Social Media if not handled properly can wreck your reputation

In this era when everything is decided online and just a click away, social media is one such thing that comes as handy. One negative review if failed to deal with can give you nightmares. A recent survey conducted in the UK reveals how major companies believe that Social networking is a ‘big issue and a potential risk to their brand and reputation.

Reputation Management For.com has noted an interesting factor, that most companies do not have a social media button or twitter streams on their websites. Companies fail to realize that social media is more than marketing since this medium determines key business judgments today.

Something that comes quickly to the mind is the Vodafone twitter gaffe, and how a customer service staff by mistake posted an obscene message on the company’s twitter account. This caused the company to issue an apology to thousands of its followers. Though Vodafone acted quickly and deleted the tweet, but users were quicker and saved a copy and circulated it on the internet. The point is one wrong move and it spreads like wild-fire on social media. So this is one example to say how companies need to ascertain to counter and monitor social media. Continue reading “Social Media if not handled properly can wreck your reputation”

How Social networking sites influence search engine results

To rank first on major search engines is an objective most internet marketers and websites look for. Most of the companies optimize their websites to get on that first page of search engine results to invite visitors to their website. But is there anything other than SEO to get there?

Well, there are the Social Networking sites, and there’s enough evidence that SNS influences search engines. What happens, for example, when you have a facebook site with 10,000 fans and as many ‘likes’? Do they show up high on search engines?

There’s no doubt that Google closely monitors social media data with real-time Twitter updates integrated into searches. Now how they use it is a different story and it’s very hard to say because strong social media popularity usually converts high ranking on search engines. It’s a clear indication that Google uses it to determine what a trusted source is and this was something they had mentioned long time back.

Brand value of a domain was a ranking factor Continue reading “How Social networking sites influence search engine results”

Scotia Bank Jamaica Bill Clark

It was must have been a total shock for a man well-known in Jamaican banking circles for great fiduciary care and strict management style, to discover that he had a FaceBook account which he had absolutely no knowledge of.

Already in a real battle-royal with the Bank of Nova Scotia headquartered in Canada regarding the finer points of his retirement package, William “Bill” Clarke former managing director in Jamaica probably never believed that after more than 30 years of sterling service he would be caught up in legal struggles.

So far, he has scored real big discovering a fake Facebook page allegedly created by members of the bank’s Information Technology department in Jamaica. Complete with false statements made to seem coming from the proverbial mouth of the former BNS executive, Clarke made contact with the popular social network’s management and by US court order found out the masterminds responsible for the criminal offence.

Now that is what I would call a real trump card from Mr. Clarke in showing that staff members must remain ethical, honest, and respectful of management (even former) to protect two reputations: that the bank’s and their own personal accountability.

Sherina Garcia (Creative Infusion Network)

Reputation Management and Online PR for 2010

2010 is going to be an interesting year for SEO, Reputation Management and Online PR, there could not of been a better example of how the communication world is changing, with this years Christmas number 1. TV vs Facebook;  X Factor vs  Rage Against The Machine.  2010 will see a real shift towards groups of people on social sites really making a difference and having access to many tools to shout out even louder.  Tools like Facebook, Twitter to name a few are only part of it, with the introduction of Google’s sidewiki which allows people, customers, competition to write remarks about a website without any control.  There is no opt out of sidewiki, customers will love it, businesses who have a bad track record of customer service will hate it.

Many companies will need to allow for Reputation Management to be in their marketing budget for 2010, but this is not a negative, far from it.  In the last 5 years there has been a massive shift from traditional advertising to online advertising because, if done correctly the returns on investment can be far greater than traditional advertising.  Plus if you focus some of your efforts on organic SEO and RM you will see them as an investment rather than just a cost.  Compare that to a TV advert, once you’ve spent you budget the advert is gone, unless someone has recorded off the TV, but even then most people just fast forward through the adverts.

How Reputation Management Works

So you’ve decided you want to focus your efforts on improving your position online and spent a wee fortune on SEO, what happens next?

Reputation Management online pr

The customer finds your site and now knows your company name, it is at this point that Reputation Management and Online PR play their roll, because if the customer has not bookmarked your website they will put your company name in instead.  It only then takes one negative comment on a forum to start effecting your sales and the reason for this, if that negative comment appears on the first page of the search results and starts to attract more negative comments it doesn’t take long for it to rise up the search results and ultimately be sitting directly below your own site.   Having a negative result directly below your own company website can attract up to 70% of your potential customers to click on it first rather than click on your site.  Pushing the negative forum down the SERP’s is where RM and SEO come into play.

If personalised search results are here to stay, then click through rates could be one of the determining factors for which site will show for your company name.  Maybe PPC campaigns will help with CTR and make certain sites perform better, but the jury is still out on this.

If 2010 for your business is about converting more of the right customers then reputation management has to be up there in the marketing budget.  There is no point spending 1000’s on advertising only to loose all those potential sales because of negative things being said about your business.  So here is our top tips for 2010.

Neat acronym for the process of online reputation management:

  • L = Listen
  • E = Engage
  • A = Address
  • R = Respond
  • N = Next…

Companies need to start with listening about what people are saying before they respond (aka that does not mean REACT)

Response needs to be thought through and considered and addresses the problem.

Step 1 – Listen…

Try Google Alert (www.google.com/alert) and subscribe for alerts for your company name or key product names. A good way to stay on top of discussions on a daily basis via email. You can then track those comments and remarks back to the source and if appropriate leave a comment yourself. This is free and easy to manage. You can move on to trackur or distilled for more coherent reporting tools.

(Keotag is another good free service – www.keotag.com)

Step 2 – Engage

Reach out to critics and engage with them. Most important, you have to ADDRESS the underlying issue. They have to feel that they have been HEARD and also UNDERSTOOD. You need to know what has happened and what has gone wrong and why. Some criticisms can be unfounded, but many times, criticism has due cause and can be resolved.

Step 3  – Address

Before you can respond to online conversations, you need to address the underlying problems or incidents within your organisation. Criticism offers a learning process, but it is wasted if you dont make use of it. A customer problem can be a one-off or can turn out to be a symptom of a much wider systemic problem that the company needs to work on.

Step 4 – Respond

It is important that the response carries some weight and not be a low level customer-service operative. It should carry executive weight, acknowledge, apologise and then correct . If you give a meaningful and authoritative response then your critic can become an evangelist.

Step 5 – Next…

Move onto next issue… or in other words restart the process. Too many marketing and reputation managers tend to work from crisis to crisis and do not develop a systematic approach to their online reputation management.  An iterative, patient process that builds up a real knowledge of the online environment, who’s talking and where and why allows you to shape and join important conversations rather than always being caught out by emerging threads.

Coda:

Executives within the organisation need to understand the brand and its message, but most importantly have a strong sympathy for the reputation.  It needs to be important for them what people say about and experience with your company.

Having a clear and precise feedback structure for customers to vent both positive and negative comments is a fantastic way to deal with damage limitation.  If people see you responding and listening then 95% of customers will be satisfied.  Not doing this means more people will find forums and blogs to have a go.

Get Your Head Around Social Network Sites

Many of the issues and problems we’ve seen in 2009 I believe will be escalated for 2010, Companies need to understand social network sites and how they will play a part in reputation management.  They are a great RM and customer feedback tool if managed correctly.  Another big benefit of signing up to all the SNS’s is it stops other people pretending to be you, again another issue we came across this year.  The final and probably just as important point, if you own the account and the page and follow the best SEO rules you may well stop negative pages from the same SNS site showing up in the search engines as Google only tends to show one possibly 2 pages from the same site in the first 3 pages.

By protecting your company name and brand the other outset is of course you have more positive  pages talking about your company, and the bigger the net the more fish you catch.

Happy Christmas and looking forward to 2010.

Weapons of mass destruction

Weapons of mass destruction to your company’s reputation…  so often we talk about the doom and gloom of reputation management and how sites like scam.com, ripoffreport.com, facebook.com to name a few can be used to attack your brand, company or individual’s name.  We have to talk about the negative side of not taking action all the time because businesses and celebrities just don’t get it.  Even if they do they quite often don’t allocate resources or funding to help prevent attacks on-line until its to late and the damage has been done.  You only have to look at what happened after the France – Ireland game with Thierry Henry’s hand ball, people are already saying they will boycott Gillette products on facebook and twitter, one profile has already generated over 50,000 followers in less than 24 hours, amazing.

mobile-phone-applicationsSo being Friday, thanks giving and also a new moon, I thought I should talk about all the positives of reputation management and how it can help drive traffic to your site.

So by developing a reputation management strategy, what you’re really doing is taking advantage of all the different sites and channels out there.  Sites like the BBC.co.uk are great example of taking advantage of technology, they were one of the first to take advantage of blogging and podcasts.  Putting out lots of positive content across all the available mediums not only helps prevent negative content but also allows you to attract more potential customers when they see positive customer feedback and stories.

Social network sites are a fantastic way to get news out quickly and effectively, many developers have been quick to take advantage and build applications for almost everything from your laptop to your iphone.  One of our clients next week is going to the RSNA  which is the largest conference in the world, the sales guys can walk around taking photos, interviews and general feedback instantly.   Anyone can become a journalist nowadays.

Creating pages on Facebook and allowing people to become a member is another great way to build a following of your product or service.  Cool applications that allow you to twitter can then be publish to your site and facebook at the same time.  There are 1000’s of great widgets and applications to choose from.  Blogs are also another great tool, again providers like wordpress have tools you can download to your phone so when you are sitting in the airport bored and feeling like you are wasting time you can bang up a post.

In today’s world where customers expect things to be instant its critical you keep your on-line presence up to date.  What’s almost as bad of course is if you don’t keep content up to date, I know I have to really get into a strict routine each morning to make sure I keep my blogs, twitter etc up to date.  If a customer finds a blog that has not been touched for 6 months, it can send out a negative message, is the company still running?  Do they not care about keeping information up to date? And so on.

fishing-customersThe internet is becoming a really noisy place, so it’s important you use every tool possible to shout the loudest, much of the work we provide for our clients is daily posting and writing news articles and so on, the benefit of this is just how much traffic this can generate to your site.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the more nets you throw out the more fish you will catch.

Using on-line PR sites is another fantastic way to also get stories to the top of search engines, often these types of services offer links to your own site, so more often or not if it’s an interesting enough story you can also get traffic.  If your really lucky and people start to Digg it, reddit, tweet it etc then it can really take off and generate a lot of traffic.

It’s very easy now quickly to generate over 50 plus urls all promoting your company and publishing articles and press releases you have written, ultimately you have more control and more of a chance at keep positive stories at the top of the search results as well as attracting more traffic and ultimately generating more sales.

Reputation management in my eyes is advanced search engine optimisation (SEO), its about developing a online presence which attracts more customers and at the same time control the content.  In very simplistic terms when ever you type in a search result there is always at least 10 results on the first page of Google, if you only have one website (and assuming it is optimised) then when someone searches your business you have absolutely no control what the other 9 results will show.  It’s a bit like owning a shop front but only using 1 tenth of the window and allowing anybody else to use the rest of the window for what ever they like.

Reputation management must be part of a companies strategy going forward the old ways or going out the door no longer can you rely on the traditional PR ways and damage limitation solutions, of course they have a part to play, but a shrinking part.

Thierry Henry

Company and Brand Names need thinking through

Often in the passed before the revolution of the online world having a unique and memorable name wast often a good thing.  How times have changed since the rise of the internet, or as it could be called nowadays the Customer Review Network.   When deciding on a name you must consider the pros and cons.  Having a unusual name makes it easier to do well in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), however the big downside to this of course is it makes it very easy for negative comments in forums, blogs and 3rd party sites to start appearing on the first page of Google.

Here is a great example of 2 very well known restaurant franchise companies KFC and MacDonald’s.  If you google these two names you will notice two different outcomes the first 3 or 4 results for KFC are websites managed by KFC however most of the results below them are negative.  Do the same for McDonald’s and you will only get positive results, why is that?  The main reason is McDonald is of course a Scottish name and a very strong one, so there are many groups like the McDonald clans, families and other businesses all trying to get to the top of the SERPs for the search term Mcdonald.  Not only that, McDonald Restaurants  are also very proactive on the net and have 100’s of websites which smother the first few pages of the SERPs.

So if keeping you company name clean on the net is number one priority make sure you choose a name that is quite generic but not overly broad, so for example Car Garage Ltd would be to generic, but Chicago Car Garage maybe OK.  Also make sure you check the user-name is available using tools like http://knowem.com/ If you do a search on the main social network sites, it could be enough to put you off using that name if they are not available on sites like Twitter.