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July 16, 2014

Social media – the ticking time bomb

Simon considers PR Week’s article on social media – the ticking time bomb and looks at how businesses can make the most of online opportunities.

The publication of the Reputation Report has brought online reputation management and social media into the spotlight once again. The report, commissioned by Igniyte, is a study of 500 UK businesses owners and higher decision makers. It looks at issues relating to company online reputation and the impact on business.

In their article ‘Businesses voice fear over ‘ticking time bomb’ of social media’, PR Week make reference to Igniyte’s report. Interestingly though, it seems, according to PR Week’s article, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said they had not even considered the question of online reputation.

The CBI  is the ‘UK’s premier business lobbying organisation, providing a voice for employers at a national and international level’. While the FSB ‘is the UK’s largest campaigning pressure group promoting and protecting the interests of the self-employed and owners of small firms’ with, according to its website,  200,000 members.

When it comes to online presence, why are these institutions so behind, if indeed they are? It may be because the risk to online reputation is more prevalent in certain industries. Certainly, from my own experience, I have seen the travel and entertainment sectors hit hardest. These businesses are perhaps more reliant on online reviews and customers comments than others.

But as people and businesses become more and more engaged in social media as a means of communication, it is vital for companies to maintain a consistent dialogue with customers over the web. The need for ‘social listening’ will only grow and become essential for all industries.

Companies are starting to realise that online reputation is an important asset. The Reputation Report found that 88% of respondents believed having a positive web presence is important to the people who use their services.

So how do you build an effective company reputation online?

Make the most of your resources

  • select the keywords and phrases you would like your business to rank for online carefully and make sure you include them in the articles you publish
  • use your social media networks to keep your customers informed of any new products, offers and services, and respond to any customer enquiries you receive via social media receive promptly

Monitor sentiment online

  • track what customers, potential customers, journalists, competitors and others are saying about you online
  • pay attention to what is being said on social media networks and industry forums
  • a good way to do this is by setting up Google Alerts for particular mentions

Establish a social media response strategy

  • recommend your customers to come directly to you with any issues rather than setting up an independent online community
  • rather than trying to remove negative comments from the Internet try resolving the problem and give your customers reasons to post something positive instead

Executive reputation management

  • encourage senior leaders in your business to promote your business through their wider networks
  • make the most of ‘industry leaders’ if you’re lucky to have any in your team

Employer branding

  • be aware of what your staff are posting online
  • produce social media guidelines for employees and reprimand those who post unsuitable messages

Control your page one results

  • work out a strategy to ensure your digital assets populate page one for your company’s keywords and phrases
  • good page one results means website traffic is more likely to come your way and reduces the likelihood of any unwanted material or comments from ranking

You can find more information about how to improve your online reputation by reading Igniyte’s Guide to Building A Company Reputation Online. Download a copy of the free ebook here. Alternatively contact me directly for a confidential chat.

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