Manage Your Brand Online Like You Would Manage Cancer

by Guy Ralfe on September 9, 2009

brand erosion

As a follow on from last week’s article Be Socially responsible with your Social Identity, this article focus’s on Brand Protection.

According to Jakob Nielsen a leading usability expert and author of several books

“When we let users loose to go anywhere they wanted on the Web, they went to a search engine 88 percent of the time. Only in 12 percent of cases did they go straight to a Web site. In 93 percent of searches, the users in our study only visited the first SERP (Search Engine Results Page), which usually held ten search results plus a number of ads. In only seven percent of cases did users page on to a second SERP. Only 47 percent of users scrolled the first SERP, which means that 53 percent saw only those search hits that were ‘above the fold.’ “

You may be wondering what this has to do with Brand protection? What this shows is that the way people use the internet to research, particularly for Brands and Products, means that it is increasingly important that your Brand or Product’s message shows up to users the way you intend them to at the top of the first SERP.

This may not seem much of a concern but when you think that today there are 150+ main stream social media sites with large user populations there is an ever increasing chance that the results showing up for your brand or product were not crafted by you. You know the saying – “A happy customer tells one friend, and unhappy customer tells everybody”. So the chances are the social messages about your brand produced by others are unlikely to be positive and can wreck havoc through the viral nature of social media,  if not constantly screened, monitored and mitigated.

There are two main concerns when considering brand protection:

  1. Brand Impersonation – as with all sites there is some sort of name/username required when setting up an account. You need to ensure that you have these accounts for your brand and product in the main applicable social sites as a priority. Your competitors will be just as anxious to secure that account name as you are! There are companies that provide services to help secure usernames and URL’s across social media sites, such as Usernamez, Knowem, UserNameCheck.
  2. Brand Search Results – it is vital you ensure your website is search engine optimized. On top of this you have to perform regular checks of what is being returned when you perform searches on your brand or product. Not only searches via search engines, but also within the large social media sites such as facebook, twitter or within interest groups where users can post relevant opinions.

I share my recent experience in the power of social media, in this case a hotel booking. Hotels have harnessed the internet in a great way to market their product via multiple internet channels and this has come with a benefit to both hotelier, in reaching wider audiences and for guests, in the information available and ease of booking.

Around a year ago I stayed in a hotel while traveling. It was a reasonable hotel that was fair value for me when I stayed there last. I now found myself needing to book a hotel in the same area so I decided to book at the same hotel. I knew the standard of the hotel from my last stay there so it seemed an obvious choice. Just before booking the hotel I decided to read the reviews. The reviews were mostly negative and even though I knew about all the issues described in the review, the comments triggered enough concern to make me book somewhere else.

Like older women are advised to have their breasts screened regularly as it rewards with a significantly higher cancer survival rate when diagnosed early, the same can be said about managing your brand and products identities online. Screen them  regularly and deal with threats quickly and efficiently.

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