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Published April 2nd 2013

Beyond Social Media Monitoring: Dealing With What You Find

In the complex online reputation management landscape, social media monitoring represents a proven method for listening to customers, fans and prospects in a comprehensive way, and therefore understanding their needs better.

In the quest to become radically transparent, many companies try to gather as much data as possible about them: Who are they? What do they say about you? Would they like to try your next product or service?

In the end, people are what makes business possible and modern CEOs know that they can’t thrive without listening.

Everyday online reputation management

That is what I would define as standard, everyday online reputation management. The global scenario is something like this: nothing is going wrong right now, but if you really want to make the best out of your relationships, follow a set of “must dos” such as:

  1. Earning respect
  2. Embracing transparency
  3. Monitoring what people say
  4. Reacting positively

Point 3 is what social media monitoring is really about: in order to make more effective decisions, you need to know what people are saying about your services and products, but also about competitors and related topics.

Inspecting the web far and wide will give you a more precise idea of how your brand is perceived and how you can turn that into an advantage.

So the waters are calm, your company is listening, your products are getting better and better, and you are taking care of criticism, responding to it or changing your behaviour accordingly.

Learn from their mistakes


Information about the way other companies have failed in their interaction with customers may help you avoid similar mistakes in your business. The history of the internet is long enough to have a few resounding cases of online reputation management fail:

  •  How to destroy a magazine

Would you like to have your blog post stolen by a magazine? When a blogger complained about his recipe having been used without permission by Cook’s Source, he got a reply stating that he should have paid the magazine for the editing. The magazine went out of business, citing the incident as the ‘final straw’ for the company.

  •  Don’t call your client a “loser”

When Amy’s Baking company owner replied to a one-star Yelp review with a long series of insults to her customer, she probably didn’t imagine becoming a famous case of ORM fail.

  • “We don’t care about your laptop!”

This is basically what Dark Horse Café meant when tweeting back to a customer who was complaining because she could not plug her laptop in the cafe. “We are in the coffee business, not the office business”. Needless to say, such angry behaviour will only scare existing and future customers.

These cases are self-explanatory but make us understand how the internet is a powerful medium where nothing can really be deleted.

But what if something happens you really don’t know what to do about?

Something you have nothing to do with; you didn’t do anything wrong, your products/services were delivered efficiently, you have thousands of happy customers… but somebody attacks you…

Atomic bombs

Constructive criticism is ok, but what if you are dealing with a ‘professional’ attacker? Someone who is damaging your business with false claims and in an illegal way?

21st century business cards are becoming irrelevant. The first thing your potential customer will do to know more about you is doing a simple Google search. Do you like the results that show up on the first page? That is your real business card.

Google results have a huge impact on our decision making process. How much money is your business losing because of hate sites and false information posted all over the Internet?

Let’s have a look at three of the most common attacks you should be aware of:

1. The hate site

Somebody created a site with the only purpose of defaming you or your brand. All the content or part of it is based on false information and it is unlikely that someone reading it will do business with you.

2. Ripoff sites

Sites like Ripoff Report and Pissed Consumer are very useful platforms for reporting and finding out illegal behaviour and unethical companies. However, they can’t verify if the information provided by users is good or not, so somebody who doesn’t like you might use them to hurt you.

3. False reviews

Yelp and other sites allow us to rate our customer experience. Was that pizza good? Did you like your plumber service? Would you recommend this hairstylist to your friends? Needless to say, if somebody simply states something false or without even knowing your product, you have a problem.

Quick, we’re losing him! 

we're losing him

It is clear that this represents a completely different scenario compared to the “everyday ORM” explained above. You are losing customers, and possibly a very high percentage of your company turnover. Here’s what you can do to restore your online reputation: 

1) Investigate

You probably need professional investigation services to find out who is the attacker behind the defamatory content. With the help of cyber crime investigators and IP tracing technologies you can take the first step.

2) Remove

Whilst that web page shows up on Google’s first, second and third results page, false information is affecting your reputation and sales. Legal liaison and effective PR will help you get rid of unwanted content, both on hate and review sites.

3) Promote

This emergency reputation management scenario is not only about removing illegal content. It’s also about promoting your best self: with an aggressive SEO strategy you can boost the visibility of honest reviews, company content and informative pages.

What about you? Are you sure nothing bad about your brand is happening behind your back? 

Dan Virgillito is a content strategist for Massive PR International, an online reputation management firm helping companies quickly restore their digital brand reputation.


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