BRAND IS A VERB AND SOCIAL BY NATURE
Brands cannot be “created” one way – it’s the people’s perception of a company or product. Brand is no longer a noun; it has turned in to a verb. You could actually think brand as an agreement between a customer, customer’s peers (society) and company. Customers can agree or disagree with the agreement. As an outcome reputation and brand perception emerge, which could be good or bad. However, a brand cannot exist without the other parties. Brand is social by nature. However, a brand has never been as social as it has now become because of social media and online influence channels that customers are now very effectively and actively using. Customers have real power now that is global, not just local peers. No doubt that customer behavior has changed. It has completely changed in many areas and will continue doing so. Digital influence is the most important disruptive force along the customer journey.
Customers are actively using their power and they are getting more and more effective tools at their disposal to leverage this power to the most. For example WOT, Web Of Trust, crowd sourced rating of websites and brands has currently apr. 90 million people rating brands and websites. Any people who have WOT application in their browser has reputation score visually presented after every single link available online. WOT is a wonderful example of customers’ currencies becoming more and more influential. WOT is an ultimate rating tool. If some company acts unethically, spam, or in any way prove not to be trustworthy, apr. 90 million people in WOT start giving red to the brand. As an outcome, company’s online reputation score will become lower and eventually red. Red means, that if you try to enter the company’s website, you get a full-page size warning stating that other people have rated this site to be dangerous and not trust worthy. Would you do business with such a company?
Not only does WOT influence it’s users, but also everyone else online. WOT is also delivering reputation data to Google, which can then use it for any given purpose like Google AdWords or (safe) search. It’s not difficult to imagine, that Google might prefer to take people to brands and services that are trustworthy. Also, WOT made a deal with Facebook, which is using reputation data to make Facebook safer for it’s users. This picture will appear, if you are trying to enter un-trustworthy website from Facebook: It is quite remarkable how much people currently have ways and tools to influence brands business. WOT is just one of many tools available.
COMPANY’S REPUTATION MANAGEMENT
The mechanism of social reputation management has a strong emphasis on own touch points and encounters with customers. In case customer is dissatisfied, in every 1/10 cases the customer contacts call center and seek justice, making things right. The large majority apr. 9/10 doesn’t call, they are just silently dissatisfied. The more likely channel for making their point is customer satisfaction questionnaire, except companies only research small sample in order to get feedback suitable for their purposes – not all customers. However, the customer contacting actively is the fever meter and represent major urgency. The customer satisfaction questionnaire and especially customer’s open text answers represent confirmation to that urgency. These people are the most active social players because they have a personal story to tell and strong emotional commitment to the matter. In case they feel neglected they will become your brand destroyers and the 9/10 will join the choir. Here’s how the interfaces work:
What ever emerge from your own customer interface sources will spread all over social networks in case these matters are not taken seriously.
I’d love to hear about your social media analysis experiences. Which tools are you using? What kind of insights and phenomena have you observed?
I find Etuma to be an excellent tool for such analysis. Whitevector, Meltwater and other tools only help you analyze the outcome, what is already being discussed in public forums. Etuma enable you to analyze internal interfaces separately: call center logs, customer satisfaction questionnaires, customer forums & your own Facebook community. Looking at the fever meter results in own touch points and comparing that to the impact on discussions in public social mediums allow you to monitor the impact and velocity of change in the brand perception.