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by Samantha Noble on 25th September 2012
This post goes live at the same time as my presentation at On The Edge Live in Bristol where I am talking about the importance of reputation and how you should be managing your brand’s reputation online.
In this post, I aim to summarise everything covered in the presentation and the slides are available to download below.
The idea behind this presentation came about when I was looking at how various brands and businesses manage their reputation online. It is surprising how much someone researches a brand before they make a purchase from them, so it is now more important than ever to ensure that you are managing your online reputation effectively.
In my mind, this is broken down into four key areas:
Throughout this post, I am going to cover each of these areas but please do download the slides as there are a lot more examples that should help you achieve the ultimate brand management strategy.
To start with, I want you to ask yourself a question and think about it before you answer….
What is a brand? A brand isn’t what you say it is…. It is what they say it is. This is how it was defined by Marty Neumeier in his book, The Brand Gap.
So, what does that mean? No matter how much work a brand puts into promoting its identity and message, if customers and potential customers do not see the brand in that light, it really doesn’t matter. It is your customers that determine what your brand message is.
Let’s get started…
When you think about reputation management for your brand, you need to be thinking about online and offline responses. They are both equally as important as each other.
Let’s look at an example of a brand that have managed their reputation well online over the past few years. More examples can be found in the slides of my presentation.
Example – BP
We all remember the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and how publicised it was both online and offline. BP handled this really well and decided to create a whole area of their website dedicated to the disaster and how they were helping with the restoration in the area.
As with all things good, there are also lots of examples of bad ways of managing a brands reputation. This is just one example, again more can be found in my presentation.
Example – Target
In New York’s Time Square, Target put up a huge billboard advertising their store. A female blogger did not think the poster they used was sending out the right message, given that the bull’s-eye was etched across a ladies crotch.
The blogger emailed in to Target to express her concerns and Target replied with an emailing stating that they do not deal with non-traditional media outlets. As Target had basically ignored the blogger, she did not take too kindly to that. Her complaint was spread all across the internet and even ended up being featured in The New York Times!
The main message I want to get across when it comes to reputation management is that it is very easy to just focus on messages found on social media platforms, but please don’t forget the traditional methods. Complaints can spread out of control if they are ignored, no matter where they are first raised. Various channels include:
It is easy to try and ignore any negative feedback about your brand; but trust me, ignoring messages can be fatal to a business. You need to respond and deal with any negative press. If there is something negative being said about you online and you don’t respond, you are leaving it open for other people to chime in and add their own points of view.
Likewise, you should also be paying attention to anything positive that is being said about you online. I would always recommend that you dedicate time and resource to network and engage with your fans. You never know when you might need them to help push a new product/service or message.
Ten years ago monitoring your brand was a lot easier. Now we have to contend with social media platforms including (but not limited to) Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. It is now very easy for individuals to share stories (good and bad) about your business and reach thousands of other individuals very quickly. With this in mind, you need to be on top of what people saying.
So what is brand monitoring?
Brand Monitoring is a strategy that all businesses should be adopting. Various tools should be employed to monitor what is being said about a brand, whether it be good or bad.
Some brands are going to be a lot easier to monitor, this all depends on the name of the business. For example, Audi or Dyson will take less time to monitor than Sky or Admiral due to the uniqueness of their name. Brands like Sky will be sifting through millions of potential brand mentions as their brand name is so generic.
If you are starting a new business and are looking for a brand name, my recommendation would be to choose something unique to make brand monitoring a much easier process.
Remember that this does take time and you need to be prepared to dedicate enough time and resource if you want to do it right. At Koozai we spend over 30 hours a month monitoring mentions of our brand and given that we have a unique name, this is not a huge amount.
When you start brand monitoring it is good to think about the types of terms you want to track. For me, I would always recommend tracking the following phrases:
There are a number of platforms that you need to be aware of when it comes to brand monitoring and doing such a job manually is impossible.
I would always recommend using a tool to monitor your brand and there are some great ones out there.
If you have a budget to spend, some of the best paid tools include:
However, if you don’t have any budget to allocate, there are lots of free tools that will enable you to uncover mentions. Some of my favourite tools include:
I have created two dashboards in Google Analytics, one which will help you monitor mentions of your brand on some of the social networks and another which helps measure brand engagement. Rather than go into detail about the dashboards here, please visit these posts I wrote for State of Search which cover both dashboards nicely:
Next on my list is Brand Protection. There are so many brands out there that are not protected which could cause a lot of potential issues in the future. It is all very well and good having a great brand, but if it’s not protected, the life of the brand is in jeopardy.
There are three parts to protecting your brand and I am going to look at each in turn.
If you have a brand, you should trademark the name if possible. This can be a very time consuming and potentially complicated, so I would always recommend engaging a trademark specialist. They do this kind of thing day in, day out so they know what they are doing. By using a specialist, you could save yourself a lot of time and effort, as the specialist will be able to know from the outset whether you have a chance at getting your brand name trademarked.
I would also suggest that you become familiar with the IPO website and the different classes and locations available for you to trademark your brand. Even if you engage an expert, these things are worthwhile knowing.
Finally, once you have secured the trademark keep a note of the renewal date. You don’t want to miss it!
2. Social Properties
There are over 500 social platforms available today and a large majority of businesses will not have claimed all the profiles for the brand. A large proportion of the platforms will be relatively unknown but you never know how big that platform could become in the future.
Using a service like Knowem, you can register up to 300 profiles for as little $649 and the best thing is, it will take you just five minutes to get the registration process started.
I like to use Twitter as an example here, as five years ago hardly anyone knew about Twitter but look how much of a widely used platform it is today. Businesses that did not claim their Twitter handle years ago are now having to make do with the next best thing.
The final part of protecting your brand is looking at the domain names that you should be registering. Just having one of the available top level domains (TLDs) is not enough, you need to think about registering all the TLDs that could be important for your business.
Likewise, I would also recommend securing common misspells for your domain name to ensure that people typing in the domain directly and making a mistake will still find you.
By securing the domain variations you will be protecting your brand from cybersquatters. The last thing you want to happen is have someone register a TLD or domain variation and start running another business from it.
The last element of this post and my presentation takes a look at page one domination. People go into great detail researching when it comes to making a purchase online so the last thing you need as a brand is to have listings on page one of the search results that you do not control.
Let’s take a look at two examples of page 1 results, one good and one bad.
Example – Qantas
As you can see from the image below, when you do a search for Qantas everything on page one is positive and/or controlled by the brand.
Example – KFC
The next example was the page one results for KFC. This screenshot was taken earlier this year when KFC were heavily featured in the press but page one is full of negative listings about their brand.
By implementing a page one domination strategy you can have full control over what is displayed on page one for your brand. Think about this as a link building project for all the different profiles your brand owns. You need to start building links to profiles such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube with your brand name as the anchor text to give those profiles more authority. This will help Google to understand that the profiles are relevant to your brand.
This diagram below explains visually how a basic version of this link building project would work.
I hope you have found this post and presentation usual but if you do have any questions, please get in touch with me via leaving a comment at the end of this post.