Following the recent appointment of new CEO, Hubert Joly, Best Buy is now beginning its turnaround and attempting to return to its former profitability.  While the retailer initiates its restructuring plan, both Best Buy and Joly remain prominently featured in news headlines, blogs and throughout social media.  Although the public response to Best Buy’s management changes has provided the brand with enhanced visibility on the Web, the company must now take measures to monitor and manage its reputation in order to maintain a positive brand image.

Some companies struggle with terms such as “complaints”, “reviews”, “scams” and “rip-offs”, however, those may not be the biggest adversary for a company with the worldwide identity that Best Buy has forged for itself as a leading retailer.  Instead, the primary focus for Best Buy’s marketing division should be terms such as “Hubert Joly” and “Best Buy CEO”.  These keywords are expected to have a high search volume and any negativity associated with them must be neutralized using reputation management techniques.

An effective strategy for Best Buy to remain reputable during this transitional phase would be the development of a customer engagement plan.  Encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive feedback and reviews on their website, blogs and on social networks will boost the brand within the SERPs and help to suppress any potential negativity.

It is essential that the company maintains a positive reputation in the months ahead and a proactive approach is necessary.  Best Buy must implement a “call-to-action” to keep its satisfied consumers while also remaining focused on gaining valuable market share online.

Do you think reputation management will be a key component of Best Buy’s restructuring efforts?  Send me your thoughts via email at brymshaw@webimax.com or follow me on Twitter: @brwebimax.

How can lip balm be controversial? Just ask Chapstick – they’ve managed to offend a lot of people with the image they chose for a new advertisement and, moreover, how they chose to deal with the backlash on their Facebook page.

Chapstick is the latest example of a brand mishandling negativity over a new advertising campaign – a prime example of how NOT to use social media when it comes to managing your reputation online.

What many companies don’t realize is that, for the most part, Americans are a forgiving group of people. We watched as Britney Spears fell from grace, but now she’s a judge on the popular television show X Factor with millions of people rooting her on. Michael Vick was involved in an illegal dog fighting ring and served time in jail for the conviction, but now he’s the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles with a strong fan-base. Chris Brown was charged with felony assault for beating his girlfriend, pop star Rihanna, but he continues to be a celebrated member of hip hop community.

What do these three people have in common? They all admitted their mistakes, apologized, asked for forgiveness, and explained to the public how they plan on changing their lives for the better. Any publicist will tell you that trying to cover up a controversial event will only make matters worse. Owning their actions and taking responsibility for their mistakes is the only way that celebrities or famous athletes can begin to repair their relationships with the American public – and that goes for brands, too, not just people.

So when Chapstick ran this ad -

- featuring a woman bent over the back of a couch looking for her lost Chapstick (we know where they were going with this ad: read Dan’s latest post about how sex sells in the marketing world), and they received criticism on their Facebook page by people who found it offensive, did they take ownership? How did they handle the backlash?

They deleted the comments. Big brand management no-no.

To make matters worse, in bold letters at the bottom of the ad it says “BE HEARD AT FACEBOOK.COM/CHAPSTICK.” Perhaps a more accurate call-to-action would’ve been “be heard – as long as it puts our brand in a positive light.”

If Chapstick wants to use social media as a place where consumers can go to give their honest feedback and “be heard,” they’ll need to be prepared to take the bad with the good. Here are my two pieces of advice for Chapstick, or any brand that is faced with a similar situation:

  1. Listen to people’s complaints, and apologize to those you have offended on your Facebook page where the public can see your response.
  2. Be prepared to handle criticisms as well as praise & approval whenever you launch a new campaign – especially if you direct readers to your Facebook page where consumer feedback is a fundamental part of social media for businesses.

What do you think about Chapstick’s decision to delete negative comments from their Facebook page? Join the conversation on Twitter using #brandchat or email me at pryan[AT]webimax.com.

Many brands struggle to gain recognition in the SERPs and throughout social media, but achieving visibility is not the only important element of Internet marketing.  A company’s reputation is crucial and managing that reputation is necessary in order to maintain a positive image both on and offline.

Discovering Reputation Concerns
Throughout both search results and social media, reputation concerns can often be easily identifiable.  Features such as suggestive search have been advantageous to business owners and online marketers in discovering potential brand reputation issues.  Keywords such as “scam”, “ripoff”, “complaints” and other similar terms may accompany a brand or individual’s name in suggested searches and these results should be identified and subsequently managed to avoid gaining a negative profile online.

Developing a Strategy
Customer complaints and negative reviews can greatly impact a company’s image and should be carefully monitored in order to design an effective reputation management campaign.  While every strategy should be customized and tailored to fit the brand, there are certain techniques that should always be utilized.  Encouraging satisfied customers to add positive reviews and feedback to social networks and other authoritative sites is a great way to fortify a strong reputation or rebuild a damaged one.

Long-Term Maintenance
Once a successful reputation management strategy is designed, it is important to maintain it.  To ensure a positive brand image remains in place online, long-term maintenance is required.  Brand and keyword research are part of the ongoing efforts involved and being proactive is also useful in preventing future reputation issues.

The importance of a strong online reputation is virtually immeasurable and is a crucial component of both Internet marketing and brand management.

For more on reputation management, see Todd Bailey’s latest video on our YouTube Channel.

 

Those, native to Philadelphia, are no strangers to professional sports teams.  Philly’s got a couple of great ones, the Flyers among them.  In attempts to exorcise their playoff opponent, the ‘Flyguys’ were eliminated this year.  True fans are disappointed but hardly turned off of the team, the brand, the Flyers.

 

 

It may not come as readily as looking at a name such as Ford or Folgers, but the Flyers are a brand, a business too.  They have consumers, just like Ford and Folgers; except in the realm of sports ‘marketing,’ consumers are called ‘fans.’

 

It’s an interesting concept.  Marketing exists for sports teams, yet the heavy lifting is done by the ‘service’ itself, the performance of players.  For only one team per year in the NHL, does the service make due on its original promise, to ‘go all the way.’  All but one teams’ mass of fans is ultimately disappointed to some degree.  But that’s okay.  There’s always next year.  The ‘fans’ are okay with that.  They’re okay with the trying even though for most, it doesn’t end in triumph.  That’s interesting.

 

Flyers fans are fans of the game.  The ‘service’ is supplied by the players.  The players have a pure love for what they do.  The players played before there was an NHL or Flyers in their personal lives.  Such purity is pretty easy to marketThe players’ abilities speak idly, just as any business’ services or products should be able to stand alone.

 

What is your business’ level of purity?  Is it comparable to that of natural-born players?  I came across a quote earlier while working on today’s previous copywriting post:

 

Anthony Pensabene

“The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can’t help it.”

 

It’s tongue-in-cheek, yes, but true.  I (literally) have a choice; yet, I kinda don’t; writing is me.  It makes a lot of sense for me.  It comes naturally.  Such a true passion makes it easy for me to market myself as a writer.  The writing (hopefully) ‘speaks’ for itself.  A product/service should be able to do so.  Such a dynamic is not putting the cart before the horse.

 

Marketing could never take the place of the ‘horse.’  You can’t market a ‘lame’ product or service; the marketing can’t create such inertia.  Sure, a business can try; yet, such images (and such campaigns) elicit some chuckles, don’t they?

 

 

Of course, it’s horrible to see your team lose.  But the players will train harder and get better; because, they have no choice.  It’s what they (truly want to) do.  Will it guarantee a Cup next year?  The odds are against them and their faithful fans.  So, why gravitate toward the business, the brand, the Flyers?  We’ll keep watching as long as the players keep doing what they love, despite the road bumps and disappointments.

 

True passion inspires faithful followersThe passion represented in a resulting service/product is really marketable within itself.  The marketing part only warrants the reception of the market.  The marketing can’t ‘play the game’ for the players; it can only illuminate the passion which was always there.

 

 

 

This post will be about branding.  Branding is good for online marketing.  It expresses passion…which is very unlike my first few lines here.  Did you find yourself doing ‘the robot’ as you were reading them?  I do that sometimes on and off the dance floor.  The latter occurs when reading generic posts.  Who’s the author?  Why can’t I extract a single, personable sentiment from these things?  It’s a small wonder (80′s television reference) anyone but robots are reading these things.

I read an awesomely refreshing post this morning on ‘why I don’t read your blog.’  It’s real and insightful.  One of the best points I gathered was not being a candidate for the crowned Mr. Roboto of blogging.  I’m not the only writer who agrees:

Brittany Klontz Brittany Klontz ‏ @Britt_Klontz

@content_muse It is definitely important to let your personality shine through! Robotic blogging makes me want to cry tears of boredom.

However, I’m not writing this post on bloggingIt’s about inserting the essence of communication (character) into your branding.  Why?  Same reason as above, businesspeople, partners, and all types of consumers enjoy personality.  It helps us makes better decisions, better aligning us with likeable and like-minded brands.

Consider the following:

Having Personality is Not Unprofessional
I like hovering outside of the ‘uber professional’ box; maybe it’s a bit too stuffy in there for my personality.  I have one.  I’m okay with that; and, I believe other professionals are as well.  Having fun with your job, smiling, and expressing personality does not make you unprofessional; it makes you an individual.  If you need to keep your brand ‘in line,’ ‘hiding’ the personality of workers and collective beliefs, then something is off.  What is your brand’s collective personality?  If you can’t accurately identify that, then maybe your brand is a bit too stuffy.  If bankers above the age of sixty-five is your market then proceed with minimalistic expression of personality (I guess).  Otherwise, it’s okay to be your brand self.

Where’s Your Team?
It’s sad to come across a company site void of worker presence.  Who’s onboard your company?  I want to know.  It just might influence my decision to engage your brand.  If you’re not showing your main players, in these times of super social marketing, I just may grow suspicious, wondering, “Well, why not!?” Owners, are you sharing your workers and their work with the rest of us?  Why not?  You hired them; so, I assume you’re proud they’re working for you.  Why hide them and their contributions?  No really- I’m actually thinking that when I don’t see them.

About Us
Many online brands don’t have storefronts.  Many brands don’t attend workshops and events.  Many brands don’t have the chance of experiencing consumers three-dimensionally and vice versa.  That’s a disadvantage for those with personality and passion.  How do you compensate?  While so much energy is devoted toward ‘ranking’ services/products so many brands pay no resources toward exposing browsers to their ‘brand.’  A brief about us page is not enough.  When was that penned?  Five years ago when the brand started?  What’s happened since then?  Update the about us page.  Why not make it into a scrolling, blog-post-like page?  Many products and services vary very little when it comes down to it.  What’s your brand’s story?  I really want to know; I have choices (like the rest of your consumers).  Telling me more about the supplied source gives me more reasons to make a decision.

This is BS
Do you think this is BS? (If you’re thinking this is great business strategy, I agree; if you’re thinking of other terms, I hope you reconsider; I’m really trying to fertilize your success.)  I predict some owners may read this, giving my words the ‘pfft-into-an-eye-roll’ sentiment.  I understand; ‘Anthony’s just ranting about his favorite topic, branding; he’s passionate about wanting me to be passionate; but, I’ll just sit back and keep doing what I’m doing’…the bare minimum of branding.  Here’s the thing.  I notice.  Others notice too.  Just like the author of the ‘why I don’t read your blog’ post above is turned off by personality-less posts, people are turned off by personality-less brands, especially in verticals where face-to-face meetings are few to none.  You may disagree with me know; but, entertain me; put forth some extra branding effort.  I think you’ll thank me later.

 

We write across subjects on this blog – Jason has written a good amount on social media recently, and Anthony on public relations and relationship building just today. So when you look across subjects one central element that runs through is the importance of engagement. Or more specifically – purposeful engagement. Whether in forming professional relationships in person or through a digital medium, connecting with customers through social media, or reaching out to past customers, one of the ever-present goals is purposeful engagement. What is meant by this is that when marketers connect with audience members, they want it to be meaningful and impactful, inspiring them and moving them to action. Marketers need this communication to hold value for the audience members and not just be token promotion or commenting.

We all know what each feels like in everyday conversations with friends, colleagues, and even traditional promotions that we are exposed to. But transitioning this to the digital landscape is a challenge. How do you meaningfully engage with 25k followers if you are a business on Twitter or with the 10k account holders who liked your business on Facebook? These are essential questions. One specific concept from PR theory that helps with the background of this strategy for purposeful engagement is the Two-Way Symmetrical vs. the Two-Way Asymmetrical Model of Public Relations from PR researcher James Grunig.

Two-Way Asymmetrical Model
In this model of public relations, marketers and PR professionals engage in two-way communication with the audiences. They send crafted messages, receive feedback, do research, but the goal is still persuasion rather that genuine communication and engagement. The slanted downward arrow represents the persuasive element in the figure for this model below.

Two-Way Symmetrical Model
In this model of public relations, PR professionals and marketers engage in dialogue with the audience and the goal is mutual understanding and purposeful communication where both parties receive benefit. Research is done here as well but rather than using it to determine how to persuade the audience, research is used to learn the direction to take the company’s genuine communication in order to better cater to audience needs and establish how to motivate them to authentic action. Notice the two straight lines.

In Action
Two-Way symmetric may seem a bit idealist or pie in the sky, but it really is not. It represents the optimal method of interaction that will win customers because they are heard and treated to communication that carries value rather than strict promotion. It represents the long-term rather than short-run mindset that businesses should be taking in relation to the interaction they have with their audience – and there has never been better time where more tools are available to put this sort of purposeful, genuine, two-way, symmetric engagement into action than now.

With social media at marketers’ finger-tips, they need to utilize their resources in SEO companies and marketing firms that offer such strategic assistance to implement a meaningful campaign. Businesses need to make a concerted effort to research their audience and know what subject matter will be of value to them. Further, engage with that in mind and most importantly listen, take feedback, and address customer concerns and questions in the social space, making all efforts to connect with as many unhappy or concerned customers as possible.

Reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen@webimax.com and @ryanwbudd for more information regarding how your company can purposefully engage with their audience.