Do you know what your customers are saying about your brand online? You should. It doesn’t matter what your brand is or what you’re selling, chances are someone is saying something about you online. Building trust amongst your consumers, online or otherwise, is essential to have a long-lasting, successful brand.
I’ve always thought it is better to be part of the conversation rather than ignore it. But as I learned this week, it’s more important to listen to what people are saying about you. This means, not always being the conversation starter. In the PR Newswire white paper, Amplifying your social echo, learning to first listen to consumers and then speak to them is a point that can benefit any brand. Learning what people are saying about your brand or related-topics that could influence your brand, can help you engage with more consumers (hopefully leading to more conversions), help with research and things like brand development. Is there a brand that you feel would not benefit from monitoring online conversations?
Despite the rise in popularity of social media in the business world, at the healthcare organization where I work there are still people who believe healthcare and social media do not mix. I disagree. And in the last couple of years in developing our social media presence I have proven it is a fit and it does benefit our brand. In fact, this Mashable article highlights the important role social media is playing in the healthcare industry. Most significant to me is the fact that one-third of consumers are now using social media for health-related information. That number includes those broadcasting views about specific doctors, hospitals, and organizations. I’ve helped to create awareness for community events via social media, made organizational changes public via social media, and resolved many patient care issues via social media. By listening to what people are saying about us, true or false, enables us to monitor these comments and engage, if necessary. I think overall it’s helped our reputation and build trust in the communities we serve. Have you resolved a customer issue via social media that otherwise might not have been addressed?
Of course, being part of the conversation means being prepared for both the good, the bad, and the ugly. It didn’t really surprise me that only 40 percent of companies on social media feel they are prepared to deal with a social media-based threat. Many businesses create social media pages simply because “everyone is doing it” with no strategy or plan behind that decision. This can lead to an inactive page or unresponsive brand, and that is never good for building a relationship with consumers.
The bottom line is that building trust with consumers takes a lot of effort. Brands need to have a plan in place and make reputation management a priority. Those that don’t will be left in the dust. Ling Lui and Weisong Shi discuss the importance, as well as, benefits and challenges of reputation management in this article. And one key challenge they highlight is trying to take those negative experiences and using them in a positive manner. My organization has tried to do this by taking negative comments about patient care and rethinking the way some of our processes function, whether impacting one patient or thousands. We take each concern or complaint seriously. There are, of course, also people who will post malicious, untrue, or fake feedback for a variety of reasons–and no brand is exempt from this risk. But again, I feel like if you are monitoring what’s being said about you, it may be easier to assess what is true and what is false. If you’re not listening, there is no way of knowing or of controlling the conversation. What are some ways you think businesses could use social media to better measure performance? Can there ever be a direct link? Why or why not?