e-Reputation is a real issue for modern Brands
Reputation, at all levels, makes the persona, makes the Brand, determines success or failure.
Better to hold a spell from afar than dispel it in light of day.
If in the real World, things go like this, they just do so in the virtual World. Reputation on the Web and in Social Networks is just as essential. Online reputation is called e-Reputation and forms part of what Social Media Strategists have to nurture and manage during a campaign and beyond.
A good e-reputation is source of trust and peace of mind. It conveys confidence and a sense of pride. Such qualities, in return, bring in referrals and positive engagement either in terms of business/ market share or in terms of aura or personal charisma. And this is good for the ROI.
Awareness, Immediacy and Tact are the keywords
Managing and Dealing with e-reputation is not just a game of simple monitoring and flawless responses on a wall or through a microblog. It implies a high level of professionnal commitment and dedication to Awareness, Immediacy and Tact . Building contingency plans is always good, but every battle is won on the battle field in real-time.
What the World says about you, is what you need to know…
Modus Operandi Mauritius
To deal with a Brand’s or person’s e-reputation is about knowing all that is being said on The subject or on related subjects. First of all, you will need finely tuned Alert Systems. These systems, based on keyword analysis, will constantly feed on threads where those so defined keywords are being used and mentioned.
As Search Engines, Google or Yahoo or Bing seem the simplest options. Inputing your name in your browser’s address bar should return all the places where you have been mentioned. But this is formulated into bulk results, with redundancies, lots of refuse and unnecessary information.
On the other side, with online systems like Google Alerts, for instance, results and feeds may be refined but still It will not not provide complete and accurate information.
We have seen a trend with Google over the past many months where Google just is not providing alerts for every single occurrence any longer. This makes it incumbent on you or a Reputation Manager to set up a reliable system that alerts you immediately anytime new content is posted where your business is mentioned.
Duran – optimum7
In any case e-reputation monitoring and management requires specific toolsets that are design to give indices of positive or negative Brand perception.
One must be immediately aware of any mention of his related brand, but being aware entails a reaction, an immediate reaction. Optimally, in any case a Community Manager or Social Media Manager or the dedicated team should respond at each and every mention made on the Internet, be it on positive or negative comments. This is very basics of the Job.
More critically, any negative comment should be seen and sensed as challenge or a direct threat to the e-reputation of your person’s, Business’ or Brand’s. It should be addressed on the fly, immediately to stop further slur and escalation.
Responding in urgency is sometimes tricky. On the web it gets even more problematic. Any wrongly termed answer can add more insult to injury and in some cases can cause more bad to the Brand’s e-reputation.
This is where a minimum diplomatic approach is needed. You just have to reflect on the best language to stop the hemorrhage, the best language that will stop the inflating negative thread from becoming more and more influential. You will need to make a relevant and unquestionable statement, almost like a press communique. This is why answers to negative comments should always be handled by specialists, Social Media and Community Managers.
The house in on fire, what to do?
In e-reputation war cases, solutions are paradoxically human ones, coming generally from our civic sense of peaceful life and often from the heart. They start with proper listening, they emerge from inner calm and emotional control. The point is to understand the recriminations and to reach for sustainable resolution with the right words and attitude.
You will be having all eyeson you, watching and registering your moves. Everything you say and drop down on the thread will stay forever on the Web.
A Social Media Manager and his Community Manager have several options at hand to deal with such situations. He has the Direct Response to the incriminated comment, the Peer-to-Peer “offline” approach, Post removal and user Ban, and ARM Counterattacks. The latter is usually consigned in the e-Reputation Contingency Plan and Strategy.
The Direct Response
As mentioned earlier, high Responsiveness is often the best way to kill the fire, especially when it just started. Responding on the fly, at the almost beginning, gives you the edge on controlling the thread’s orientation off the main issue. But this is to be done by cool tempered guys who can assess and respond with the most relevant and accurate answers to the flow of attacks. Like for e-reputation itself, it is all about being zen, accurate and professional.
Peer-to-peer “offline” approach
When the first response doesn’t suffice, the next step is to invite the emitter, or the Community Manager to contact you directly. In this case, you should always go to the source and not engage with sub-guns. This is where you will have to to give the proper individual attention he or she deserves.
This is necessary to get the conversation off the main thread for a moment and try to find ways to cool off the negative trend, with valuable arguments. You just have to focus on trying to get the debate going anywhere else except on the source thread.
The outcome of such an off-thread discussion is often a mutually agreed removal of the post, but not always.
Get the Post Removed
If it still impossible to stop the flow of negative sentiment, one last resort solution is about getting in touch with the Webmaster or Owner of the site. A relevantly documented complaint and a request to remove the post being the main point.
This should be done, formulated and addressed in the most professional manner.
If the negative comment or post happens on your Brand’s own wall or on your own blog threads, your Community Manager has the legitimate prerogative to remove the post and to ultimately ban the incriminated user. This, however, should be done with the utmost transparency and with valuable public explanation, even if, by definition of property, no justification is required.
With a little help of your friends and your community…
During any episode of e-reputation war, you should never feel bad about asking your online friends and members of your immediate online communities to post and comment about their positive experiences on the same thread where the target negative comment or review exists. This will help pushing down the initial negative sentiment. The more of your friends doing so, the deeper concealed goes the slur to your e-reputation.
Do not hesitate to ask your friends to call you if they want more precise information about the case/ problem. One-to-one explanations rebuilds confidence and trust.
Contingency Planning and Strategy
Any e-reputation monitoring and management process comes with the devising of a basic contingency plan and strategy to respond to any kind of situation that would go out of hand and control. This contingency plan and Strategy shall indicate the measures to be taken to decrease the visibility and dampen the impact of the negative content. It should also contain measures about reassuring the Brand’s own community. All this should be in the e-Reputation Monitoring and Management strategy.
When nothing of the above works, take to the ARM…
Beyond all this, when the skies are more than black over the heads for your Brand comes another level of e-reputation Management. This is called ARM – Aggressive Reputation Management.
Comes in with ARM, very technical approaches deriving from SEO where the aim is to beat the negative at search results page level. This part deals with active Search Engine Optimization and analysis of search terms that allow the negative comments to be found on the first 3 search results pages. The job is to push the negative post even further and relegate it deeper in search results. For that, a complete reassessment and analysis of the situation is needed.
Winning or losing an e-reputation can be as easy as that or as very complicated and as painstaking as a real-life war. But out this experience, lessons must be learned, adapted and injected into the Social Media Strategy framework. A documented debrief report needs to generated and stay as a reference case study for the Social Media Management department. This could be very useful.
The tail bit – Prevention is better than cure!
E-reputation monitoring and management need the proper professionnal frameworks to be really successful. Any Social Media Strategy should cater for e-reputation maintenance during the time of its contract validity and beyond. Such framework will not only allow to find cure and solutions but will also act in favor of prevention.
- Reputation Management, the #1 Reason the C-Suite Needs to Listen to Social Media (radian6.com)
- 5 Steps for Small Businesses Reputation Management (meryl.net)
- Online Reputation Management: The Quick 5 Ws (moreover.com)