People talk, and word of mouth spreads further and faster online than it ever could face-to-face – which is a mixed blessing for businesses.
Let’s start with the bad news. Facebook, Twitter, and online customer reviews can all shape perceptions of your business and its products and services. There are potentially millions of messages about your business from customers, suppliers, partners and employees out there in cyberspace - and you can never be completely in control of them.
Fortunately, there is good news too. As well as sharing their experiences of disappointing service or product shortcomings, netizens recommend services that have wowed them and products that have exceeded their expectations, so their influence can work for you as well as against you.
I know it’s a cliché, but knowledge really is power. People make up their mind about a product within a few seconds of encountering it for the first time, and as Google’s Jim Lecinski highlights in his free ebook Winning the Zero Moment of Truth, this decision-making moment increasingly takes place online.
Boundless amounts of research are available to billions of people, and they aren’t afraid to use it. Employees, suppliers, and customers can all have their say, and wield their ‘off message’ influence – in China, for example, it’s common to instant message family and friends for advice before buying online. So you must rise to the challenge.
Monitor what’s being said about you, and whether it is correct. Communicate with stakeholders, and tilt the balance in favour of your messages and values. Decide if you are going to deal with all of this by being reactive or proactive, and then join the conversation – because if you don’t do the talking, somebody else will.
Post By Keith Holdt (22 Posts)
Based in London, Keith works for LDC (www.ldc.co.uk), where as an investment executive he supports the boards and senior management teams of portfolio businesses driving value enhancement initiatives that generate shareholder value growth through cash generation, revenue growth and cost saving. Keith is also an associate speaker of TomorrowToday (www.tomorrowtoday.uk.com), an organisation focused on preparing leaders and their organisations for a new world of work, and in this capacity speaks on the impact on businesses of developments in Big Data, social media & hybrid analytics towards improved leadership and corporate decision-making and how this value can be exploited to deliver success. He has acted in an advisory capacity for a number of SME’s and start-ups, and currently serves on the Board of Advisors for Saffron Technologies (www.saffrontech.com), a US-based natural intelligence & hybrid analytics company positioned by both Gartner and Forrester as a market leader in the space.