Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Online Reputation Management - A Middle East Perspective

The below article was published in Qatar Today, August 2011 issue, highlighting how few brands in Middle East have started thinking about online reputation management. The article highlights issues faced by brands who completely ignore the importance of monitoring their online presence. Click on the below pics to continue reading.

"Text Version"
Online Reputation Management

On 17th June 2010 @sandeepgeetla tweeted the below rumour which led to a slide in the ICICI shares by 3.5 % in the intra day trading hours, however within hours the stock price recovered due to prompt action by the bank.

@gulpanag ICICI committed 3k crore fraud in US. Sebi fined 1 billion dollar on ICICI bank as the news goes..

ICICI bank is known to monitor 3-5k tweets per day via its Twitter handler @icici_care. The bank also monitors online conversations on Facebook, Blogs and other social mediums, to help stop rumors.

The bank responded to the user on twitter as follows:-

@sandeepgeetla These r baseless rumours abt ICICI Bank, request u to not pay heed to them & also not spread them further…”

ICICI has gone ahead and filed a complaint against the person with the cyber crime cell of the police and market watchdog SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India)

This is just an example of how a false rumor could damage your brand’s reputation online.

But, how many brands in GCC monitor Social Media Conversations?

The person may have had a bad experience with your brand; however there is a possibility that he or she was never heard. However, customers have found the web to share the experience with people.

There are many groups on Facebook, where customers share their experiences with other potential bank customers, which do influence choices to an extent. Many people resort to share their personal experience about anything on the web as it is a feasible medium to voice their opinion. This makes many brands vulnerable to online abuse, as some of these opinions may be rumors, which further emphasizes the need to have online monitoring tools.

You can use some of the below listed tools which are available online for free:-
Blog Monitoring - BlogPulse – is a blog search engine with several complementary tools such as Trend Search and Conversion Tracker that analyzes the data it collects.

Twitter Monitoring - Monitter – A real-time Twitter monitor for up to three keywords at a time.

Other Tools - Google Alerts – Your keyword search results are sent via e-mail for keyword mentions in news, web, blogs, video and groups categories.

Digimond – an online competitive intelligence solution company – has forecasted that by 2013, 4 million SMEs will be using online reputation platform to monitor their brands. According to Digimond 58% of the executives believe that risk reputation should be addressed by the management, however only 15% of them monitor it.

Recently there have been similar incidences in the online world in Qatar. Many Qtel users retorted against the poor customer service of the telecom company on Twitter using the hashtag #qtelfail. Qtel instantly responded to customer complains on Twitter to address issues.

I personally witnessed a change in the customer service of Qtel when I tweeted them about my Internet issue. I was called back by a service representative to understand my issue and a technician was at my home within few hours.

Recently Arabian Business reported that Qatar Airways was facing a series of complains from customers that claim to be local nationals about its services on Twitter using hashtag #qatarairwaysfail.

What is the Impact of such online posts? One bad customer experience would cost your brand many others.

Does the brand monitor these tweets/posts? It could be competitor brand spreading the rumor.

Many organizations have Internal Communication Departments who monitor print media for news but discount online conversations. What can a brand do to minimize the impact?

- Have a communications team to monitor online conversations and tackle rumors/complaints.

- Hire a PR/Marketing agency that can monitor the web 24x7.

- Have a strong e-Marketing team that can create a positive perception of your brand online.

- A negative review/complain demands special attention. Post public responses to apologize and try to win back the customer. You can privately message the reviewer to get detailed feedback.

Negative comments about your brand can hang an albatross around your neck if they appear frequently in online searches. A positive comment about your brand by clients is traditionally the best source of new business; online forums and recently sites like twitter and facebook act as a powerful word-of-mouth. Having an online presence is a must but tackling rumors/complains is a challenge. Brands will have to bear the brunt of online conversations if they continue to ignore this medium. Online conversations will make or break customer relations in the future as more and more people seek feedback from peers on the web.


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