Ages ago (pre-Internet critical mass, sometime in the 1990s), if a customer had a complaint about a company or service, they called the company and complained. If they were lucky, they were apologized to and given a coupon to save the next time they bought. If they didn’t get the answer they wanted, maybe the customer would call the BBB.
Today, if a customer complains, the first place they normally turn is the Internet. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, blog posts and comments make it easy for a customer to vent their frustrations and share their experiences with the world. With the explosive growth of user generated content (UGC), companies must use a variety of tools to monitor their brand and keep their online reputation clean. For this example, let’s look at the online backup service, SugarSync.
Find New Content
Google Alerts is the easiest way to start monitoring online content for a brand name or other term. Simply enter the search query (the brand name, SugarSync), what you’d like to search through (everything, or just news, blogs, video, discussions or books), how often you’d like to search (instantly, daily or weekly), how many results you’d like (only the best or everything) and what E-mail address to deliver the results to. Once this is set up, if someone publishes a blog post that includes your search term, you’ll receive an E-mail.
For example, when this SugarSync review was published, an E-mail would be generated, notifying you of the new post. What the newly published content says will influence what you do next: respond to the complaint, thank the publisher for the compliment and their business, or monitor the page for future changes.
Watch For Changes
There are free services such as ChangeDetect and ChangeDetection.com which will tell you when content on a webpage changes. This is the most basic way to watch for comments that are added to a blog post, FourSquare page, or Google Places page. If the commenting system is powered by Disqus, you can subscribe to comments via E-mail or RSS and be notified when there are new comments on the blog post.
One of the cons listed for SugarSync is absolutely non-existent customer service, and they’re showing it based on their response to the comments on this review. If customers are complaining, try to figure out what went wrong and what it’s going to take to make them happy. If customers are praising you, thank them for their patronage. No user should be ignored.
Monitoring Twitter for conversations about your brand is simple: download TweetDeck (a free tool to interact with Twitter) and set-up a column for searches of your brand name. As with blog posts and user comments, interact with your users. Learn what an @ reply is, how to DM (direct message), how to RT (retweet), what a #hashtag is, and what the limitations of Twitter are before you interact with others.
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Monitoring Facebook user feedback is just as easy as monitoring tweets and other UGC. From your company’s page, change the Wall filter to Everyone (Most Recent) and you’ll see all content from anyone talking about your company. It seems SugarSync is already doing a fine job at this.
In conclusion, the game has changed. My uncle may complain about a car rental service, and when I get to the airport and see the line of choices, I’ll remember his problem. But if you respond to the user’s feedback and do your best to correct the problem, loyal users will also praise you and boost your brand. Use these tools to monitor and react to user-generated content online.
About the author: Eric Nagel is an affiliate marketer and Internet Marketing Consultant based out of Buffalo, NY.