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Managing the Buzz of an Interactive World

buzz_revised.jpgWith the introduction and widespread use of social media online, the digital landscape has changed from a one-way content stream (companies create and deliver content to users), to a two-way content stream (companies and consumers both create and deliver content). This two-way content stream has been good for companies; the more users engage with a company's marketing materials, the more connected they feel toward the company's brand. At the same time however, social media has opened companies to negative and potentially brand-damaging user interactions.

As more people user social media, and more companies incorporate social media tools into their sites, users have more ways to communicate their views with corporate entities, and corporations have less control over the messages going out with their names attached. If users decide that they are unhappy with a company's actions, they can use the company's own website and communications channels to express their dismay over the situation.

Once angry comments, or "buzz," start popping up on blogs or in user forums, companies no longer control their overall image and reputations can suffer. Rob Key, CEO of Converseon sums it up, "You no longer own your brand. Your brand is a conversation." Once conversations about your company turn negative, your hard-earned reputation can be sullied, and your company's earnings can even suffer.

Because user-participation online is not going away, companies need strategies to manage their online reputations without stifling the voices of their customers. It's clear that people want to participate in their online experiences, and by turning off the comment functionality on blogs, or disallowing user-generated content on websites, companies will only push their users further away and erode their reputation and their customer base.

To help companies keep abreast of the online "buzz" being generated in their name, companies can use "buzz monitoring" tools that track names, products and brands all over the web. In addition to the paid services that exist, companies can start tracking their online reputation with any of these 26 free buzz tracking tools. While you may not be able to control the conversations taking place about your company, you can monitor what people are saying, respond to negative posts, and reach out to people to limit the damage.

Learn more about how to monitor your company's reputation with the Free Online Reputation Management Beginner's Guide by Andy Beal of Marketing Pilgrim. Even though the guide was originally published in 2006, the tips and tools offered by Beal are relevant to everything that's going on today and deal with how to manage negative consumer generated media (CGM) before it ruins your corporate reputation. You can also learn more on The Forrester Blog for Interactive Marketing Professionals post by Peter Kim, Three Key Applications for Brand Monitoring.

Comments

Hi Barry, thanks for mentioning my beginner's guide. Readers might also be interested in my new book on the subject; Radically Transparent.

Click my name above for more details.

Cheers!

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