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Reputation Management Through Social Media Initiatives

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Companies are trying to leverage social media for marketing, customer outreach, and reputation management. They’re logging onto Twitter, creating Facebook pages, and building communities in the hopes of attracting customers.

Social media is probably the best tool for reputation management, and when leveraging your social media presence you must keep that in mind.

You must understand the difference between social media that you own and social media that you don’t own. You own the social media that you empower on your site, your Facebook page, your Twitter account, etc. However, you don’t own what other people are saying on their Twitter accounts, reviews on other sites, etc.

Much too often companies are just focused on understanding how people interact with the social media initiatives controlled by the company. People talk about the number of followers their company Twitter account has or the number of fans their company Facebook page has. While you want to understand the reach of those owned initiatives, the power is actually in what others are saying about your company.

The magic for companies is defining ways in which to harness the power of positive comments while finding the negative comments and addressing them so that they don’t spin out of control.  This can have a drastically negative impact on your business (short term or long term).  This is how social media can be a great tool for reputation management.  It can enable you to perform rumor control.  It can enable you to react directly to what actual customers are saying about your company.

A perfect example of this is news about the Dell laptop batteries overheating and exploding a few years ago. There was an incredible amount of talk about it online before Dell addressed it. It ended up becoming a huge issue leading to recalls.

If Dell had been listening across the Web at that point, it may have been able to identify the issue earlier and get ahead of the problem, working with manufacturing and recalling batteries earlier. It would’ve been seen as getting ahead of the problem rather than getting nailed for ignoring it.  The reputation management they could’ve done through social media could’ve saved them the trouble of having to back peddle.

Unfortunately, many companies still aren’t proactive in listening to what their clients are saying on the Web. To shift corporate thinking, you must put a strategic plan in place to address these kinds of things.

How do you define success around social media? What is your strategy to leverage the positive mentions and address the negative mentions?  A big part of your answer should be to perform reputation management.

Once you have that in place, you can look at the different tools available to understand what’s happening outside of the social media initiatives you control.

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