Brand reputation is one of the most valuable assets of any company. And it is something that can be almost impossible to win back if it is lost or tarnished. Unfortunately, quantifying the impact or success of a brand, as it is perceived by consumers, can be very difficult.
One of the biggest contributors to a brand's reputation is its online presence. This is not just its own website and digital marketing activity, but also what consumers are saying and sharing about it. These opinions spread almost instantly and are not easy to delete, deny or put a stop to, even if they are inaccurate, so brand owners need to be fully aware of what is being said about their brand on a real-time basis. Especially as what starts online can soon spread to other media; for example, a tweet can become a blog post, which can then end up on television or in a newspaper.Big Brother.
Most communication agencies offer brand reputation monitoring or management services and will also help create strategies for fixing a brand's reputation. There are various tools available to businesses to try to cover some of this ground themselves.
Simple alert systems like the one offered by Google and Yahoo can email you each time your brand is mentioned anywhere online. You'd still need to get these collated and analysed, but it's a good place to start.
If your business or brand has a blog, there are tools that can track all reactions, comments or links to your blog that appear elsewhere, so you can see responses to your latest posts as they happen. Examples of these are Technorati and Backtype.Listen to Everything.
There are also a few more sophisticated programs which can aggregate information from a number of social media resources, so you can track comments, posts, mentions, links and alerts relating to your brand, product, profile or site. FriendFeed and Social Mention are two slightly different types of tool that fulfil a similar role. They even feature a number of basic analytical functions.
A comprehensive brand reputation monitoring system also needs to take other media sources into account, not just user-generated social media. It's also possible that your brand or product could be mentioned in the national newspapers or on TV without you knowing in advance, you shouldn't totally overlook these channels. Including news sites in any online monitoring should cover this to some extent, as TV and print news are almost always covered online as well.
And don't forget to participate in conversations about your brand – responding to criticisms and thanking consumers who compliment you are important.
All in all, brand reputation monitoring is a 24/7/365 endeavour. Although the tools described above are a useful starting point, once you grow to a certain size or develop a large portfolio of brands or products, you will need to deploy a specialist team to take charge of this situation. One option is to hire new people to fulfil the function in-house, but a more cost-effective route might be to enlist the services of a brand reputation monitoring firm.
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