Take Control of Your Brand ... Dot Com

The Obama administration's wildly successful Internet fund-raising campaign leveraged the power of the Web to its greatest potential. As easily as a brand can be elevated through the multiple nodes of viral marketing available via the Internet, images can just as quickly be destroyed, as recent examples such as Apple's unfortunate $4B email rumor and Domino's YouTube nightmare show.

As a business today, it is crucial for you to capitalize on the burgeoning pool of opportunities the Internet continues to offer, while ensuring that your brand's online perception remains both accurate and favorable.

Tracking your name and brand

Daily monitoring and reaction should be part of your marketing and customer service operations. A spike in Web traffic could be the result of an article or blog post that has surfaced online, and you should be aware of such coverage to rectify a negative situation or capitalize on a positive one. The longer something negative remains online, the more likely it is to spread and become archived.



To manage online content internally, you can design an RSS-based platform that monitors and reports Web site visitors and the site they jumped from, allowing you to identify the source of the spike and making it easy to react accordingly. However, if the means to create an internal monitoring dashboard are not available, online tools help to automate monitoring and measure your brand penetration on the Web. Many are free. An RSS reader can create feeds and collect results using Google Alerts, Yahoo Alerts, etc.

  •   Google News (for mainstream news)
  • Technorati (for social media)
  • (to monitor across the social media universe)
  • (for topical issues that appear on multiple blogs)
  • (for forums)
  • (all other sites, including competitors)

Paid services are available, including Radian 6 and Buzz Logic. For a comprehensive assessment of your Website's online traffic versus competitors, refer to traffic monitoring sites such as Google Website Trends, Quantcast or Alexa.

Addressing the advocates and the naysayers

Monitoring is important, but equally essential to your company's reputation is responding to online conversations, both positive and negative. Assign a staff member to spend an hour a day replying to online feeds transparently under the identity of your brand. People are more likely to engage with a brand in the future if they see the company values their patronage and appreciates their feedback.

In the event of an unflattering or false review or blog post, first contact the poster directly. Nullify the problem at its source and turn that person into an advocate instead of an adversary. This will usually result in a retraction or an apology. Be sure to take full responsibility if the information posted was due to an error on your company's part and offer a solution or incentive, i.e., a discount or gift.

If contacting the poster is not effective, comment directly and identify yourself as a company representative. Start by thanking the poster for bringing the issue to your attention, then explain the situation and leave contact information for further clarification. This will show readers that your company is handling the problem directly, and will illustrate your attention to consumer satisfaction while increasing your brand's image.

Collecting your dividends

Your Web site will most likely appear as the first result when your company name is the search term. However, the site that appears next may not be one that you would want consumers to visit. Improve page rankings generated in a search by linking to articles and popular blogs that speak favorably about your brand, as many of these sites will back-link to you. Exposure through news Web sites or other popular links rank high because their domains generally carry authority. Always link to positive publicity your brand may have garnered.

Brands control reputations to a greater degree than ever before, but we must do so ethically to preserve the integrity of the Internet as a trusted source of information. Delivering quality products and services should remain the primary ingredient to maintaining a positive online image, leveraging the Web to ensure that our well-earned, positive reputations remain intact!

Editor's note: If you'd like to contribute to this newsletter, see our editorial guidelines first and then contact Nina Lentini.

1 comment about "Take Control of Your Brand ... Dot Com ".
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  1. Melinda Scruggs gales from The Gales Network, June 17, 2009 at 9:40 a.m.

    Well said. We touched on some of these points in our Big Ideas Report over the last two months.

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