4 Steps for True Online
In March 2006, Chevrolet ran a social media promo- tion where consumers could create their own ads for the new Tahoe. Anti-SUV activists took up the call, creating ads that portrayed the Tahoe as a gas-guzzling
monstrosity that caused global warming and destroyed
the environment. These negative ads became popular and
quickly made the rounds on You Tube.
Instead of pulling these negative ads, Chevy openly
acknowledged them on the company’s blog, dealing with
the issues brought up in the ads and highlighting the new
Tahoe’s good qualities, such as the fact that it gets 22
miles-per-gallon (MPG), can run on ethanol, and has a
high safety rating.
By keeping the dialog open and addressing these legitimate concerns people had with their product, Chevy was
able to turn a potential negative into a positive. Online
reputation management means addressing consumers’
concerns and showing them how your company is striving
to make things better. Here’s how to implement an online
reputation strategy at your company.
What’s the Buzz on Your Company, Product
Before you can turn negative press into positive spin,
you need to know what is being said about your company
and its products and services. Fortunately, this is easier
than ever thanks to the same media that people are using
to complain about corporations. A Twitter tool called
Summize lets you search Twitter for what people are talking about, including your company, products or services,
while another app called Monitter offers a live streaming
view of what Twitter users are saying about your company
in real time.
In addition, Google recently announced that it would
begin indexing Twitter posts, or tweets. This should make
it really simple for companies to track what is being said
about them in the social media space.
Get Involved With
You can also create your
own corporate blog where
people can leave comments. Not only is this a
great way to build goodwill
with your customers, it also allows you to respond to negative comments before they spread across the Internet.
Let your customers interact with your company or
brand. Give customers a forum where they can ask questions, share successes, lodge complaints, give compliments and interact with other customers. Cable provider
Comcast, itself the subject of a social media-based smear
campaign when an unhappy customer made a video of a
Comcast technician sleeping on his couch and posted it
on You Tube, has a Twitter page for its customer service
department that offers assistance to frustrated Comcast
users ( www.twitter.com/comcastcares).
Encourage Brand Evangelism
People will line up to complain more often than
congratulate, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love sharing positive experiences. They just need a little more
encouragement. Create brand evangelists by giving them
incentives to spread the good news about your brand. Give
them free samples or special discount coupons if they tell
three friends about your product or service. Hold a contest
for the most creative video commercial featuring your
Fight Bad Press With Good Press
If your company is under attack, ignoring the complaints and burying them in PR fluff is probably the worst
thing you can do. Instead, try to turn a negative into a
positive, like Chevy did with their Tahoe ads.
Highlight the good things your product brings to the
table. Or acknowledge any shortcomings and solicit feedback on how to make things better. Develop a strategy
for addressing the concerns of your customers, and make
sure everyone — from your salespeople to your customer
service department — knows how to communicate this
strategy to your customers. Create a dedicated page on
your Web site or blog that deals with this issue and highlights the specific steps your company is taking to fix the
problem or show the benefits your product provides.
Companies don’t have to be afraid of what consumers
might be saying about them online. By being proactive
and knowing what is being said, getting active in social
media, encouraging brand evangelism, and letting customers know the good they do, corporations can turn negative
press into positive feelings for their product or brand. ■