Over 2,000 years ago, the Italian playwright Publilius Syrus wrote, “A good reputation is more valuable than money.” Politicians and corporate leaders around the world can probably agree that this statement is as true now as when it was written. Properly managing the reputation of an organization can make a huge difference in the success or failure of business ventures, social agendas, and private initiatives.
For good or ill, many people learn about organizations and develop opinions based on information they receive online. A good reputation makes it easier to attract new clients and supporters, as well as keep the loyalty of old ones. The digital age has made reputation management more difficult than in the past, since everyone has the ability to leave comments on news stories, write posts on blogs, or share information through social media. However, the digital age has also given brand managers new tools to help them keep track of what is being said on the internet.
What is Brand Management and Why Is It Important?
Understanding the concept of brand management is simple enough. Brand management is the process of analyzing communications to see how a brand is positioned in a market and how well it is perceived by target audiences. A good reputation is important because when all things are equal, people will choose to work with someone with a good reputation.
To illustrate, during the last decade, some products made in China turned out to be dangerously unsafe, damaging the reputation of products made in China. If goods made in China are priced the same as goods made elsewhere, people will be more inclined to not by the product made in China. Similarly, American manufacturers can charge more for their products, since they know people are willing to pay more to buy from a company with a good reputation.
The importance of brand management and reputation can be seen from the amount of money BP is putting into advertisements that showcase their efforts to clean the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon incident. Even with commodity like oil, a poor reputation can cost a company billions of dollars in sales.
Free Tools to Monitor a Brand
Monitoring a brand online is something businesses can do for themselves at the basic level. There are several free online tools that can provide organizations with very useful information. As one would expect, one of these free tools is from Google. Google Alerts lets users have search results sent directly to an e-mail address. By searching for the name of the organization, flagship products, or industry news, the savvy web user can ensure they know what people are saying and posting about their business on many websites.
Google Alerts is a great starting point for searching the web for brand management, but online reputations are more about social media than individual web pages. Here are a few other tools that brand managers should take a look at:
Tweet Beep – With millions of tweets being produced every hour, monitoring a brand on the Twitter platform can be difficult, but TweetBeep can help. It sends hourly updates every time a Tweet that links to a website or blog is produced (even when the URL has been shortened). Users can also keep track of conversations that mention an organizations, its products, @replies, @mentions, and more.
Naymz (http://www.naymz.com/) – Naymz is a great tool for montiroring a brands reputation on social media. Users can check the social influence of a brand by seeing how many Likes the organization receives and other forms of social sharing. The system calculates data from LinkedIN, Facebook and Twitter.
Social Mention (http://socialmention.com/) – Another good tool for searching user generated content for references to a brand. The Social Mention engine searches blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, microblogging sites as well as top social media sources like Flickr, YouTube and others. One benefit of Social Mention is that it aggregates whether the sentiment of the mentions were positive, negative or neutral. It even shows what users online are posting the most comments, which can be especially helpful if it turns out negative comments are the work of a malicious misinformation campaign.
MonitorThis (http://alp-uckan.net/free/monitorthis/) – This is an interesting tool that allows users to setup a special feed that sends real-time updates from 20 different search engines for terms the user select. This means that the updates can be setup to show on a regular rss feed format.
It’s important to remember that the best way to monitor and maintain an organization’s reputation is to engage target audiences on social media. Whether the conversation is positive or negative, by engaging users on social media channels, an organization helps prevent damaging conversations from moving to locations online where they have less control over the content and less chances to reply.
In the end, a brand’s reputation may be the factor that determines whether or not an organization accomplishes its goals. And while the task may seem daunting, there are plenty of tools (free tools, no less) to help 21st Century brand managers make since of all of the feedback that target audiences are produces.