Reputation Management is not the same as Social Media

Posted on March 25, 2011 by

dogThese two categories are often times confused. Let’s clear things up a bit.

At a recent conference, the subject of Reputation Management’s association with Social Media came up from several dealers who had these two subjects confused or thought that perhaps they were one in the same. After a brief discussion, they realized that there are significant differences and, while they dovetail nicely with one another, there is an order of importance on which comes first.

Before we talk about that however, let’s back up a bit…to say, 30 years ago. Two people are talking on the phone (land line, and maybe even a rotary at that), and one friend says to the other, “I had dinner last night at Joe’s Steakhouse on Main and it was bad. Don’t waste your time.” To which his friend replies “Okay, we’re going out tonight and I’ll make sure we go elsewhere.” End of conversation.

The content of this scintillating dialog represents that: 1) reputation of the business being discussed in the form of an opinion (Reputation Management/instance) and 2) social exchange (Social Media/). Now fast forward to today…the same two people have this conversation a bit differently. The first person goes onto the internet and does a review of the restaurant (Reputation Management/instance) and probably posts something on Facebook or Twitter(Social Media/event).

The same two things as thirty years ago occurred, but today it happens much more quickly and with greater impact, and the information is put into the hands of possibly hundreds of friends—not just one as in our first example. And who knows how many other friends of those friends see the review, or Facebook post too!

So what do we learn when we make the comparison of old to now? First, in the past the restaurant isn’t impacted by one poor experience nearly as much as today, and certainly not as quickly. Second, the sheer number of people that this combination of Reputation Management and Social Media reach today has no comparison, in even the recent past. The speed and depth of the digital world far outstrips a few phone calls to the neighbors.

Takeaways

What we should learn from this example is that as dealers and businesses, we need to be 100% aware of what Reputation Management is and where exactly it takes place. Reputation is effected everywhere, all the time, each and every time an interaction occurs with a customer or a potential customer. So how does this play into or work with Social Media? Right now, a lot of dealers and businesses have it backwards: They are too worried about getting a post up on a blog or on their Facebook wall to appear like they “get it” that they have lost sight that the best and most natural form of social media is good discussion about your reputation; a recommendation based on great service or value. Peer to peer; not additional conversation in social because of something you posted on a social platform like Facebook. That’s just chit-chat to draw attention to your business.

And, while there is certainly nothing wrong with that, it should not be mistaken for Reputation Management. Chit-chat does not influence buyers at the same level that a solid discussion from consumers about your business does or a recommendation of your business in a public forum. Now, don’t stop engaging your customers on Facebook. Don’t stop blogging about fun stuff to show the human side of your business, but don’t confuse this with the heavy lifting that has to get done when it comes to Reputation Management. That must be elicited from customers by asking and re asking on a regular basis. And never lose sight that your great reputation always starts with excellent customer service during each and every transaction. Without this attitude, Reputation Management will be more like Crisis Management.

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