Ten Reasons Small Businesses Should Monitor Online Reputation

Thursday, 4 Mar 2010

The advance in social media Web sites like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr have made it exceedingly easy for consumers to publish their opinions and experiences online for all to see and read. Content published on the internet is recorded and cached for infinity. For this reason, the need for social media monitoring is an important to-do for any small business owner. And monitoring social media does not just mean keeping an eye on blogs. It should include checking for your company on video- and image-sharing sites and microblogging sites like Twitter, along with opinion and discussion forums.

Companies large and small invest in their brands through advertising, PR, marketing, product development, and customer service. It's essential to curate that investment by monitoring what is being said online, both positive and negative. Here are 10 specific reasons for online brand monitoring:

The complaint - Watch for posts complaining about your products or services, company, and staff. Catching something early means getting a chance to show how responsive you are.

The compliment - Compliments can come in many forms. It could be a congratulations message about a recent award. It could be a customer raving about the experience they just had with a product or with customer service. Social media compliments are the online equivalent of those old school references or testimonials of days past.

The expressed need - The best way to watch for expressed needs is to look for keywords often used to describe those needs. People shout out what they are doing and ask the general public for advice occasionally when they are about to make a purchase.

The competitor - If you are watching your industry and the keywords used to describe it you will probably be the first to know when a new competitor appears on the scene. From a competitive intelligence perspective you may also wish to be alerted any time a competitor's name is used.

The crowd - Topics will often pop up online that draw huge crowds from a page visits or commenting perspective. There is a lot to be learned in discussion threads, especially when they have the potential to affect your brand. Following the swarms can give you a better understanding of current sentiment and thinking towards a certain topic and who the players are that have opinions on it.

The influencer - Influencers within a space can carry a lot of weight. They gain there power either from the number of times they post on a topic, the number of people who link to their posts on a topic, the number of people gathering to comment and how engaged visitors to their posts become.

The crisis - Discussions happening in social media can serve as an early warning system before an issue goes mainstream. By using advanced tools you can observe new words popping more frequently about your brands. If you were an airline, as an example, the sudden appearance of the word 'cancellations'along with the words 'bad'and 'customer service'would immediate trigger a need to drill into the posts driving them. Tracking these 'crisis'words over time on a go forward basis would also then help gauge the effectiveness of any outreach campaigns to address the underlying issues.

The ROI - There has been a lot of buzz lately on how to successful measure online marketing and outreach campaigns. Much of the focus has centered around the topic of engagement. While a universal engagement metric has yet to be agreed upon there are still a number of effective ways to measure engagement and ROI in general. Track the mentions of a brand in user-generated content before, during and after a campaign. Isolate positive words associated with a particular brand and gauge the number of times they were used over a period of time.

The audit - A brand is the sum of all conversations and is no longer completely controlled by the corporation. By analyzing social media a corporation or agency can score a brand's overall user sentiment, determine which words are commonly associated with it, understand which competitors rank closest in buzz or online mentions, uncover which sites are advocates, and rank which social media channels contain more discussion versus others.

The thread - Following discussions using keywords associated with it can help bridge the thread across all types of social media. This thread would then appear as a connected conversation for easy analysis.

Customers, prospects, and peers are discussing your small business brand, your industry, and your competitors right now in social media, with or without you. Unfortunately, choosing not to listen doesn't make those conversations go away. Actively listening, whether it is with Google Alerts or advanced social media monitoring tools like Radian6, means protecting your small business brand reputation, discovering opportunities, staying competititive, and avoiding runaway crises.

[1] Ten Reasons Small Businesses Should Monitor Online Reputation,

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