I recently did a research paper which focused on how–if at all–organizations use digital communication tools in reputation management. The results of my study showed that online communication between organizations and their publics is in fact being used as a means of managing corporate reputation. More importantly, I found that specific tactics such as active listening and engaged responses lay the foundation for reputation management via online communication.
Let’s just talk about social media –blogs, microblogging (e.g. Twitter), social networking sites (e.g. Facebook), professional networks (e.g. LinkedIn), video sharing 9e.g. YouTube) and content driven communities (e.g. Wikipedia)– these mediums have all significantly altered the way that businesses provide services, interact with their stakeholders and manage their reputations.
Stakeholders now use social media to comment on a company’s actions in public forums. Customers Tweet to companies and expect immediate feedback, investors conduct their due diligence online and employees leave reviews about their experience at the workplace on Glassdoor.com. Recently someone posted a photograph –to Instagram and Facebook– of a store they had visited. This person was basically telling everyone on their friend list not to patronize this store because customer service was terrible. This is how your organization’s reputation can be tarnished online.
How can a business act in a situation such as the one above?
Get on social media and respond. It’s important that business owners be present on social media, not just to market their brand or product, but to listen to what is being said. Use social media to interact with your customers, answer queries, apologize for bad customer service and build strong relationships. In a 2007 study conducted by S. U. Yang, it was found that favorable organizational reputation can be obtained by quality relationship management between an organization and its strategic publics. Put simply, building strong relationships can help you to develop positive perceptions of your organization which by extension influences your overall reputation.
Here are four (4) recommendations which can be implemented if you wish to use online messaging systems to support your reputation management processes:
Strategic use of social media for communicating with customers can positively impact your organization’s reputation. Employing specific tactics such as active listening, engaged responses and internal collaboration, you can build strong relationships with customers and empower your employees to take the necessary steps to resolve issues. Remember that strong relationships with your stakeholders can have a significant positive effect on your organization’s reputation.