Managing your reputation online – responding to criticism
Or, more recently, how BP has been facing daily attacks from a fake BP Twitter account about the oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico. Both situations highlight the importance of online reputation management.
A recent article about social media and online reputation management, published by Director magazine, suggests that businesses are weary of using social media for fear that it’s like “giant focus groups” but with two crucial differences - ”the questions can’t be controlled and the debate takes place in public.”
That’s not to say that businesses should avoid using social media. Quite the opposite in fact, given that the benefits of using social media far outweigh the concerns that organisations have about safeguarding their online reputation. After all, even if your business chooses not to engage in the online conversation, people are talking about your products and services whether you like it or not. Surely it’s far better to acknowledge the presence of these conversations rather than ignoring them to the potential detriment of your business, especially given that any business would be adequtely prepared to enter the world of social media without fear with the right social media strategy and social media policy in place.
In fact, brands who take on board the criticisms they hear on Facebook, Twitter or through social media monitoring, and then try to improve on them, will be the ones who continue to grow and prosper. Every single piece of information that is picked up online, be it good or bad, is a valuable learning. As Twitter co-founder Evan Williams stated, businesses need to work on their “ability to embrace criticism as well as praise” when it comes to social media.
A good example of a brand that has taken Evan’s advice is Domino’s pizza. Instead of cowering in shame or responding angrily to negative online reviews and comments about their products, Dominos pizza met the criticism head on. They made a documentary describing the extent of their problems and the efforts they were making to improve their products and services. They posted the documentary on YouTube, including the fairly harsh responses from a focus group which deemed the pizza “devoid of any flavour”. The cameras then followed the chefs as they made improvements to the pizzas and then asked focus groups to re-test the new and improved version. They also added a completely un-moderated section to their website to allow people to say whatever the hell they liked about the new offering.
What’s refreshing about this reaction is that it’s completely transparent and wholly honest. Dominos acknowledged the shortcomings their customers highlighted and made every effort to address the issues.
Even more intelligent is the fact that Dominos clearly thought about their long-term business strategy rather than the immediate need to quell any negative comments. They openly addressed the issues that their customers were complaining about so that these same people would spread word of their proactive response via the same fast-spreading medium. In other words, if you act on negative comments and turn them into positive experiences then the people who you’ve listened to are likely to become your biggest advocates and will start doing your marketing work on your behalf.
To find out more about manging your reputation online and responding to criticism come to B2B Marketing’s seminar about online reputation management.
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