With The Gilbane Conference just a few short months away, I’ve been thinking a lot about the evolution of themes and topics covered over the past few years. This year we are pleased to have a session lead by Russ Edelman and Toby Bell on Two Key Management Concerns About Social Media :ROI and Reputation Management. This is an increasingly important subject especially when it comes to the enormous impact online reputation has not just on an individual but a company as well.
15 Minutes. 15 Minutes is all it takes for an angry customer to chip away at the integrity of your businesses’ reputation by casting an instant smear campaign across all of your social networks. In some cases that 15 minutes is a generous figure as today’s internet users are more savvy than ever ,especially when motivated by what they deem to be an unfair experience.
Kasio Martin, a self proclaimed internet professional and blogger recently related in one of her entries how a series of bad experiences with local businesses and the subsequent online smear campaigns she launched against them received very different responses, prompting both positive reactions and further negative behavior from her.
“After the bad transaction I googled the business again. I left negative reviews on Insider Pages, City Search, Yahoo, Google Pages and Yellow Pages. These review sites outranked the businesses own Facebook Page in Google. The next time someone googles that business they will find my review 5 times before they get any other information about the company. This took me about 15 minutes to accomplish.”
The part of this scenario that strikes me the most is not just the short amount of time it took this customer to cause a major headache for the offending business, but also that the popularity of these sites she targeted make them the first picks in online search results. The company’s lack of response to her complaints showed even less integrity as it showed they either had a poor social media strategy or none at all. As to the effect they had on the business itself there is no mention but one can imagine that it served as a major discouragement towards attracting new customers.
Ms. Martin recounts an additional story in which her online complaints against a large chain restaurant were not only heard but resolved before the day was through:
“Because the restaurant was a large corporate chain, I didn’t really expect anything to come of it. But I received an email response within the hour. They informed me that they were getting that store on the phone and fixing this immediately. . . Within only a couple of hours they responded to me on Twitter and offered to help. . . Before the end of the workday they had resolved the issue and I didn’t have a bad thing left to say on any channel.”
While the Ms. Martin’s of the world may scare the faint of heart away from attempting to grow their business through social media, both scenarios show that regardless of whether or not you have made pages on these sites, that a Social Reputation is being made for your company whether or not you’re the one facilitating it.
Social Reputation can not be ignored, but it can be preserved and even strengthened through early intervention and constant diligence.
Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts for getting you started:
- Do Google yourself: This is simply the easiest way to find what’s being said about your company around the entire internet. For faster results try signing up for Google alerts for your company.
- Do check your @mentions on Twitter and Wall on Facebook: See what’s being said about you both good and bad in seconds. This is a great public forum to address questions, comments and complaints from your customers.
- Don’t ignore negative online comments: While the easiest solution to a jaded customer review may be to delete it or simply ignore it, this sends an undeniable message to others that either you don’t care enough to answer the complaint or that you’re not on top of your online presence at all.
- Don’t let third party sites and blogs outrank your own in search results: If third party pages such as yelp, hub pages, and Wikipedia are the first returns when someone searches for your company then your customers/potential customers will receive biased opinions before they even make it to your own site. Stay active on all of your websites and social media outlets and you’ll be sure to have your companies mission and services heard first and foremost.
Don’t let negative opinions get in the way of your business’s goals: There will always be critics of the work you do and the worst thing you can do is let it get in the way of the doing a good job. Stay true to your companies mission and purpose and ultimately that work will speak for itself, hopefully in the form of good reviews for a positive Social Reputation.
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