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Reputation Management via Social Media

April 15, 2009


Utilizing social media can be a great tool in not only engaging customers but to also practice reputation management. Most companies seem to be hesitant to do so based on the ‘nakedness’ and visibility they receive. The inability to come across as transparent may also be another reason in which companies shy away from the social media tools, like Twitter and Facebook, so commonly utilized by individuals.

Companies’ fears of overexposure are justified. Today, social media and other online tools such as Google determine a company’s brand perception and equity (or lack thereof). With customers being able to access social media and post comments in a matter of seconds, the viral nature of these media has potential to take a bad brand experience by a single customer and open the door for any other customer who previously felt like they were also ‘wronged’ by the company. Given exposure to other customers through viral media, this negative experience can permanently damage a company’s brand image and inflict irreversible harm in the court of public opinion. At this point, building a good reputation is critical; the London School of Economics conducted a study that found that a 2% drop in negative word of mouth boosts sales by 1%.

Enough about the importance of building a good reputation; the question is, “How does a company go about doing this?” Well, the process can be summarized in three steps: LISTEN, RESPOND, and ENGAGE.

> LISTEN: Get out there! Have a designated person within the company become the ‘voice’ of the company and take time to find out as much as you can about what others are saying about you, both good and bad.

> RESPOND: Shuffle through the clutter and understand what discussions are most relevant both short/long-term in helping build your company’s reputation. Then become an active listener, where the company becomes more personal and less institutional and allows people to open up in discussion.

> ENGAGE: Engage individuals through conversational listening (create a two-way dialogue to learn as much as possible about what your brand means to consumers and how your reputation stacks up). It’s all about relationship building

This provides a quick overview of the framework companies can use in their approach to reputation management using social media. If you are interested in this topic and would like to learn more, please visit:

Justin Gartland
Oregon MBA ‘09

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