5 No-Brainers for Online Brand Management
Brands don’t have it easy in the Internet age. Years of equity can be washed away in a moment by a careless social media post, a misstep in the marketplace or a piece of fake news -- all with the potential to be amplified with a mouse click. Needless to say, online brand management has become a critical discipline for the entire enterprise, from the C-suite down to the front lines.
Yet in many ways, the rules of online brand management are grounded in the basics: Know your customer. Listen to what they're saying. Respond. Stay true to your mission and values.
What's different is that today these rules must be applied across new, ever-evolving mediums that have eliminated the distance between brand and audience. Whether seeking to build equity, or to defend against threats, marketers must pay attention to the online space, or risk great damage to their brands.
Unfortunately, there’s no single rulebook to follow for success. But there are a few basic tools to keep in your strategy and to refine as you learn and as the media environment changes.
Here are five basic principles for online brand management.
1. Find the Chatter
Make no mistake about it: Your brand is being talked about online. Somewhere.
Don’t fall into the trap of “out of sight, out of mind.” Be aggressive in seeking out where the discussions are taking place. Watch for mentions on community forums, online review sites, blogs and in other corners of the Internet, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. As Lisa James, a product marketer for SAP, writes on Forbes Brand Voice: “Rule #1 of online reputation management: Be where your customers are.”
If you’re not, then you risk losing control of the narrative. And once “off-brand” perceptions take hold, it becomes an uphill battle.
Just because you find the conversation doesn't necessarily mean you need to jump right in, or even at all. It's fundamentally important to know what people are saying, but monitoring and listening aren't merely defensive measures. The conversations provide valuable learning opportunities to see if the right messages are resonating.
Social listening can also help other parts of the organization, from customer service and support to sales, according to the Ireland-based Digital Marketing Institute.
Still, having a passive, listen-only approach to online brand management can only achieve so much. The true value of finding communities where your brand is being discussed is to engage, both proactively and reactively.
Engaging helps retain customers, improves their experience of your brand and builds relationships. The focus should be on helping customers and representing your brand values where appropriate, rather than on selling and promoting per se.
4. Add Value
Being proactive is the most powerful way of building a relationship – and demonstrates your broad understanding of your customers, who spend time online because they have a question or a problem. Imagine the power of offering solutions before they even ask!
Being proactive enables your brand to talk to customers on their level. Speak to them about their concerns. Solve their problems. Answer their questions. And don’t be afraid to do this by telling a story. Make sure you do this in a way that is consistent with the brand's values - that is where clear brand and content strategies are essential.
By adding value in this manner, you build loyalty and authority. It also “helps set appropriate expectations, reduces downstream customer service issues, and increases revenue by reducing uncertainty,” says Jay Baer, founder and president, Convince & Convert.
5. Use Technology
You’re not wrong if you think this sounds both time-consuming and expensive. But you can make it easier by investing in the right tools. Brand management software and services enable marketers to go beyond playing defense. The information you gather online can help transform customer relationships, says MarCom Central, a cloud-based marketing portal.
At Affogata, we’re dedicated to the mission of helping customer organizations collect and leverage insights from publicly available open big data. Our platform helps distill information into action, delivering it at the right time and place to the appropriate stakeholders. We call our approach “the ERP of Open Big Data.”
Get in touch with us for a demo to simplify your online brand management challenge.