What are people saying about your brand? Your products? Here is an example of why its so important to monitor your online brand:
We have search engine set up to alert us when our clients are mentioned online. We monitor for trends, positive and negative mentions, and especially for inaccurate information. In the construction industry, inaccurate information can be a safety and liability issue, not just a marketing one.
A few days ago we got a hit on one of our clients, an engineered stone manufacturer. Here’s what we found (company names have been removed, but you know how to search for the quote if you want to):
“As a kitchen and bath designer do I continue to recommend or specify man made stone counter tops to my clients? Has a manufacturer like XXXXX or XXXXX been linked to the inclusion of coal ash in their product. I wrote to XXXXX but I doubt I'll get an honest reply. I can see the manufacturers of man made stone products ducking and covering as I type.”
This type of post creates several kinds of hazards. First, by naming specific companies it impacts search engine results, especially if the story it’s linked to becomes popular.
Second, it attacks the companies named on two fronts, implying the presence of harmful materials as well as poor customer service. Either of these attacks could be damaging individually; combining them increases the impact.
The third major issue is the forum’s anonymity. We don’t know who is behind the user name; I suspect the poster is a shill for a competing company or industry. Reading through the comments, only one other poster mentioned counter tops – as part of a larger list of products – and no one else mentioned “man made stone products” at all. The fact that this post specifies material, product, and company – and does so vehemently – makes it suspect.
An anonymous, inaccurate “whisper campaign” such as this can be incredibly detrimental to a company, especially since people tend to base purchasing decisions on word-of-mouth and online reviews. If a story becomes popular, millions of people could be exposed to the comment, tainting their opinions, and you would never know it was happening. We only found this one because we had set the alert.
We cannot prevent postings like this, but it does give us and our clients the chance to respond immediately.