The current trends in Social Media Brand Monitoring focus around your PR/Marketing agency. They provide tools to create nice reports telling you what the public perception of your brand is – and perhaps some alerts when something “bad” happens.
Led by Radian6 – this trend is very powerful and shouldn’t be ignored. But the real questions facing you (COO, CEO, VP of Product) are:
- Is there any real advantage to cleaning up after the perception is already created?
- If so – how the heck to we operationalize that?
The first question goes to the advantage of quickly (in near real time) engaging, participating and correcting the issues that cause a negative brand perception. As I’ve said before – the urgency is preventing the perception (and attendant backlash) from becoming the story. The real danger is having the original negative perception create a story – the story about how the Social Media universe erupted in outrage. That story will repeat and re-enforce the initial negative perception and create another, more subtle and destructive one – that you are not listening, empathetic and responsive.
more after the jump…
An excellent example of the advantage of quickly engaging, participating and correcting negative perceptions as they occur comes from (our favorite case study) Scott Monty at Ford just this week.
Ford today sent fansiteTheRangerStation.com (dedicated to lovers of their small pick-up trucks) a lawyer’s letter over copyright violations. This sent the dozens of other Ford fan sites, many of which use Ford branded names, into a tizzy over fears that they too would be asked to stop using Ford names in their URL’s and site materials. By the time the story surfaced on major car blogs like Jalopnik and Autoblog the story had been boiled down to Ford’s lawyers asking for $5,000 or the site gets shut down.
This is an excellent example of something you might do – protect your copyright and send takedown notices to offending sites. But in the Social Media world this can quickly become a very negative event – especially when directed at your most ardent supporters. So how do you prevent this from getting out of hand? Like this:
Luckily Ford’s Head of Social Media Scott Monty ( @scottmonty on Twitter) was keeping track of these developments. Monty was using Twitter to follow the brewing controversy and quickly began responding online. One post that he began sending out in reply to inquiries was this:
“I’m in active discussions with our legal dept. about resolving it. Pls retweet #ford”
This let fans and interested parties know that Monty was acting as a window into what was going on online for Ford’s legal and corporate team. He continued to Tweet as he received more information and finally was able to clarify the situation.
It turns out the issue was really the fact that the site was being used to sell counterfeit Ford parts. Beyond posting on Twitter, Monty wisely usedTheRangerStation’s own forum to get the message out, clearly in conjunction with the site as they locked the forum to keep the message clean and clear. This was also a great way to win the trust of the site and its followers and even send some traffic their way.
He then made sure to socialize Ford’s response on Twitter to get the word out:
“Here is Ford’s official response to the fansite cease & desist debaclehttp://is.gd/b3qd #ford Please retweet”
The entire lifecycle of this was less than 24 hours – a model of rapid response using social media. A story that was beginning to spread like wildfire on the blogs and social networks was effectively answered using those same tools.
By simply engaging, participating and correcting Scott Monty (single handed) was able to diffuse the outrage and prevent the perception from becoming the story.
This – to me – is the obvious part. You have to be engaged in Social Media – and there is very little controversy regarding the value and ROI for doing so. The challenge – and the unmet need is – how do you operationalize it?
Let’s face it – Scott Monty is great, but very soon there will be too much input from Social Media for him to keep up with. And that reality holds true for any organization. You’ll need to create efficient mechanisms to collect, distribute, and interact with Social Media brand events.
That is the problem JustSignal is focused on solving. Today one Scott Monty can (just barely) engage, participate and correct the Social Media brand events as they occur. Operationally – you’ll want to have a team of people reviewing, engaging, participating and correcting. You’ll want to not only diffuse negative Social Media brand events but also re-enforce positive brand events.