When speaking to any company today about what the online market in general thinks about their product and service; and their answer is along the lines of, “who cares?!” then you are talking to a company that has turned its back on customer service and consumer loyalty.
A companies online worth is stored in the comments and attitudes of those who interact with the brand online. Their perceptions of the product or service are recorded in the comments that they leave in an array of places. Online Reputation Management is the monitoring of, and acting on, of these comments. This tracking is vital for companies today as they can no longer control each and every conversation about them online.
Where and why do people comment?
As the internet develops, more and more people are beginning to use it as a platform where they can research products and services that they are interested in. These same people are also looking at other comments that similar users are leaving about those self same products and services and basing their buying decisions on those comments first, sometimes even before they have gone to your company’s own website.
Why should my company care?
Your company needs to care about what people are saying about your brand. This is a simple fact with many strong reasons backing it up. Simply put :
- Simply ignoring comments online doesn’t mean that those comments don’t exist.
- Seeing what people are saying about your brand allows you insight into possible future product development.
- Contributing to comments allows you to influence the conversation and also show a positive face to the online world.
Luckily for companies there are many free tools that allow you keep tabs on what is being said about you. Some of these tools are :
Google Alerts – a simple alerts program which sends you an email whenever it finds a new mention of your specified keywords.
Yahoo! Pipes – slightly more sophisticated than Google Alerts, but its definitely for the more advanced user as it is more difficult to setup.
How Sociable? – a great tool that gives you a quick snapshot overview of how well (or badly) you are doing in the online social world.
While these are all great tools, they are all very simple in their construction and are not 100% reliable to use as a means of finding out what users online are saying about you at any given time. To clarify, these individual tools are the precursor to Online Reputation Management tools, but they do serve as a nice intriduction for anyone who is beginning to monitor their brand online.
Watch this space as the company that I work for is in the process of developing our own Online Reputation Management tool which will encompass the basics of ORM, but also push the boundaries of where, when and how information is being tracked.