It’s Not about Doom and Gloom
I was recently attending a conference where I was scheduled to speak. I got to the conference about an hour or so early. (I am directionally challenged so I leave plenty of time for me to get lost once or twice.) Since I was so early I looked over the speaker list and saw there was a person speaking before me about online monitoring. If you are not familiar with this term, very simply put, a business or organization monitors what is being discussed online about their company, products, brand, etc. They track what kind of “conversations” are taking place online relevant to their business through text, audio and/or video. It’s something that my team and company have been doing a lot for our clients recently so I was interested to hear what this person had to say.
I watched in horror as this speaker proceeded to literally scare the living hell out of these attendants going through absolutely nightmarish scenarios of what could happen to their companies if they did not start monitoring these online conversations immediately. I was really wondering if this type of mortal death scenario really worked as a sales pitch for this speaker? And more importantly, I was wondering what was the worst thing that could happen to me if I stood up and smacked this guy in the back of the head with the fire extinguisher hanging on the wall behind him?
When this guy finally finished his 45 minute what I have aptly named “Holocaust” speech, he asked for questions and you know what, not one single person raised their hand. Why? Because this speaker who I have nicknamed Adolf did absolutely nothing for these people. These attendees paid money to come and hopefully learn something and all that Adolf did was scare them to death and overwhelm them on a subject they were already confused about in the first place.
What I have learned recently with a lot of the work we have done is that online monitoring and reputation management is absolutely important, but not for the reasons Adolf was proposing. The value online monitoring delivers is that companies have the ability to truly listen to both customers and perspective customers. They get to hear first hand what their target market is thinking, both good and bad. If they listen well enough, they can learn from this feedback and once they reach a point of comfortability, they can reach out and engage with these people; integrate themselves into the conversations.
Every company will have a crisis, but these are few and far between. Yes, when something bad happens or is said, you want to know about as quickly as possible so you can act accordingly. Though more often then not, what this type of engagement allows is for good and not for bad. It allows companies to reach out to new customers, continue communicating with existing ones and most importantly, turn a regular customer into a company evangelist because the company showed them they were willing to go the extra mile.