If you do nothing else, start paying attention to who’s
saying what about your association's brand online.
By Priya Ramesh
Online sentiment is
the cumulative effect of reviews, ratings, recommendations—and in certain cases,
rants—given by your members, staff, and sometimes just a casual passerby on the
internet. As Alex Wright from The New York Times
rightly describes it, "for many businesses, online opinion has turned into a
kind of virtual currency that can make or break a product in the
The blog posts,
tweets, and Facebook updates shared about a particular association brand act as
bricks and mortar for your organization’s online reputation and also affect
your SEO rankings to a large extent. Have you asked yourself the following
- How does our association
- What are people saying about
our association’s brand(s), media products, events, or services online?
- What is the overall online
sentiment about our association? (Positive, neutral or negative.)
- How do we stack up against our
competition (nonprofit or for-profit) in terms of online sentiment?
- What is the most dominant
online perception our members and targeted potential members have about
If you don’t have
answers to the questions above, here are three simple steps to start managing
your online reputation.
1. Monitor by setting up social alerts. This may sound basic, but it is
surprising at how many communication professionals still haven’t taken the time
to set up Google news and blog alerts for their own association, its media and
other products, as well as the competition. You can also set up tweet alerts
using Tweet Beep.
Monitoring and listening how you are being referenced online is the first step
in online reputation management.
good return on your marketing investment is to conduct a quarterly online reputation audit. Social
media engagement without listening in and feeling the pulse of your community
online is like shooting in the dark. So take half an hour to set up your basic
alerts and start listening.
2. Analyze your social reviews. This is a natural progression from the
first step of monitoring. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and
threats) analysis format works well for online reputation management. It is a
good practice to regroup every quarter and analyze recurring themes, identify
major concerns being expressed online, and pinpoint key contributors to
good recommendation is to take the feedback from the daily monitoring and
present it to your association’s communications team. For example, if you find
that members are tweeting about how difficult it is to navigate through your association’s
website or to complete their purchases of your association’s training products,
that is information that needs to be shared and acted on immediately. Organizations
that take their monitoring to the analysis stage benefit by delivering what
their members want versus what the association thinks they want.
3. Engage based on online sentiment. Now that you understand where your association
stands in the eyes of the online user, start engaging with the blogger or the member
that complained about your association on Twitter. A simple comment saying, "Thank
you for your feedback. We are working on resolving this issue,” can do
wonders in terms of transforming a negative sentiment to at least a neutral
course, comments need to be followed by action. A "listen and comment strategy”
(in addition to more strategic social media engagement efforts) can improve
your association’s image online. By diligently commenting back on blogs posts
and responding to tweets, you should see an increase in mentions that recognize
your efforts to listen and act on member feedback.
Whether or not you
believe in social media and its power to influence behavior, it is a good
communications management strategy to pay attention to who is saying what about
your association’s brand online.
Ramesh heads the social media practice at CRT/tanaka and blogs at The Buzz Bin.