Bad press can come from anywhere and with very little notice. In July 2014, a Chinese TV news channel broadcast a video of expired meat being processed at a local meat supplier’s factory. The news story turned viral after it was made known that the supplier worked with some of America’s biggest fast food chains like McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut. The outcome was disastrous for McDonald’s whose shares fell more than six percent while the shares of Yum Brands dropped 13%.
Unlike small businesses that can monitor reputation simply by setting up a Google Keyword alert, large businesses have to deal with a massive volume of brand mentions each day. Such businesses deal with millions of customers with a few thousand people unhappy with the product or service each day. While customer support executives and social media managers can handle most of these complaints and bad presses, a few complaints may escalate and are likely to turn into a PR nightmare.
So why do some bad reviews or news items impact a company’s reputation more than the others? One of the key elements here is the influencer network. Influencers are people or companies who have the reach and ability to shape opinions. The “Ice Bucket Challenge”, for instance, was not a viral sensation until a Boston based former baseball captain took the challenge and passed it to athletes and celebrities in his network. In the case of bad press, non-influential customers taking to social media to complain may not bring much impact until it is shared by one of these influencers.
According to Matthieu Vaxelaire, the CEO of media monitoring company Mention, one of the most effective ways to bring down the noise-signal ratio for reputation management is by tracking influencers instead of specific users. By weeding out irrelevant conversations involving the brand, a business may be able to track and monitor conversations from only those users who are in a position to trigger virality. This is important for PR managers as well as viral marketers.
Big Data Brand Monitoring
While influencers play a major role in shaping opinions, it is not always possible to track all potential influencers. In the case of the McDonalds’ story, it may have been quite unrealistic for an American company to have anticipated a PR nightmare arising from a local TV news outlet in China. In short, your brand management is only as good as the list of influencers you track.
One of the more viable alternatives here is to use the power of technology to monitor brand mentions. Using big data, enterprise businesses may track every single brand mention from various platforms like blogs, social media, print media, TV, etc. and use sentiment analysis technology to interpret the nature of discussion. Also, it is possible to benchmark the frequency of mentions against the average frequency to know if there is a trending story on any media platform or location. Such big data tools help narrow down millions of brand mentions to a few important stories that matter.
Monitoring your brand is extremely vital to not only keep a tab on what your customers are thinking, but to also know how opinions could shape up in future. By identifying unhappy customers and addressing negative stories in their infancy, it is possible to not only keep your customers happy, but also ensure your brand image remains intact.