How your brand can benefit from monitoring and connecting online

Paying attention to your brand can be easy and invaluable. Many larger brands employ tools or services to monitor offline mentions and communications, but how many are connecting this fully online?

At the most basic level, monitoring references to your product, brand or service can be achieved simply through Google Alerts. There are more advanced solutions that can track the importance of the content, the importance of the poster and the potential influence of a post, but we'll leave that for a later post.

By using Google Alerts, you can easily get alerted when your chosen terms are mentioned online, and picked up by Google. The speed of which you can see these alerts [from time of publishing] can be mere minutes (See this post on the speed at which blog posts are now being indexed by Google.)

But getting your alerts is no use if you don't have a plan to do something about it, so it is important that all brands or companies [regardless of size] have a plan of who is going to respond to the post and what is going to be said.

WIth positive stories, there is an argument that you don't need to respond, and we can pick up on that in a minute. With negative posts, this is your opportunity to do something about it. You have to remember that when people are posting negative stories, they are often doing it because they feel they wouldn't get the feedback from emailing the customer support/helpdesk.

So, if you have a plan to respond, and do respond you have the opportunity to score brownie points, and turn a detractor into a promoter, just by showing you care. The same can be said for a positive story, if someone has taken the time to write about a brand or product, wouldn't it be great if their effort was recognised. For most bloggers and 'content producers' (i.e. not large sites or journalists) such a response would make themfeel even more positive about the brand, which can only be a good thing.

I'll give you an example, using a post I made this week about Plaxo. Now Plaxo has been around for a long time, but has now launched Plaxo Pulse which seems to be positioning itself as your central point for information connection. I can sign up to Pulse and hook in my Linkedin, Facebook, Myspace data etc. which could be fab. I duly did this and found some of the elements lacking, so I blogged about it here.

I ended with the comment, 'Come on Plaxo, you can do better' and went to bed.

In the morning, I had a comment from John McCrae, vp of marketing at at Plaxo, it read,"

"Jamie, Thanks for the feedback. We agree with you. Our profile offering needs to evolve quickly to a state in which it leverages the investment you’ve made elsewhere. That’s certainly our plan, so please be patient with us."

Great! With John taking the effort to respond, I felt greater interest in continuing my relationship with Plaxo, and I became a promoter of Plaxo, rather than a detractor. For a small amount of effort, a lot of good will was delivered.

I posted another article about Clicky, which you will have heard me talking about on the [UK-netmarketing] list saying it was great, but with some basic flaws. So far, I've had no response.

Which brand do I feel warmer to?

With larger companies, it is sometimes not as easy to just respond to blog posts, but this can be fixed with an editorial/PR strategy to ensure a framework is developed and stuck to, enabling free day to day ability to act on this information, so there shouldn't be an excuse not to do it.

What's the risk?/How can I get rid of these negative comments?

These are two regular questions I get asked when consulting and speaking. Well:

The Risk: The biggest risk is you don't monitor the chatter, and you don't have a plan for managing it.

How can I get rid of these negative comments? The question you should be asking is, how can I embrace such commentary to the benefit of the business, and the consumer. Ignoring these comments will only make it worse.

If you do nothing else after reading this post, set up a Google Alert to see what people are saying about your brand or product, just remember the words of Oscar Wilde - "there is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."