Archive for April, 2012

Effective Reputation Damage Control

“I hate you…and now I’m going to Facebook about it.” Horrifying words, indeed. Getting positive reviews on social sites is the Holy Grail to owners and management. It means you are doing something right and someone took the time to write about it. But this happens both ways – good or bad – your brand is on display for the world to see. And you don’t control it. Your clients, customers, employees, and even passersby now speak with a voice louder than a street corner fanatic with a megaphone.

The COLLOQUY 2011 Word-of-Mouth study found that 26% of the general population agreed they were inclined to advise friends and family about bad experiences with brands and that they were “far more likely to spread a bad experience than a good one.”

With so many channels to leave reviews on: Yelp, Google Places, YellowPages, Yahoo Local and not to forget personal blogs and industry-related forums, a bad review is going to appear – somewhere. But fear not, there is an answer to what you should do in these times of battling against negative reviews and protecting your company’s reputation.

It Is Impractical To Think That You Can Please All The People All The Time

When you have a bad experience with a company you want to tell someone, anyone who will listen! It just feels good. It is self-gratifying. It’s the American way. The world must know when pickles were included on what should have been your plain hamburger! And shame on the pink-bow-sporting, teenage girl taking your order…forever shall she be banished to the depths of fast-food service hell for her blatant indiscretion!

No matter how expletive-laden your recollection is, your friends and peers listen. They pay more attention to it than they do experts and critics. Everyone has experienced this from both sides.

Your Negative Reviews Are Hurting You, Now Is The Time To Take Action

The most effective way to battle negative reviews is to take action, quickly and effectively.

  1. Responsiveness is key: It is imperative that you keep your ears and eyes open for any reviews or online comments about your brand or customer experience – no matter how tedious this sounds. Knowing what and when something is said about you will be imperative for you to respond quickly. Responding to reviews from three months ago will make you look indifferent, or even worse – incompetent. Quickly responding with fact, remedy, and compassion shows that you are aware of the situation and you make it a point to address people’s concerns.
  2. Get personal: Nobody wants to read a robotic sounding response. Make sure that the message you deliver is real and human – and in the tone of your brand. Use real people’s names from your company and be willing to be transparent. That means owning a mistake if it is yours to own.
  3. This isn’t a shouting match: Even if the review is completely outrageous based on what “really” happened, now isn’t the time to point fingers and “fight back.” Defending your brand and company doesn’t mean accusing the other person. Make sure your responses directly reflect the person’s situation and their point of view. You may not see eye to eye on what happened, but taking the high road will be way more valuable in the long term.
  4. Listen to what is being said: More often than not people will get on the bandwagon if they see one person leave a negative review about something. So listen to what is being said and look for a root cause. If everyone is giving negative reviews because of one particular receptionist, maybe it’s time to have a talk with that receptionist. Responding to reviews is step one. The next step is create a clear plan of action to address the root problem internally as well.

At the end of the day, brands are not the only ones in charge of their own destiny – customers are too.

 

Social Touchstones: How To Use Social Tools To Engage People With Your Brand [INFOGRAPHIC]

Social Touchstones Infographic

Voice demonstrates integrity of your brand. Your customers and prospects need to understand just who you are and your “relate-ability factor.” Like with any relationship, in the initial stages what we want to know is mostly “skin deep.” But as the conversation matures, so does the willingness to pass information back and forth. This content should convey the tone, mutual respect, and reciprocated perspectives to shape the tempo of the development process.

Industry demonstrates the credibility of your brand. One of the greatest share points in human history is the environment of learning – where minds are open, visions broaden, and new thoughts emerge victorious. Ideas begat ideas. When your brand is the beginning point of those exchanges, you become not only a participant of the conversation, but a leader of it. This content should be centered on editorial perspectives that elevate the dialogue.

Transaction demonstrates the immediacy of your brand. Converting a “want” to a “need” requires a devoted understanding of the relationship in which we are participating. Knowing, beforehand, what one must “see” or “hear” from the other to move to the next level of engagement. When and how to deliver the message is paramount to connecting value to information. Action based on how much a priority or premium is placed on the benefits of such a decision. This content should channel action and thought for a direct, pressing purpose.

 

Does your Facebook page carry more weight than your resume? Inquiring employers want to know…

When you apply for a job, does your Facebook page carry more weight than your resume? As the Facebook’s global reach continues to expand, and the opportunity to gain access to a person’s private information increases at a velocity faster than Spielberg’s light speed, employers are now requesting private log-in credentials for access to your page hosted by the social media giant – even when applying for a job.

This event lit up a social scathing of employers and platforms. In an attempt to distance itself from the situation, last week Facebook issued a press release revolving around the recent concerns potential employees have when interviewing with a job.

“As a user you shouldn’t be forced to share your private information and communications just to get a job,” said Erin Egan, Chef Privacy Officer, Policy at Facebook.

Sharing a Facebook password, or asking for someone else’s password, violates Facebook’s user agreement. But that violation pales in comparison to the legal responsibility of employers under federal labor laws.

Is your online life and real world reality (either business or personal) separate?

When employers begin to pry into the online life of potential, or event actual, employees, they open themselves up for claims of discrimination, harassment, and privacy violations – not to mention assuming unanticipated liability if they were to even acquire such log-in information. Employers also lack the proper policies and tools to handle that level of sensitive information. And what happens if that information becomes exposed or is requested by a third party, such as a government agency? Lawyers, I am sure, are already salivating at the thought of the NDAs, employment agreements, and confidentiality sections that will need to be re-written.

Can Big Brother really do that?

Two US senators are asking the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to investigate whether employers even have the right to acquire this information. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) are working with legislation that would make it illegal to ask for your personal information. This personal information can take the form of passwords and usernames or just requesting to view the private photos and statuses of its employees.

As our real life and social life blend together more each day, the line between what is private and what is public has become more blurred than a Martin Sheen bender. In the last several years, Facebook has created comprehensive privacy settings – sometimes to the dismay of its user base. However, even this limit of visibility to viewers still doesn’t stop potential employers from requesting the information – a practice that is not considered against the law, yet.

Does NO really mean NO?

What happens if you deny an employer access? What protections are afforded a potential employee if an employer does “friend” you on Facebook? And how would an employee know if their social media content was considered in their termination? All good questions that are left to debate. As with all high-growth industries, we will have to see just how long it takes the regulatory environment to catch-up with the ever-evolving technologies.