Archive for June, 2009
Advertising Age ran an article titled “Search Shifts Means Visibility Must be Earned, Not Paid” – does this infer that brand reputation and search engine optimization are correlated? If so, this has many ramifications.
One of which is that marketers should devote more attention to SEO rather than SEM, as the title in Advertising Age suggests. Pull demand is the force online, consumers look to the internet for information and education to help them make a more informed decision. They are unlike our forefathers who fall over to pressured advertising and hard sell. The generation today seek info and pull info towards them, they want companies to educate them not hard sell them. Hence its more of a PULL marketing at play here.
In the fast paced, interconnected world that we live in today, consumers are going to talk about your company regardless if you have entered the online space. So what you do offline campaigns, online campaigns, customer service, product quality will be talked about online. And these conversations can make or break your brand reputation. As part of SEM, one of the variable of a getting ranked higher, content needs to be refreshed and of course rich in content, conversations and (as a result interactions with other consumers) can be a very powerful variable in pushing up your brand name (be it positively or negative publicity) in Search Engines.
Consumers want to know what is the reputation of a firm (especially if its a new firm/product and they need to find a reason to trust you and develop a relationship) and what others have been saying about this particular company or product. Hey isnt that social marketing? Are you involved? Well regardless if you are involved or not, arent they still engaging in a conversation about your company? How would this affect your brand reputation and your sales figures? If your research studies shows that a fair number of your customers are online (well recent Google studies suggests that a vast majority of people are online and the number of hours spent online is increasing year on year) – so what does that suggest?
People are searching, people are also perhaps engaging in long-tail searches on your company and your product – as you know long tail searchers are people who are at the tipping point of buying or not buying your products. So having good or bad pages on the 1st or 2nd page of Google or Yahoo! may be a deal winner or breaker for you – depends how it swings.
As we move forward, I share the same as the author in Advertising Age, people are getting more involved in searching for brands and the search is getting more social – they want to read more about how others have to say about the company and the product – its no longer PUSH marketing but PULL marketing at play here. Not new I might say, in the past we have always trusted our friends more than than companies’s advertisement. But the differences here is the speed and the reachness and richess of the online medium that differs from yesteryears.
So concluding, I personally feel that your brand reputation and search engine are correlated – be it good or bad reputation – if it hits on the first or second page of search engines, it has the power to swing customers to you or to your competitors. Search Marketing is not just about generating leads, its also a strategy in itself that goes beyond selling a product.
What are your thoughts here? I’m keen to hear what you have to say.
In my earlier post Social Media Marketing went “wrong”: Case: “Langham Hotel Steps in to Calm Online Storm” (Hong Kong) I wrote about how Langham Hotel’s campaign triggered a social upheveal online.
A month has passed since the event, it has taught a lesson to all – to take note of cultural sensitivities when engaging in a campaign and that one should not have retreated without an explanation.
I’ve always said that social media is a double edged sword, it can be your best friend and it can be your worst enemy. However having said this, don’t just treat the online marketscape or social media networking to be your foe only and forget the opportunities it entails. Embrace it and treat it an an opportunity to better understand your customers, cause people are going to talk about your brand regardless.
Just yesterday, to my pleasant surprise I received an email from Langham’s director of corporate communication.
Here is snippet of the email and I quote:
The videos were wrong. You were right to tell us so, and we’re sorry.
I thought that was a very amiable step and one worth applauding. I didnt expect this email (and its sincere apology) but I believe it will go a long way.
People make mistakes but most importantly is that one realizes it and make steps to heal it. For that – you have my respect, Langham, cause you have done just that.
All the best!
Below is the YouTube interview conducted by Marketing Magazine (Hong Kong) with Langham Hotel.
Every presentation I present, every organization I meet, it is without fail the above mentioned subject pops up. Loss of Control of my Brand.
Why is this the case? We humans love to control variables (control freaks?), the idea of losing control is something incomprehensible.
Afterall, companies have spent heaps of time and effort (and money may I add) to built and position their brand to what it is today and so the idea that they may lose control of its brand is a BIG thing (and rightly so).
Well what I normally say to them, hey even if you do not enter the social media online landscape, people are already talking about you. What makes you think consumers online are not taking about you and do you know what are they talking about?
Wouldn’t it be good to retrieve first hand candid feedback and improve yourself and perhaps in the process engage in customer engagement and/or turn negative experiences to positive ones.
There are heaps of opportunities out there for you to grab. Ultimately, ask yourself this.
Are you ready to enter as an organization and also where do you customer hang out?
Well its really up to you on how you look at social media, it could be your number 1 enemy and it could be your best friend – all I can say, it offers a magnitude of opportunities for you to further engage your customers and enhance your corporate reputation.
So is social media for you? that you have to ask your self. Loss of control of brand. Well I can say YOU BET! but hey isnt better that you get it and be able to influence it then to let it generate it by itself. Be part of the action!
I’m keen to hear about what is the number one concern you have heard about companies entering the online social marketspace.
There is another one: reputational management – the ability to take care of negative comments – that’s a separate issue which deserves a separate blog episode
A very interesting reality check podcast on social media marketing.
Click here for the podcast: MIS: Social Media for Businesses – A Reality Check
(For those who are unable to sit through the 28 minute podcast)
1. Engage in conversations (interaction), the idea behind social media.
2. Use tools (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc) to better engage your customers, and these are just tools. Social Media marketing is a strategy in itself.
3. Nothing will replace a face to face meeting – not even Social Media marketing.
4. No longer to talk to them, now is I listen to you – from company to customer “what do you think of my products?”
5. Markets are getting smarter – you listen to the customers – and there is also alot of unhappy customers out there. You can get an anti-your company blog. But hey which company doesnt want to listen to those unhappy customers. On the contrary these companies give you a chance to better improve yourself.
6. Use Social Media to understand the customer and give it to them better. They use Social Media tools to listen to the conversation about the company in real time.
7. Companies should embrace the opportunities Social Media entails – think beyond the unhappy customers, on the contrary convert those unhappy ones to happy one and they will be your evangelists.
8. Listening is one thing, participating is another. Its very important to listen first and understand first and then response especially in this fast paced world we live in now.
Closing comments – Should companies get into Social Media?
- it depends on what you want to do and where your customer hang out.
- large organization cant afford to sit on the sideline, have to get in now before you get left behind especially now that a growing number of customers are spending a fair portion of their time online.
- Social Media gives you untapped opportunities and allows you to listen in to conversations about your brand and as a result allow to you understand where you stand, how you can improve and as such deliver better value.