Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Five pillars of online reputation management: a pragmatic approach.

With people spending more and more time online and 70% of consumers trusting other people’s online opinion (Nielsen 2009), the social web is definitely an interesting playground for reputation building and management. Here are five pillars for a pragmatic approach to online reputation management:

1. Mix hard and soft management.
On one side, organizational communication consists of lots of micro-stories told by stakeholders, therefore communication management should shift from a logic of command to coordination. In this peripheral model, an organization trains people to participate to conversations in the social media and the PR function acquires a leadership role. On the other side, the traditional rationality is always valid: planning, efficient resource management and measurement with hard metrics remain important tasks.

2. Listen.
First of all: people talk about brands and organizations online. Organizations can listen to them, try to answer and put into practice the insights they get. Conversation monitoring must be done analyzing content with a mix of software tools and the human sensitiveness of people who hang around the web and know its dynamics. Finally, also online conversations are mediated: organizations must know who the key influencer for their areas are.

3. Participate in all channels.
Both owned and non-controllable channels are relevant. Organizations must participate in all channels being transparent about the identity of their online spokespersons and ambassadors. However, the best case is to try to convey conversations on the owned channels, transforming them into online stakeholder relationships centers.

4. Engage your stakeholders.
Many stakeholders are not satisfied with being a mere communication target: they want to be involved, to become ambassadors, to contribute to organizational change. The web allows managing extremely effective engagement projects, such as those based on crowdsourcing. With the typical online interactivity you can make information readily available and in a more appealing shape, you can build gaming environments and you can leverage social influence and word of mouth.

5. Measure.
Organizations should keep an eye on awareness and preference. A more holistic measurement is the assessment of relationships. Finally, they should measure the level of engagement, actions and advocacy.

By Marcello Coppa
Managing partner, Anteprima LAB, Italy
Global Affiliate, The Center for Global Public Relations


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