Perhaps there’s an underlying problem that isn’t being addressed. This is where you have to act fast and diagnose the real problem as fast as possible. Once you understand why people are being negative, then the best thing could be to stand up and address the problem immediately. Acknowledge the situation and state what you’re doing to correct the issue. You’ll gather a measure of respect for being forthright.
If you’re concerned with liability issues, obviously consult with your attorney first – just don’t wait days to do so. Doing nothing or a delayed response could be your worst mistake, especially if the sentiment quickly escalates and gets out of hand. We’ve all seen large companies mishandle a problem by staying silent, only to watch the public outrage grow until it’s out of hand.
There are a hundreds of programs and services out there to monitor your brand, each works a little differently. Some of them can be expensive and even if they’re not costly, they can take an enormous amount of your time to fully understand and utilize effectively. The choices can make your head spin. If you’re serious about your reputation awareness, it may be wise to hire a firm that can set up a brand monitoring program for you. A good agency can maximize your dollars by utilizing a sophisticated toolkit of programs and experienced strategists that can analyze the myriad of internet conversations and convert it into useful data that your company can benefit from.
For those who want to test the waters on their own before committing to a full-fledged brand monitoring program, here are three free helpful tools that can get you started. These tools specifically target social media conversations, which is a good place to start.
Openbook – is a resource that allows you to search for your brand on Facebook and monitor the conversations that include those keywords. Since Facebook is the most popular social media site, this is a good way to see who is saying what.
TweetDeck – is a great way to organize messages from Twitter and other social media, including Facebook. You can search and monitor conversations that deal with specific keywords or phrases.
Keep in mind, a comprehensive brand monitoring program will need to include a number of tools, because each one has limitations and the only way to capture an accurate snapshot of your brand is to use as many of these resources as possible. Also, don’t forget that a lot of time and energy is needed to fully examine the depth of your reputation awareness on the worldwide web. All of this dedication can be worth it and pay off big time for your brand.
If you would like further information about how Brand Monitoring and Reputation Awareness can make your business/brand more effective, please contact one of our friendly Captivation representatives today. See how we can reduce your operating expenses, increase your productivity and make your company more competitive.