Between blogs, forums and review sites the public have plenty of options when it comes to expressing their opinion about a companies brand. Freedom of speech allows them to do this. This in itself is no massive problem right? The problem occurs when a straight Google search for your companies or brands name reveals pages of negative comments – a terrible first impression I think you will agree.
How can you see what is being said about your brand?
Well the simplest thing to do is just search for your brand name. If you are doing your job right you should get your company website up first then a bunch of great reviews and comments after that. Unfortunately for many this is not the case. If your results do look good you should not just be satisfied with that. As mentioned on CK’s blog try typing in your brand name followed by the word “sucks” or something less American if your a British company and then see what happens. This is a way to find out what negative feedback you are getting.
Google provide a free service called Google Alerts. Here you can set up custom alerts which will send you regular emails showing the latest results based on your chosen query. It is important to know what people are saying about you. You can set up many alerts to keep you informed not only about your brand, but also key members or staff, competitors and industry news.
There are paid services such as Trackur which are similar to Google Alerts but search through many search engines, not just Google.
The first thing you should do once you have set up your alerts is monitor them. You need to understand the problem and how widespread it is. Have you recently had a product call back? This could be backlash from a problem that has already been sorted. Once you understand the nature of the negative feedback you can think about dealing with it.
People generally respond well when companies join in blog or forum discussions. This shows humanity and breaks down the image of a faceless corporation. You are also able to address individual needs more easily. Those who complain like to feel they have received personal attention from those with the power to do something about it. By satisfying the one noisy complainer, you could convert it into a great review. This is of course the best possible outcome and a win win for both parties. A new breed of business consultants are also popping up for online reputation management services.
A blogger who has complained about you, and had their problem dealt with in person is likely to blog again about you. A few of these and you will soon dominate the search results for your company with positive reviews. This feedback from customers is something you can really use to help develop and grow your business. You have to remember though, prevention is much more effective than curing. Negative publicity tends to go viral much more so than positive publicity. It is the nature of the beast.
Does your business has a system for monitoring public opinion? What tools do you use to help monitor? Do you join in the discussion?