Manage and Monitor Your Brand Reputation Online

With the popularity of social media it's not uncommon to hear stories of strong brands caught in the midst of an online controversy. One brand victim includes Starbucks. Employees at a Miami Starbucks posted inappropriate photos of Starbucks customers online using the social media tool Flickr. Now, Starbucks is well known in the social media space, they have several followers on Twitter, so how did this happen?

Another brand victim was Domino's Pizza. I won’t go into details, because if you didn’t see the video, I don’t want to make you lose your lunch – let’s just say there were two employees of Domino's Pizza doing very unhygienic things to the pizza they were preparing. It made national news and the video on YouTube received over 1 millions views. The video threatened the reputation of a brand that had been developed by a company for 50 years.

Don't be mistaken, just because you are a business and you are not using social media, don't think that your brand can't be hurt by it if you are not paying attention. The reality is, whether or not you are participating in social media - you are playing. Your brand in some way or another is being represented, either by you as a company, by your customers or by your employees.

Monitoring major social media platforms and solving issues that reflect poorly on your brand is one of the most important parts of any company's social media effort. As a business, the most important thing to remember is that even if you are not using social media, you need to be aware of what’s going on in the social media realm when it comes to your brand.

It doesn’t pay to turn a blind eye and, by doing so, it can, ultimately, be a detriment to your success.

We've all heard of brand monitoring and many of us, especially small to medium-sized businesses, in the past haven't seen the need. We'd just treat customers well and give them what they need and they'd tell their friends and family. Now that we have the internet and social media, it’s even more important to monitor our reputations, especially as business owners. I always remind the clients with whom I consult that it’s not just seven people one person will tell about your services, now it’s in the millions. This is especially true with the social media tools that are available and widely used, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

I don’t care if you don’t want to use social mediums to market your service or products, it’s more vital than ever to at least have an awareness of what’s being said within the social media realm about you, your brand, your products and your services. Sticking your head in the sand will only hurt you not help you.

How Can You Monitor and Protect the Reputation of Your Brand?

  • Step 1: Understand how the social media platforms work. Learn how to use Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. Become familiar with their platforms. Take a few moments and read the terms of services and watch and learn how people are using these social media outlets.

  • Step 2. Don’t assume that social media doesn’t affect you. When it comes to social mediums, there are not just thousands of users, there are millions. These users consist of your customers who are bloggers, influencers, columnists and public figures. These people are talking about companies. Are they talking about yours? You need to know this and you need to know whether the chatter is negative or positive.

  • Step 3: Actively Protect Your Brand. There are many steps that you can use to do this. Register your brand names with the various social media platforms, this way you avoid the chance of them being hijacked by someone else.

  • Step 4: Create a social media policy for your company. This means creating a plan that informs and educates employees on the company policy and guidelines of using social media. This policy should inform them as to what they should and should not discuss when it comes to the company. And other appropriate practices and procedures to follow, especially in the event of a crisis.

  • Step 5: Always be aware. There is no excuse not to know what is being said. It’s important to always have your finger on the pulse of what is being said, whether it be positive or negative. You always want to know when someone is talking about your and your brand – ignorance is no excuse. Monitor the social media platforms.

  • Step 6: Embrace the negative when necessary. Social media is a conversation and a dialogue, so be willing to embrace the negative and dialogue in public regarding the situation. This gives you credibility with other consumers.

Monitoring Tools

You can get started in monitoring what’s being said by using the following free tools:

  • Search Function on Twitter - Search tool that is available on Twitter that shows you what has been tweeted that matches your search query.

  • Google Alerts - Great service by Google that will alert you when search queries you enter have been posted in Google News, Search Engine, Videos, or Groups.

  • Technorati - Technorati will notify your brand has been mentioned in the blogosphere.

  • Monitor This - MonitorThis is a little more technical but worth it. You can have Monitor This watch over - 20 different search engine feeds. Monitor This will make an .opml file that you can put into your RSS Feeder and display any results into that feed.

Social media brings many marketing benefits to companies, such as creating awareness and word-of-mouth marketing. It’s not going to go away, so it’s our responsibility as businesses to be aware of what’s going on and, if we don’t have the time or resources to do that, it may be time to consider an outsourced solution, whether it be using that service to market for you or just to monitor what’s being said.

About the Author Laura Lake

20+ Years Marketing Pro. Passion for where marketing and technology intersect. Outspoken. Defying the Ordinary.

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