Though many of us use it as if it’s an extension of our own body, digital – our mobile devices, notebooks, tablets, and all that they entail – persistently dogs the best of our pals in the corporate world. Anathema to them are the lack of message control and the organic, viral growth of one little, seemingly innocent meme.
“How can we control it?!?!”
Well, put simply you can’t. What you can do is establish and manage the mechanisms to get your brand’s message on top, and endeavor to keep it there. It takes a bit of effort, a strategy, some coordination and a carefully considered messaging cascade to be distributed when triggered. Sound familiar?
It’s a communications plan, silly. In today’s world, however, we call it a Corporate Reputation Management strategy. And it’s a hot ticket.
The objectives are simple. Minimize your brand’s risk from external negativity by increasing the positive content and sentiment that consumers find when they look for you. The content that they find when they search, just below your company’s paid spot on Google, is called earned media. And it’s important.
Why is earned so important, you say?
Trust. Your customers, though it may be hard to believe, are growing savvier by the minute. Paid and owned have been discredited with the growth of social, which plays a huge role in earned media. Brand reputations are now formed with their earned media footprint because the content – the sharing of information between “friends” – is transparent and highly credible.
Think about booking a trip. You get the airfare deal of the century, round trip exit row seats to Winnemucca for you and your gal. Then you start looking around for hotels. There is a screaming deal on Priceline, but your trusted pals at TripAdvisor have claimed that it’s a rat-infested stinkhole on the outskirts of town, using words like worst, never and ugh.
On the other hand, for 10 dollars more a night you find a gleaming, consistently positively reviewed room with a view right in the heart of the action. Which to choose, pray tell?
The fact is that the sentiment found via earned media can influence the hell out of sales, and coordinating your brand’s activity across digital media channels (paid, owned and earned) is a highly recommended strategy that can leverage the brand power of a whole world of potential evangelists.
In addition to crowding out adverse content, the media monitoring inherent to this process gives your brand access to an extremely large focus group. This grants you insight on brand and product perceptions, as well as early warnings on issues that may arise, industry trend monitoring and a proactive channel through which to reach and influence your customers directly.
I know what you’re saying. This sounds so good, we should do it. So, how do I get one?
I believe in doing what you’re good at. Lean and mean. I feel that a company that creates really great widgets and sells them may not need a Facebook department.
But they might need a vendor.