When it comes to online brand management, most businesses are already familiar with the more common techniques such as using SEO to gain top search engine positions or content and keyword control. However, many are failing to recognize the importance of social media and customer reviews sites for online brand management.
According to the 2010 Pew Internet & American Life study, a staggering 78 percent of U.S. Internet users have researched a company or product before making a purchase. These customers are not only going to the prospective business’ site, but are searching neutral sites for reviews like Viewpoints.com, Angieslist.com, or mainstream social media like Facebook or Twitter.
In order to protect your brand over the long term, you need to construct a brand management plan in addition to plotting appropriate SEO work. Brand managers should prepare to monitor the following two areas on a regular basis:
Company reviews are just as beneficial to companies as they are to consumers. While customers benefit from finding which products and services will most adequately suit their needs, a business is able to obtain free word-of-mouth marketing. On the downside, discussion boards and forums can also become a breeding ground for negative comments.
A company must have reviews that can be easily found. Having no reviews can be just as detrimental to a business as negative reviews. Reputation managers should coordinate with brand managers to ask customers to review their products on third-party sites. Brand managers should also employ SEO tactics and help bump up sites that paint the best portrait of the company.
Brand managers must understand negative comments will be posted at some point and that they should respond quickly to resolve the customer’s issue and demonstrate great customer service and care. Potential clients realize that not every customer can be pleased, and if they see that you are willing to remedy a poor experience immediately, they will be more willing to give you their business.
All social media
Brand managers and their teams must also understand social media sites if they wish their company to be and remain successful. Social networking sites can be tricky because they serve a dual purpose. Not only do they entice a new customer base and serve as a PR and advertising tool, but are now at the beginning stages of determining search engine results. Because social media sites serve multiple purposes, they must be given special attention. A series of poor Facebook posts or comments or a few sloppy tweets can do heavy damage to a brand.
Brand managers should make sure that daily posts and tweets provide info on industry news, products being created, upcoming events, and also public apologies and quick remedies of any complaints. For success on social media platforms, Facebook users can expect to post strong content once daily, while Twitter accounts should offer two to four tweets a day. Remember, a neglected account leads to less-active users and customers unfollowing or unliking a brand.
The rise of social media has made it easier than ever before for companies and organizations to obtain national and global recognition as well as a better idea of their customer base. However, the ease in which these sites spread information has also changed the way in which many companies manage their online reputation. To protect and promote their brands effectively, company reps must be proactive about online brand management, and a great place to begin is with keyword searches on search engines and the numerous social networking platforms.
Matt Polsky is the senior content manager and reputation manager for VA Mortgage Center. A version of this article originally ran on Journalistics.com.