With the recent advances in real time search brands now need to monitor their online reputation more closely than ever before. Coming from a past where the corporate website was the sole online showcase for a brand, 2009 showed us that the search engines have a definite interest in MyFaceFlicSpinTwit, with public views now appearing in the index in real time. This presents a dramatically altered landscape for brand managers and PR agencies in the way that they manage their online presence.
2009 saw a mad dash for the social media real estate and even then uptake was tentative and haphazard, with many companies taking a stand just for the sake of it, simply because of all the buzz around social media, but without actually knowing why they needed it or what the return on the time invested was going to be.
2010 will see a more organised and planned approach to a corporations online presence as keeping a tidy shop window will no longer suffice. With public views so prevalent in the search results, strategies need to be focused around proactively engaging with consumers on all levels. This sounds similar to the plan for 2009, however this time we really mean it! The entire corporation needs to become self aware on all levels. All employees need to feel how they fit into the bigger picture and how they shape the way their organisation is perceived. Has anyone ever heard of any disgruntled Google employees? Or how about Fedex? What sets these companies aside is the company ethos. They are a community and they feel that theirs is one of the best companies to be working for.
With this attitude, the company transforms the way they deal with consumers. A deep sense of pride is attained and all staff strive to deliver greater value to consumers. It shifts the perception of the customer and of the company, and it empowers staff to contribute to the community, and the greater good.
Brand management then becomes an entirely different occurring for the corporation. The expertise and specialist skills of agencies in understanding social media channels are still essential to the organisation however now they fit in with what the organisation wants to tell the public and not the other way around. Agencies will take on the role of advising internal teams on how best to undertake their communication and how to monitor their reputation in real time. The organisation is no longer “outsourcing” its voice to an agency, rather they establish a strong strategic framework in which to execute social media activities.
The advice for 2010 is for brands to engage with their consumers on all levels, because the conversations are happening, whether you are a part of them or not.