When a brand message appears in one of your social feeds, what is the first thing you notice? It 's probably the picture or the video, but where do your eyes come from? If you are like me, I bet it's on behalf of the company that sponsors the job. In fact, it's often the first thing I look at.
Why? I suppose we automatically submit brand publications to a more rigorous process of checking than the messages from our friends. We are more resilient because we know that these messages have a specific ultimate motivation: to separate us from some of our hard-earned money. We take note of the name of the company to help us decide if we will give this content valuable time.
The main point that we most probably evaluate when we take note of the brand name behind an article is our perception of the brand's reputation. Is this a brand we trust? Have they proven that they provide accurate and useful information? Are their claims credible? Will they even take a few seconds of my time?
The role of social media in the reputation of the brand
Since for many consumers, social media is one of the main ways in which they encounter brands and their messages, it follows that social media play an important role in shaping reputation of the brand. The social media publications of a company are the opportunity to focus on the things that people find most commendable and most relatable about a brand, and of counter negative perceptions that may exist.
Of all the media and outlets where people get to know brands, social media is the most interactive. It's the easiest place for people to interact with businesses, and social media users have shown themselves to be anything but shy to do it! Therefore, it's not just the content of the messages that contributes to the maintenance and enhancement of reputation, but also the way a company deals with consumer conversations in comments and responses to these messages.
Good social monitoring is therefore essential for managing the brand's reputation online. Do you regularly check notifications for all your social networks? Do you use social listening tools to catch the mentions of your brand outside your own messages? These are just the basics of social supervision. The real work of managing the brand's reputation does not begin until you begin to respond regularly and quickly to these comments and mentions and learn to do so in a positive way without harming your brand.
Understanding the Dimensions of Online Reputation
We have established that the reputation of your brand is essential and that social media play a leading role in establishing and improving this reputation. But how does online reputation work? What are the reputational factors that people use to evaluate a brand, consciously or unconsciously?
There are different ways to answer these questions, but one approach I found very useful is the reputation quotient (RQ) developed by the Harris Poll. The QR is "designed to understand how a company is perceived in modern culture" rather than evaluating it in a vacuum.
First, the RQ conducts investigations to determine the most visible brands online, whether for good or bad reasons. In other words, it is the companies that are most likely to attract the attention of consumers because of the reputation they have acquired in the spirit of these consumers.
The marks resulting from this investigation are then evaluated according to six dimensions of reputation. The six dimensions of RQ are:
- Products and services
- Emotional appeal.
- Work environment.
- Financial performance.
- Vision and leadership.
- Social responsibility.
In the rest of this article, I will explore each of these dimensions in light of how you can use social media to build a better reputation in this field. Companies with the strongest positive consumer reputations perform well in all six dimensions.
You should use this framework to assess where your social media campaigns are both strong and weak in terms of reputation management, then think about how you can work harder at weaknesses and capitalize more on those you do already well.
The six dimensions applied
1. Products and Services
As for the six dimensions of the reputation quotient, social media can not do much unless there is already a positive substance with which they can function. That is, social media can not compensate for a real and substantial lack or weakness in this area within the company. In this case, if the general perception is that your products or services are inferior, then the vivid social promotions will mostly run up against derision and negativity.
The precondition for creating social media reputation in this dimension is therefore simple: Strive to provide optimal value and quality to your products and services. Of course, it's something that is usually beyond the reach of most social media teams.
That said, if your company has a bad reputation for what it's offering, your social media can help you get back to a better place as you work to improve what people do not like. .
One way we have seen companies like this – those who had inferior deals that they were trying to improve – are using social media by adopting a radical transparency. Radical transparency means not only not hiding your gaps on social media, but being proactive in recognizing and discussing them, noting. Of course, what are the steps you take to improve quality or performance.
An example of radical transparency consistently applied in our own digital marketing industry is the social interactions of Moz SEO software provider. In fact, such radical transparency is inscribed in their corporate culture, in the form of the acronym "TAGFEE" (Transparent, Genuine, Generous, Fun, Empathic, Exceptional) of the omnipresent brand.
Over the past two years, Moz realized that his keyword tool was lagging behind those of some of his competitors. Moz's chief spokesman at the time, Rand Fishkin, as well as others from Moz, were open about what they were doing to improve their tool. As a result, they have kept most of their customers in a difficult period.
The reputation of a brand on social products and services ultimately rests on the quality of customer service. Is the brand responsive and useful when customers have complaints, problems or suggestions? Remember that for every person with a problem properly helped online, many others watch and store the impression that they have had interaction.
2. Emotional Appeal
The role of emotions remains perhaps one of the most underrated aspects of marketing. It's often recognized, but how many of us are really trying to design the emotional impact in our marketing campaigns? And yet, study after study shows that human decision-making is much more influenced by emotions than by cognitive thinking.
So that's with reputation management. Whether trying to build a campaign to improve reputation or to counter a negative reputation, our main efforts are likely to build and publish facts and arguments to support our cause. However, forgetting the emotional elements cuts us off from one of our most powerful tools.
In my previous Marketing Land column, I gave examples of three brands that are still doing very well organically on Facebook. While the campaigns of all three emotional appeal elements permanently used, the "Mirnavator" by REI stands out in this regard.
REI has gained phenomenal devotion from its customers partly by always identifying with their passion for outdoor living. In their Mirnavator video, they took a step further with an inspiring and heartwarming story of a woman overcoming several challenges (including online bullying) to pursue her passion for running.
Social media content and campaigns that link your brand to the positive and relevant emotions of your customers and prospects are important ways to build positive feelings around your brand. I can not count the number of times I have seen people comment, after seeing that kind of content, that they would become brand customers without further consideration!
3. Work environment
The work environment may seem to be the least important factor to showcase on social media, but does not neglect its impact. First and foremost, and most obviously, describing a positive work experience in your company is important for recruitment. When people plan to apply for a job in a company, they often start their research by investigating its social media feed. Obviously, if they get clues that your business is a good place to work, this can influence their decision.
But advertising positive things about the workplace of your business can also be a component of improving reputation in the eyes of customers and prospects. Nowadays, people are more aware than ever of the power that they have as consumers. With more choices than any moment in history, people look beyond your products and prices. Socially conscious consumers will stay away from companies that are known to mistreat their employees.
To promote your positive and beneficial work environment on social media, do not hesitate to post things like:
- Improvements to company policies.
- Fun or meaningful events sponsored by your company.
- Volunteer effort of employees.
- Candid photos in the office.
- Achievements of individual employees outside their professional responsibilities.
Although none of them seem to have anything to do with marketing or sales, they help reinforce the fact that your business cares about people, and that consumers feel better doing business with you.
4. Financial Performance
Financial performance can be the most delicate of the six dimensions to promote well on social media. It may also be the most boring, but it is not necessarily the case. Transparency on the financial health of your business will depend on your culture and management policies. However, there are circumstances where some financial information can help improve the overall reputation.
Clearly, if your business has a great year, social media can be a good place to boast. People like to be associated with winners and love successful brands because they presumably assume that such success equals superior products and services as well as customer satisfaction.
Being as transparent as possible with your finances also projects an image of honesty and authenticity that can reflect positively on you. Beyond that, if you are a public company, it is also important to keep your investors informed about your financial health.
5. Vision and Leadership
Because of the news on the Internet and social media, the leaders and leaders of well-known brands are subject to more scrutiny than ever before. Most of us can probably name companies that have recently been the subject of major reputation criticism because of high profile scandals or poorly chosen words on the part of senior executives. Conversely, people admire business leaders perceived as visionary, altruistic, generous or outspoken about important causes, and their reputations are associated with the companies that they run.
Therefore, brands that want to be proactive will look to make heroes their leadership. One way to do this is to encourage your company's leaders to become online opinion leaders, to regularly publish relevant content or even to interact via social media.
Of course, this must be done with wisdom and discernment, and a new leader to explore the field of thought leadership would be wise to consult his social media team for advice. But well done, such efforts can do a lot to make consumers feel more connected to a brand.
6. Social Responsibility
This is an area that many large companies have seen with a lot of fear and trembling, but in the era of social media, it is obvious that businesses capable and willing Identify important causes can get rich rewards.
Often, causes can be relatively "safe" – things that most people consider good – like the concern for the environment. Another example from my previous column is the Seventh Generation brand of household products, which manufactures and sells environmentally friendly cleaning products. They are also very active in financing and supporting environmental initiatives, which is of course in agreement with their target customers.
But more and more, we are seeing brands taking what could be considered more controversial stands and benefiting in terms of reputation and even increased sales. For example, I followed the explosive growth of an online mattress seller.
Entering a highly competitive market, they have been little noticed. Then they quietly started presenting pictures of various couples lounging on their mattresses, including messages with a few different gay couples. Predictably, these comments elicited some negative comments, but they were overwhelmed by the positive feedback from people supportive of equality.
As a result, the brand's Facebook messages have gained tremendous organic traction, and their number of followers has grown exponentially. I've seen a lot of comments on their messages similar to this one:
As you can see, taking a firm stand on a social issue, even a potentially controversial one, can lead to real sales and new loyal customers. A growing number of customers seem to want to identify with brands that they believe make a difference in society and vote with their money, even if there is viable competition.
How did you use any of these six dimensions to improve your brand's reputation in social media? Let me know on Twitter at @marktraphagen, and be sure and tag @marketingland in the conversation!
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. The authors of the staff are listed here.