I regularly take interest in a number of online marketing topics, but I especially take interest in the process of branding, which I believe to be inextricably correlated with reputation management. I believe online reputation management has reached epic heights regarding its warrant of immediate, consistent, and ongoing attention.
Rep management can’t help but rub elbows with social media. Sites like Twitter are bastions of real-time news, news adopting all forms, such as consumer feedback regarding goods, services, and overall brand experience. Does your brand have representation on major social platforms (Facebook, Twitter)? Maybe you rely on stats (such as these, which may persuade a local business from participation) to make an educated decision. However, stats can be convincing depending on delivery; the real question to ponder relates to whether your brand can afford the exceptions.
Let me use a real-time, social media example. Today, I received a text message from a 647-760-1329 number:
“You have been selected for the $1000 Best Buy Holiday Overstock Shopping Spree Giveaway! Claim yours at http://redeem6.com/u/?17Ind683“
In retrospect, and I hope the Overstock brand accepts this sentence and entire post as an apology for my rashness, I should have pursued the source (Best Buy?) of the text further rather than immediately engaging one of the Overstock brand’s Twitter accounts; but, I took action, as any consumer with a social media account may do, tweeting to Overstock regarding the unwelcomed text and text-to-URL prompt.
Overstock promptly responded, first expressing the peculiarity of the text because the brand was not running any such promotions and then asked me to send the text for further inspection. I gladly obliged, then looked into the matter further and realized the URL redirects a consumer to a Web page which seems to be directly or indirectly related to the Best Buy brand.
I tweeted the info back to the Overstock brand and “cc’d” one of Best Buy‘s Twitter accounts. I hope the Overstock brand “got to the bottom” of the matter since it’s likely other people erroneously associated the brand with the unwelcome text too (whether they reacted or not).
What I would like to bring to the attention of big brands, like Overstock, and small brands, like any mom-and-pop brand, is the immediate “voice” consumers have regarding your brand’s perception. I’ll admit, Overstock wasn’t the first brand I engaged on Twitter; I have been trying to get the attention of the NY Times for some time now regarding newsstand prices of printed editions (depending on your locale, could exceed $20 per week!).
The Times has not responded to my social media nudges. Have I doomed the Times’ brand with my tweets (which received no attention)? No. Are those my intentions? No. Is a huge, money-making brand, like the New York Times, going to spend time on me, someone so ostensibly ‘small’ considering the grand scheme of readers and revenue streams… I don’t know; I can’t speak for the brand, just myself, but if I was them, I would spend time on my consumers, big and small, because for one, it’s best practice regarding branding and reputation management, but more importantly, because they’re my consumers. Overstock seemed to spare some “room” in its big-business day to respond to little-ole me; it’s appreciated and much respected.
Hey, the majority of business owners out there, what if yours is a smaller brand, and one poor, online review from a consumer (say one who happens to be a blogger) has a larger impact? What happens when poor online reviews begin taking precedence regarding SERPs? What happens when Twitter and Facebook-platform-based searches render poor sentiments of your brand? What kind of impression are present and future consumers/business partners going to have on you and your brand? Can you afford to ignore the online “voice” of your customers?
Let’s end with a positive voice. What if a consumer, pleased with your brand and its services, products, and brand decisions, championed your brand on social media platforms, and took matters further, blogging about it for online browsers to see and experience? Wouldn’t that be something?