sábado, febrero 07, 2009

Online Reputation: A new breed of opinion leaders

Safeguarding a company or brand's reputation is no longer just a case of communicating a series of messages to a reduced group of opinion leaders in the media. When something goes wrong, in minutes the information can appear on a blog, in a comment in a social network, or in an online forum, and, once the damage has been done, it is difficult to fix.

One popular anecdote relating to online reputation management in Spain is about a well known furniture chain. A straightforward search on the Spanish version of Google brings up a series of links, the first two of which are from the corporate site. Number three, however, is a link to an entry from a well known technology blog, relating specifically to this company, titled "How they lie to their clients". In spite of being aware of this situation for over a year, the company in question has not managed to remedy it.

This illustrates the democratising power of internet but also the risks that that power brings. Safeguarding a company or brand's reputation is no longer just a case of communicating a series of messages to a reduced group of opinion leaders in the media. When something goes wrong, in minutes the information can appear on a blog, in a comment in a social network, or in an online forum, and, once the damage has been done, it is difficult to fix.

However, with sufficient anticipation, there are a number of strategies that can be adopted in order to ensure that the inevitable views of disenchanted customers or stakeholders are balanced with the company's messages, thus mitigating the long term effects on reputation.

The most important task is for businesses to themselves participate in the online conversation. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there and attempting to influence all of them is impractical. However, most bloggers base their information on each other's opinions so it is much easier to identify the smaller number of 'online advocates' who are capable of influencing the rest.

Secondly, companies should be alert to the kind of stories that may have repercussions online and ensure that their official line is already out there. While many bloggers are amateurs, the more influential are to an extent “professionals” who want to have the truth at their disposal in order to maintain their own reputation. The key is to discover the tools they use to get informed: Social Networks, RSS feeds, news aggregators, etc. and find ways of ensuring that they are never more than a couple of clicks away from our client's viewpoint.

Finally, the limitations facing bloggers in terms of time and resources are an opportunity. If we provide specific bloggers who have already demonstrated their interest in issues relevant to a client with regular first hand industry information, it should not be too difficult to build loyalty and for them to one day come to us asking us for information. However, bloggers do not generally like to be approached by companies trying to 'use' them in order to get free plugs for their service and products. This is where the PR consultancy comes in. In the same way that we have worked for so long in building our relationships and contacts in offline media, good PR consultants are now establishing themselves as the correct path to influencing 'online advocates'. We have been qualifying for this role by being there ourselves, blogging, participating in social networks, and above all, providing something positive to the overall online debate.

Original post in Trimedia blog

domingo, febrero 01, 2009

¿Qué esperar del Gobierno 2.0 de Obama?


El Washington Post nos ofrece un interesante artículo sobre el uso que Obama hará de las nuevas tecnologías en su papel de Presidente de Estados Unidos. Los principales objetivos en esta materia son: la comunicación, la transparencia, y la participación:

Comunicación


Las herramientas sociales fueron claves durante la campaña de Obama, tal y como señalé en un anterior post.YouTube llegó a sustituir a la radio como medio para alcanzar a millones de ciudadanos nacionales y globales con los mensajes principales de Obama. Ahora, como Presidente, lo seguirá utilizando para transmitir cercanía con sus audiencias y para no perder esa capacidad de estar 'conectado' con las preocupaciones de los votantes.

El portal, Whitehouse.gov servirá como uno de los principales canales de comunicación con los ciudadanos, e incluye una sala de 'briefings' virtual donde los usuarios podrán descargar los principales mensajes de su Presidencia, en formato de vídeo o de 'slideshow'. Lo que no podía faltar, el portal también incluye un blog, aunque eso sí, sin comentarios de los lectores.

Twitter será una de las herramientas clave. Por cierto, esta herramienta para el microblogging, y otras parecidas tendrán un papel fundamental para la comunicación en general en los próximos años, incluso en España en el que sigue siendo un terreno demasiado 'friki' para la mayoría de los mortales. Hernán Pablo Nadal nos ofrece unas claves sobre cómo nos puede servir. Para que tengamos una idea del peso de Twitter, Obama ya tiene más de 168.000 fans, aunque sigue siendo mucho menos de los 4 millones con los que cuenta en Facebook.

Transparencia


El esfuerzo de Obama por mantener una administración 'abierta' a los ciudadanos no se limita a su empeño por permitir que le sigan llegando los e-mails a su Blackberry. Como Presidente electo, Obama publicó el minutado de sus reuniones privadas durante el periodo de transición y licenció la página Change.gov para su difusión mediante una licencia de Creative Commons. Podemos esperar que mantenga esta filosofía como Presidente, o por lo menos, en parte.

Participación


El Citizen's Briefing Book es una de las principales pruebas de que Obama busca que su administración sea auténticamente 2.0. Con esta iniciativa ha permitido que sean los propios ciudadanos los que propongan los temas que deben ser prioridad para el Presidente. Además, ha demostrado una clara voluntad de incorporar tecnologías participativas de algunas de las principales empresas de Internet: Google, Facebook, Salesforce.com y blist.