Is there an echo in here?

This week’s our readings focused us on not on participating online, but listening and watching. A couple of our readings focused on online reputation management, including this one from MIT Sloan Management Review titled “Online Reputation Systems: How to Design One That Does What You Need”. It said that in a time when more organizations are “harnessing the collective intelligence of crowds and communities,” capitalizing on the power of reputation will attract good, self-driven people that will trust each other and collaborate effectively. (I will talk about this a little more in a couple of weeks when I present Crowdsourcing.) As with any undertaking on the web, it’s important to identify your organization’s goals and clearly define what your conversations are.

Reputation is defined here as the summary of one’s past actions within the context of a specif community that can help other community members make decisions. And the aim of managing reputation is to build trust, promote quality, facilitate member matching, and sustain loyalty. Prior to reading this, I had no clue that I had already seen reputation systems in action, but I had — Amazon, eBay, Barnes and Noble, to name a few. After having an issue with a product recently, I begun looking online for solutions and what other people were saying and it completely changed my image of and loyalty to a specific brand.

While I did learn much about reputation management, I was even more fascinated by the white paper “Amplifying Your Social Echo.” First of all, social echo is the “powerful reverberation of conversations around your brand that occur in the numerous social networks where people gather today.” Measuring social echo is in essence another a tool for reputation management, but it is also a powerful, accessible, and efficient decision-making tool, also. Listening is the key in social media marketing, a topic that increasingly peaks my interest. Rufus Manning was quoted as saying, “So much can be obtained by understanding what the conversation is, as opposed to trying to start up a new conversation.” Traditional marketing has been so focused on generating talk, that watching and listening is a new approach. Online chatter can be so enlightening. The examples about Windstar and Unisys were spot on, showing that the echo is a giant, available focus group. Echo also tends to be what makes the news, often not so much the original message. If a celebrity or athlete tweets something that no one really pays attention to, it’s just another day. But if that same person tweets something that causes a major echo, then usually it makes for a good story.

This is where analytics plays a big role in monitoring the impact of social media marketing and “social currency”. Time, focused effort, and significant dollars will be required to invest fully in social media marketing and monitoring. Another great point was the advice to not jump into social media conversations on a difficult issue, but to wait, find answers, and hone in on the right message. There are too many non-examples of this on the Internet right now. Here is a great blog entry I ran across Blind Five Year Old, an online marketing firm specializing in search, that presents social echo plainly.

Where would you be more likely to focus your time and money – online reputation systems or social echo amplification?

6 thoughts on “Is there an echo in here?

  1. I think I would focus more on online reputation systems. I feel that more people respond to ratings and reviews with interest vs just blasts or viral posts/videos. Both are equally as effective to a company if used right and maintained. I personally ignore things that are shared over and over just out of annoyance, like the Gangnam Style video.

  2. I love that quote by Rufus Manning, too, about understanding what the conversation is, rather than trying to start a new one. It brings to mind an image of a charlatan at a dinner party who utterly fails to grasp what the other guests are talking about, so he tries vainly to change the subject to something he CAN talk knowledgeably about. No one likes that guy, and no one likes that company.

    Social media marketing is so much more effective when you meet your target audience where they’re at: on the right social networks, in the conversations they’re already having. I liken it, too, to the town-hall-style presidential debate. Candidates who speak directly to the person asking the question, who answer directly and on that person’s level, are generally seen quite favorably for doing so, because they give the impression that they care and that they’re listening. The same principle applies to companies and individuals trying to develop a positive online reputation.

  3. I agree with Linda. Online reputation systems seems more a priority to me. At least at the companies I’ve worked for, keeping channels of communications open, active, current, and relevant seems to be a good PR strategy. I feel the companies are more legit when they have constant content rather than viral campaigns. Also, the social echo measurement system seems too complicated to me and would be beyond the capabilities of some smaller companies.

  4. I wanted to say online reputation first but I’m going to go with Social Echo. I think you could learn a lot by what you hear and in turn can turn around any negative feedback around internally. Once turned around, the pain points will have been relieved and your social echo will immediately get better. Online reputation is obviously important but if you don’t know what your audience is saying then you won’t know what to put out there.

  5. I’m coming around to the same way of thinking, Kristi. Online reputation seems a defensive mode of managing your organization’s reputation, although it is still very necessary. The echo appears to be more offensive in that you can make important decisions without doing anything more than listening to what customers/users want, and you can be less invasive and “in your face” about managing thought. It is a great way of staying in touch. Probably developing a program with a bit of both is the safest approach.

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