Human race is pretty fickle actually when it comes to trust. It doesn’t take much to lose trust in someone. That someone would have gone to any lengths to build a reputation & trust. But that doesn’t matter.
And since a brand’s reputation means a lot in terms of business (goodwill) it makes sense to manage it. Its pretty difficult in the web 2.0 & social media world which has proliferated abundantly and is myriad. Hence there are online reputation management tools available for that very same purpose. [Read this PDF on ORM for more]
Trust is an important aspect to manage ones online/digital reputation. And in cases of inadvertent destruction of trust/reputation the best a person/brand/entity can do is to retract gracefully, explain your situation & apologize for any inconvenience caused.
Facebook did bungle by making some unsavory changes to its Terms & Conditions a couple of months back. The changes allowed it worlwide perpetual license for all content, even user generated. There was a backlash. Facebook then retracted, apologized & finally set up a voting system for a new terms of service. The new terms have been approved by around 65000 members from the user community.
However, one cannot do that if they do not even listen to what the community is saying. Look at what happened to Domino’s recently when a couple of its employees posted some “prank” videos showing how they defile the delivery food. They posted a response video on YouTube & propagated that via twitter.
Some people say the damage could have been thwarted faster had Domino’s been listening in on the social media. Some say it was too little too late. Domino’s has now been forced to incorporate ORM into its business.
So yes, on social media, listen first & then talk. 🙂 And if no one is talking about you yet, ask first & then talk! This is how businesses can provide customer service via the social media channel. Comcast does so on Twitter.
Before Comcast came on to Twitter, most I had heard about them was people dissing it and ranting about problems with the service (I am not from USA, so was unaware of the service myself). Not many raves in the tweets. But now I see so many tweets about how they have been successfully providing customer service on twitter. Surely their social media strategy helped Comcast in building trust too?
Tools like SM2 from Techrigy, Radian 6, Socialeyes, etc. do help in “keeping your ear to the ground”. They help you collate information from across the web 2.0 world pertaining to your brand (and also your competition, which makes good sense too). Using sentiment analysis & other natural language processing (NLP) techniques, they even provide you some analysis of the tone of the conversations around your brand. With improvements in NLP, expect these sentiment analysis tools to get only more useful in determining the sentiment of the market about your brand.
Once you are aware of the market sentiment about your brand you can plan to affect changes to these sentiments, which some of my colleagues at work call as sentiment correction. Sentiment correction is nothing but the actions that you take to change the sentiments about your brand in the social media. You might want to change it from negative to positive or positive to more positive.
For want of a better term, I stick with the term Sentiment Correction for now. Correction tends to make one feel that you are righting a wrong. However, there need not be any wrong sentiments for you to decide to change the sentiments in the market.
So, the three simple steps to manage your reputation:
1. Listen to what your customers are saying about you.
And then rinse & repeat.
Do you think these 3 steps will suffice, please do let me know. 🙂