Last Thursday I spoke at SAScon 2013, a conference focused on search, analytics and social, on the topic of “Maximizing your Online Reputation.” Below you can have a browse through my slides, which runs through some tips around how to gain and use insights into social conversations to manage brand reputation online.
The key points:
- How can you maximise something you now have limited control over? Aside from the things a brand can directly control (such as creating the best product or service it can, treating customers well, and avoiding public gaffes), brands have much more limited control or influence over what information it’s audience uses to learn about the brand than ever before. With the exponential growth in information created online, consumers are getting smart in using multiple information sources to make decisions. The difficulty faced by brands in trying to gain people’s attention will only become more apparent as people’s personal stream of information become personalized through social and interest filters.
- This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as people are predisposed to share good experiences over bad ones. Understanding the impact of online word of mouth is therefore a very important part of understanding how you manage your reputation, both in terms of understanding where the brand falls short of expectations as well as where it is delighting customers.
- Unfortunately very few brands do actually track their reputation online, though this sort of tracking is the fastest growing according to recent research. Over time it is likely that this will enrich or even replace traditional forms of brand tracking for companies – but we are ways away from that.
- How do you start to develop good metrics around your reputation? First off, don’t confuse the slick graphical output that comes from most social media monitoring systems for meaningful analysis. Automated tools do not only suffer from garbage-in garbage-out (it’s not trivial to tune these systems), but automated sentiment is still very error prone and therefore undermines its own credibility. Therefore follow these ground rules: use SM monitoring to catch problems early and to respond to customer issues. But for any data you plan on putting in front of senior manager, make sure there is methodological rigor behind it that a market research professional would approve of. See slides for some tips.
- Reputation metrics are a good step, but once you have a good solution for that it makes good sense to start stretching beyond metrics. Segmenting the data can give you more granular insight into where problems or opportunities lie. For example, looking at differences pre and post purchase can highlight the difference between expectations and experience. Maybe you haven’t highlighted a certain positive part of your offering well enough in your marketing communications? Or maybe you are falling down on service delivery as its not as advertised?
- One should also start looking beyond one’s own brand. Most people spend very little of their time talking about brands – so if all you listen to is conversations about your brand you are missing a big chunk of the picture. If you tune in to what people are saying you can get a much better idea of the needs they have that your brand might be able to help with. To take the example of a pharma company – it is not just in the business of selling pills. Ideally it is in the business of making patient lives’ better – and social conversations are a good opportunity to better understand how it can better deliver on those needs from a communications point of view.
Nils Mork Ulnes on Google+