MARKIT Group CEO and founder Nannette Staropoli was featured this week in the prestigious Gulfshore Business Magazine, discussing brand reputation management. Her article here is the latest in a series of speaking and writing engagements aimed at helping businesses reach their full potential, online and offline. The article is re-posted below, and you can also view it on gulfshorebusiness.com here.
Business Intelligence: Social Media
Rants and raves online can impact your brand.
Managing Social Media
The brand that you’ve worked so hard to develop and cultivate can be instantly damaged by negative comments online.
Keeping track of likes, dislikes and other remarks on Facebook, Twitter, and search engines such as Google and Bing is key to managing your online reputation. “Online negative word-of-mouth marketing will spread like wildfire,” says Nannette Staropoli, founder, CEO and chief social media strategist of MARKIT Group, which has offices in Bonita Springs; New York City; Pittsburgh; and Charleston, S.C. “That’s the challenge: to keep your arms around the potential for disaster.”
Staropoli shared her top tips for online reputation management and monitoring.
1. Analyze your online reputation.
Start off with a simple Google search to identify sites where your company is listed or discussed. These can range from search engines to review sites to forums to social media. Once you have a sense of how much exposure you have online, you can monitor remarks and information. “Someone may Tweet on a Saturday, ‘Stay away from X Honda, their service people are just lousy.’ Monitoring is a very important part of it,” she says.
2. Create a reputation management team.
Identify a team of people, including senior management, who help monitor the business’ online reputation. “First they have to admit that it could hurt them. Then they have to embrace it. We cannot control this. So, we have to have a nice proactive system in place,” she says.
Staropoli suggests setting up an organized process to address positive and negative replies (including the number of days in which management or employees must respond to a negative review).
Monitoring this effort can be time-consuming for a company, and that has contributed to the increase in online reputation management and monitoring firms. A comprehensive online monitoring program, which includes responding to comments, typically starts at $350 a month, Staropoli says.
3. Claim ownership of listings.
“The Internet has become the Wild West. Anyone can list profiles for anybody,” she says. “Make sure your information is accurate and up to date.” Notify various sites that list businesses, such as Bing, YP [Yellow Pages] and Yelp, that you are the owner of the business, and make changes if there are errors. Some sites may be industry specific, like TripAdvisor.
4. Ask customers to enhance your reputation.
Whether it’s at checkout, in email marketing or on your Facebook page, invite happy customers to share positive reviews online.
5. Don’t ignore rants.
When you’ve eavesdropped virtually on a negative conversation, use that information for operational improvement, she says. The comment should be forwarded to the general manager and service department, who can take action and follow up by changing operations. Then you can respond to the negative review to briefly share that the service department has improved.
In another case, if you receive a one-star rating, reply back by thanking them for taking the time to comment and providing your email and phone number to invite them to contact you to discuss their experience.