The online reputation has come to dominate boardroom conversations about large corporate entities, so why shouldn’t smaller businesses start concerning themselves with these issues? The general reason people give is that they simply cannot afford to spend money on online distractions. However, the truth is that they cannot afford not to–the Internet these days is a very important source of information for prospective consumers.
The Small Company Effect
Small companies tend to think that all they can do is their best and hope that customers will reflect that kindness back upon them. However, this is optimistic at best and naive at worst. There are many misanthropes out there who make use of the Internet to damage other people and company’s reputations just because they can. While it takes years to build up a great reputation, it can take minutes to destroy one online.
Even if someone is not actively trying to destroy a company’s reputation, often negative online chatter will show up in the top search results or on social networks just in time to cost you significant amounts of money. Negative comments about a company on a review website, on random forums, in the blogosphere, or on social networks has a way of biting back at the company. It is for this reason that companies should pay attention to what is being said about them online.
Not Good Enough
Doing occasional market research or online surveys simply is not good enough more. While it once sufficed, it is now a negligent way to handle media monitoring, especially the online component. Feedback forms and emailed complaints or compliments just can’t do it anymore. You have to be more proactive, and for the most part that means working with some experts.
Overtone: Offering the Solution
Overtone is a company that helps other firms to monitor the online discussion about them, their products, services, etc. If you want real-time intelligence on what customers are saying about your business and your industry in general, then Overtone is a company that absolutely can help.
The Product: OpenMic
OpenMic is a product that Overtone bills as a “Customer listening system” and that seems to be pretty accurate. It is all about haring the voice of the customer online and taking heed of what they are saying in order to improve upon your company’s existing infrastructure, products, customer service, etc. Keyword based online media monitoring is certainly more helpful than nothing at all, but it doesn’t do the job anymore in an age when the Internet is so expansive. This is more than buzz monitoring–OpenMic actually deciphers the intent of the messages and analyzes them.
This is the website of both Overtone and OpenMic.
Whenever possible, I like to include a link to the company or product’s crunchbase profile. So here you go:
This is a video, actually, a demo of the advanced sentiment analysis.
Lastly, this is a news article from DigiDaily about Overtone’s entry into the “customer listening” market.
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The Importance of Links
The importance of a link is often under appreciated. Online reputation management consultants and specialists often understand it, but few others do. This is particularly true of the businessman, who is so often savvy when it comes to their industry but uninformed when it comes to social media or online stirrings. With that said, many people are now starting to understand how incredibly improtant the Internet in general is to the real world. What the Internet says about you, your company, your product, or your service might as well be the truth–because that is how people many are going to receive the information, as the undisputed truth.
Harnessing Social Media
Even more specifically, people have begun to understand and harness social media. The Internet is essentially the largest network in the world and it allows for semi-anonymous (or completely anonymous) mass communication. Companies, public institutions, and individuals must learn to confront the issues that go along with this.
Engaging in the Conversation
E-reputation audits are an essential part of knowing where you or your company stand online. This is often called online reputation monitoring, too. Whatever it is called, it must consist of watching the social media, including twitter, facebook, and the blogosphere, for mention of the keywords. Understanding the criticisms, praise, and lack of knowledge of your product or service by potential customers online is the key to being more successful. To do this, online reputation monitoring must be used.
Linkfluence: A Solution to An Online Issue
One of the most exciting platforms for social media monitoring and engagement right now is Linkfluence. The company uses innovative tools and methods to help clients analyze and engage with customers online. Defining an online strategy is made much simpler through Linkfluence’s work. This means companies that use Linkfluence are able to optimize costs and manage their online strategy in real time. As the online conversation changes, so does the company’s reaction to it.
Linkfluence is a young company–a french start-up that is composed of two distinct departments. The studies department looks into the deliverable products that are needed, with the engineering and design department developing the tools that are necessary for that success.
While the company was started in France and is still based there, they have offices in Paris, France, and Mannheim, Germany. The company has spearheaded projects in France, Germany, the U.K., the United States, Spain, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, Brazil, Poland, and Switzerland. The various products and platforms they have to offer are impressive. From political observatories that monitor and analyze what is occurring in various fields, to E-Reputation and Impact, which measure web notoriety and Return on Investment, respectively.
Linkfluence is a platform that is providing innovative products to complicated problems online. Perhaps the most interesting thing they’ve done thus far is Netnography, which is the mapping of online inter-connectivity.
This is a really good example of their Netnography work–a Eurosphere. A map of the interconnectivity (or lack thereof) of Europe’s online activity.
This is a profile of the company by the Franco-American Quill:
I’d be remiss if I didn’t link the site itself, of course. Take a look at the “Products” section.
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Don’t Deny It
Reputations are incredibly important–very few people would really deny that. Assuming prices and products/services are roughly similar or assuming you have no concrete knowledge of those pieces of information, it is a reputation that convinces a consumer to use one business over another. The Internet is having a major effect on real world reputations, too. The Internet has become a major source of information–online reputations have taken on a new importance. For better or for worse, social media has played a big role in the shaping of online reputations.
Social Media’s Shaping of Online Reputations
Social media is no longer just interactions between individuals, if ever it really was. Social media is, more and more these days, being used for commercial purposes. This means it has significant repercussions on the reputations of businesses, brands, products, and individuals. Not always in a positive way, unfortunately. See Rebecca Black, the young girl who put out a studio-recorded song called “Friday” a couple of months ago. It quickly went viral on the blogs and in social media, but not because it was beloved–it was shared so much because people thought it was so bad. This will have an irreparable effect on her reputation, at least as a singer.
Using Tools To Help
Of course, not every situation is like Rebecca Black. Often, the damage is temporary rather than permanent. Similarly, sometimes the trouble can be avoided altogether with some online reputation management. There are a wide variety of tools that can help to monitor online reputations and viral campaigns. One of the most interesting tools I’ve stumbled across recently is BackType.
BackType and It’s History
BackType was founded by Michael Montano and Christopher Golda in 2008 as a social media analytics firm. Essentially the idea for the firm, then and now, was to help companies and brands understand how important social media can be for their business. HubSpot, The New York Times, and Hunch all look to BackType for these services.
BackTweets is a tool that BackType developed and it is very useful in regards to Twitter specifically. What it does is help companies and individuals to understand their influence on Twitter. Their website claims that they have analyzed over 50 billion tweets from 200 million users, including 10 billion links. The firm recently received over $1 million in angel investing and then was purchased by Twitter, with the staff moving into the Twitter offices to work.
The Services and Future
The services that BackTweets offers is pretty amazing–it offers some very in-depth analysis of particular keywords, campaigns, or brands. This analysis is complete with numbers on use of the terms and graphs to display the information involved. Look for this information to pop up in some innovative and creative way on Twitter soon–there is a reason they purchased it.
This is the BackType Blog, which is very illustrative of what they do:
TechCrunch, which we all know and love, profiled BackType after it was acquired by Twitter:
Not many technology companies give this many details on their programs and coding, but BackType does:
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