While estimates vary, it’s likely that between sixty and eighty percent of consumers now research products, services, and the companies that sell them on the web prior to making a decision to purchase. Because of that new dynamic, it’s crucial for your business to be found easily on the search engines and for there to be positive reviews and/or chatter about your company when users look for conversations about your products and services in social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube.
While many still scoff at the idea of Twitter’s 140 character “tweets” carrying any weight, the fact is that social media is playing a larger role in shaping the perception of companies and their products every day and reputation management companies must adjust for that new dynamic. According to Marketing Sherpa’s “2009 Social Media Marketing and PR Benchmark Guide”, “At least two-thirds of consumers agree that recommendations and information from other people online are valuable, relevant, and influence their purchase decision.”
Like it or not, a growing percentage of your potential customers are going to their social networks for at least a part of their pre-purchase research. Imagine this scenario: Someone with accounts on Twitter and Facebook buys a product which has to be assembled but tries to do it without reading the instructions. The resulting experience is miserable, the product doesn’t work, and that consumer now has an ax to grind. Despite the problem being the consumer’s own fault, they send out “tweets” and write on their Facebook wall on how frustrating the experience was, and on, and on. You now have a definite reputation management issue on your hands.
If anyone else joins the conversation, the problem just continues to grow as more people in each network warn their friends about a new “nightmare” product. In this theoretical scenario, you’re not alone. Statistics show that at least 60% of companies do not take part in conversations to respond to negative reviews and commentary and do not monitor what is being said about them. It is a sheepish CEO who finds out from a customer (or a reporter) that his company has been trashed for three days running on the social networks. If you’re not monitoring these networks, you could be at risk of the same type of outcome.
This makes online monitoring of the social networks at least as important as monitoring the search engines and traditional media for news. In fact, the growing popularity of the social networks and the ability for consumers to generate media about whatever is on their minds makes it ever more likely that at some point your company is going to come up in conversation. If that conversation is headed toward the negative, being able to jump in with reputation management techniques at the earliest point possible can save you a lot of grief and probably a lot of money as well.
There are online monitoring tools available for companies comfortable with doing it themselves but there is growing trend toward professional monitoring for the purpose of online reputation management, faster, and more effective responses should the need arise. Reputation Management LLC offers comprehensive monitoring across the web and social networks for a nominal monthly fee. Call Reputation Management LLC today at (866) 530 7703.