The sheer quantity of different information sources online has resulted in a media circus. The various blogs, tweets and mainstream media outlets are like different acts vying for user attention. Online reputation management amid all the chaos can be difficult. It seems only appropriate that a circus insider, Jessica Berlin of Cirque du Soleil, weighed in with some tried and true advice in Reputation Monitoring and Management.
Andy Beal, Internet Marketing Consultant with Marketing Pilgrim and Lee Odden, CEO of TopRank Online Marketing and primary author of this blog, also contributed their advice for keeping the positive spotlight on your brand in this session moderated by Todd Friesen.
Why Monitor Online?
Lee pointed out that both your brand influencers and those influenced by your brand live online; your customers, prospects, competitors, etc. What is being said about your brand online can have a huge impact, both positive and negative, on your business.
“It’s not just a search engine, it’s a reputation engine,” Lee said.
Rankings in the search engine results page (SERP) can be as valuable as a hit in mainstream media due to the volume of people who see it. A negative SERP ranking for your brand can come in the form of a YouTube video, blog post, Flickr image, forum thread or just about any format imaginable.
Andy Beal pointed out a wide range of reasons to monitor your brand online, both positive and negative, including:
- Getting product ideas
- Finding new relevant keywords for SEO
- Reaching out to brand evangelists
- Learning blogger sentiment
- Conducting informal market research
- Discovering industry trends
Regardless of your reason for brand monitoring, a brand can be missing huge opportunities by failing to properly monitor and manage online reputation.
What to Monitor
Andy stated that a given brand should be monitoring more than just the brand name in order to effectively manage online brand reputation and fully utilize online resources that can improve brand perceptions online. He mentioned monitoring the company name, individual products, company executives, competitors, clients, industry patents, reviews and more.
Different companies will want to monitor online buzz for a unique mix of these elements in order to serve their purpose. To effectively monitor the online brand reputation of its six different Las Vegas Shows, the marketing team at Cirque du Soleil looks for:
- Customer Experiences Cirque du Soleil considers its customer experience to encompass everything from purchasing the ticket to when they leave the theater. They look online for both good and bad customer comments relating to any part of the overall experience so they can address concerns and build strong brand connections.
- Information Accuracy The team looks into any negative online mentions of Cirque du Soleil to correct any inaccurate information.
- Brand Mention Wording With six different shows in Las Vegas, Cirque du Soleil’s marketing team wants ensure each show is getting mentioned distinctively and not under the Cirque du Soleil umbrella term.
- Sphere of Influence The team looks for indications of how far and wide mentions of Cirque do Soleil spread, to see if one blog post mention can spread into social networks, bookmarking sites or even mainstream media.
Monitoring Tools to Use
With the circus of different media outlets online, brand reputation managers need an arsenal of tools in order to effectively monitor brand sentiment online. All three panelists mentioned several good tools to use in order to monitor your brand reputation. With most of these services, you can set up an RSS that alerts you of new items relating to specific brand names or keyword terms:
- Moreover.com Monitor competitors, industry news and trends with this site’s very granular news categories
- Google.com/trends Monitor up and coming industry trends to get ideas for new products or promotions
- Technorati.com Monitor blog posts and social media mentions
- Backtype.com Monitor blog comments about your brand or a competitor, or blog comments relating to your keywords
- Blogpulse.com/trend Monitor the trending of keyword phrases or your brand name to see if people are talking about you more or less
- Keotag.com Monitor tags of your choice across several bookmarking and tagging sites
- Boardtracker.com Monitor forum posts
- Copernic.com Monitor changes or updates on any given website
- Radian6/Buzzlogic Monitor a variety of different online media outlets and a wide range of social media
Marketers should also monitor their brand name in social media sites like YouTube, Flickr and Twitter to effectively manage brand buzz in multiple media formats.
How to Monitor
Lee outlined both a short-term and long-term approach to effective online brand reputation management. In the short-term, a company wants to ensure positive brand mentions are ruling the SERPs, as the search engine rankings tend to be highly visible. To do so, a company should focus on:
- Creating a brand optimization process
- Optimizing all digital assets including text, video, images, audio, press releases, etc.
- Optimizing across departments to ensure online assets from all departments are optimized. For example, HR should be optimizing job posts
In the long term, a brand should be working to identify, qualify and engage dissenters by correcting any inaccuracies and responding directly to negative mentions.
Jessica outlined Cirque du Soleil’s current online PR practices to illustrate the changes online brand reputation management has undergone in recent years. In particular, she highlighted transparency and building long-term trust between Cirque du Soleil, journalists and fans. Cirque du Soleil actually allows fans to control several of its ‘official’ groups on social sites such as MySpace, and gives them inside information to post as content. They also allow journalists and bloggers greater access to Cirque du Soleil content to build strong media relations.
What are the Results?
Companies can decrease attention on negative brand mentions with effective optimization tactics that result in multiple positive rankings on the SERPs. By directly addressing negative brand mentions in a personal manner, a company can turn a brand de-evangelist into a brand evangelist. Strong and open relationships with content producers in the form of journalists, bloggers and fans can prevent negative buzz and help ensure only accurate brand information exists in the online sphere. The comprehensive brand management advice from Jessica, Andy and Lee can help you make sense of the online media circus and keep a positive focus on your brand.
Check back with the TopRank Marketing Blog for more blog coverage of Pubcon 2008 and the Pubcon photos set on Flickr. Also be sure to visit the video interview on reputation management with TopRank CEO Lee Odden and Mike McDonald of WebProNews.
Other Search Industry blogs covering this session include:
- Search Engine Roundtable – Tamar
- WeBuildPages – The Lisa
- WebProNews – Doug