With the internet fast becoming the primary communication platform for many consumers, the ability for consumers to broadcast opinions about products, services and brands to a large audience of clients / potential clients is far greater than traditional word of mouth.
The opinions are being broadcast uncensored via social media platforms and present a huge challenge for businesses looking to build and manage their online reputation as they are almost impossible to control. The size of this online audience is huge, potentially in the vicinity of hundreds of millions, so the importance of managing your online reputation is considerable.
The extent that social media is pervading our lives and our purchasing decisions is highlighted by Melanie Ingrey, Director for Nielsen’s online business “86% of Australian internet users are looking to their fellow internet users for opinions and information on products, services and brands..”.
Further to this, in a survey by Rightnow in 2010, 16% of Australian consumers said they had stopped doing business with a company because of a social media discussion about how the company treats its customers. Conversely, 16% said they had seen a positive consumer discussion about a company and had gone on to make a purchase.
There are tools online that alert you to any discussions about your product, service or brand that enable you to engage early into these online discussions and avert any major damage should the conversation be going that way, but for me it comes down to a very basic principal – provide a world class product / service to every client, every single day.