A 5-Step Guide to Social Media Reputation Management

The case for reputation management has been demonstrated repeatedly - here’s our five-step guide to social media reputation management on a budget.

The case for social media monitoring has been made demonstrated repeatedly in recent years. A study from the London School of Economics last year revealed that a 2% reduction in negative word of mouth boosts sales growth by 1% and Dell has attributed a monetary value to this: their average customer is worth $210; their average online detractor costs them $57 and their average online promoter earns them $32.

While it’s not clear how Dell calculated these figures, it’s telling that negative comments posted online have almost double the impact of positive ones. As in traditional media, good news tends to be a by-line; bad news resonates and spreads. What’s different about the web and, in particular, the social web, is the speed of it’s spread.

When two Domino’s Pizza employees posted a disgusting spoof video onto YouTube last year, it was two days before senior management at the pizza giant became aware of it. Inexperienced in the ways of online reputation management, they chose to ignore it and expected it to blow over – as it most likely would have done had it been a press story. By the time they had realised their error, created a Twitter account and posted their own response onto YouTube, the original video has been viewed over 1 million times and the damage to their brand was done. There are few better examples of the destructive viral power of social media.

The irony of this example is that, by using basic buzz monitoring services for social media tracking – many of which are available free of charge – Domino’s could have greatly minimised the damage caused by the incident. At the same time, while this example focuses on a global brand, where the risk would have justified significant expenditure in social media monitoring tools, analysis and engagement, most companies remain reluctant to spend money on what is effectively a form of social media insurance.

So for companies looking for a low cost solution, here’s our five-step guide to social media reputation management on a budget:

1. Decide what you want to track

What are the primary ‘keywords’ relating to your company that you want to track in online conversations? These are likely to include:

  • Company name
  • Company website address
  • Names of products
  • Names of senior employees and Directors
  • Names of close competitors
  • Common expressions – e.g. “[Company] is rubbish”, “company is great”

2. Set up accounts with free social media monitoring tools

There are hundreds of tools available. We have listed a few of the most popular ones here:

3.  Set up your alerts and searches

You then need to run regular searches, or better still, set up alerts or RSS feeds that notify you when your keywords are mentioned. This works best when you have an RSS reader or homepage where you can aggregate all of this information, to make it easier to read and review. We recommend setting up an iGoogle (http://www.google.com/ig) or Netvibes (www.netvibes.com) homepage to display your feeds and alerts.

4. Set up your own social media accounts

When you’re alerted to a comment about your company, you need to be in a position to respond quickly. The beauty of many of the paid monitoring services is that they provide both the interface (homepage) for your feeds and the ability to respond directly to comments from that same interface. If you’re doing it for free, you need to set up accounts on all the key social media platforms, including: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr and any industry-specific or consumer forums where people are likely to talk about your company.

5. Engage

How you respond to comments and posts people make is up to you, but there are certain rules of thumb:

  1. Act quickly – the beauty of social media is it’s real-time. You can snub out misconceptions and fix problems instantly through a quick, smart reply. Never expect things to go away. Blog posts and forum comments linger in search engine results forever, so you need to make sure your viewpoint is there too.
  2. Be nice – you really want to avoid getting angry or making threats. Try and reason with detractors and understand where they are coming from. By showing that you’re listening, you’ll win respect and support from others.
  3. Be pro-active – when discussions arise that relate to your industry, get involved nice and early with your perspective. This encourages promoters to back you and takes the wind out of detractors’ sails.

We hope this is a useful summary. We’ll be having a full discussion about the latest techniques and issues in social media reputation management at Monitoring Social Media 09 taking place in London 17th Nov. Everyone’s welcome.

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  3. Vishal Reply

    Great post, You might also want to check out Viralheat. Its packs a lot of those different monitoring services in one great packages and has amazing reporting capabilities.




    1. luke Reply

      Thanks Vishal. Hopefully people will be able to meet you guys and demo Viralheat at http://www.monitoring-social-media.com.

  4. Tommi Issakainen Reply

    Good guide for anyone to follow. Sadly I’ve seen a lot of cases where the step n:o 5 wasn’t executed at all.

    It brings be back to the days when business and organizations first set up their webpages with the groundbreaking idea of “Contact” or “Support” -form.

    I can visualize in my mind the moment when the input started pouring in through the form.
    “Great” – says employee n:o 1
    “It really is” – says employee n:o 2
    “Let’s go get lunch” – emp n:o 1
    “Sure, problem solved” – emp n:o 2

    The thing with forms was that no one else saw all the feedback they were getting – and because of that, there really wasn’t a real pressure to respond to any of them.

    And now the same “feedback form” -corps are bringing their “best practice” to the world of social media, only to fail horribly. But then again, to me as a consumer this is a great thing. And also as a person who works in sales and marketing – because this is giving us a competitive edge over others.

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  7. jay arora Reply

    I would go with hiring a professional ORM company or individual serving the same purpose. Saying it on behalf of my friend who already hired an ORM company which helped him and his business to come out of the dark abyss of damaged reputation. And trust me, that that firm considered all the above mentioned points, so I can verify their authenticity.

  8. sunny shora Reply

    engaging is the activity which is required at every step. unless and until you engage with your audience and remain active on your social media profile, there is no use of having a social media account or profile at first place. it is alwasy useful, you learn news things everyday, so it’s a smart move to remain active on it and engage

  9. andy ducat Reply

    Social media plays the key role in managing online reputation. This article highlights the pivotal role of social media in brand building and managing the brand image.

  10. John Cloe Reply

    I would choose working with an expert ORM company or individual offering the very same purpose. Claiming it in behalf of my pal who already worked with an ORM company which helped him and his company to find out of the dark void of broken online reputation. As well as believe me, that company considered all the above pointed out factors, so I can verify their credibility.