The Reputation Playbook guides executive-level managers & business owners into planning and managing their reputation in the sometimes confusing digital world.
In The Reputation Playbook, Jennifer Janson, reputation management specialist, believes that business owners and upper-level management have squandered opportunities when it comes to social media. Many owners don’t engage in social media either because they haven’t bought into the idea or lack the time. Those owners who do engage in social media often don’t use it effectively or use minimal resources (aka interns) to manage their online reputation.
Janson believes that business owners can and should do more.
Reputation Management is Now a Two-Way Street
The Reputation Playbook, of which I received a review copy, specifically targets the CEO and business owners whose response to social media marketing is “I don’t have time for Twitter” or “Facebook is for teenage children”. Her book suggests that a business’s’ reputation is too powerful to be placed solely in the hands of one department or a group of interns.
Enhancing a business’ reputation should be a part of every aspect of a business, from SWOT planning to how you deal you deal with a difficult customer. The best place to do that is online, where many people leave their comments about a business. In a world that where customers expect to find a business online, anything less could mean losing to the competition.
The Reputation Playbook lays the foundation for a new way and a new strategy for looking at reputation management in this era of Yelp, Amazon, and social media.
Proactively Manage Your Online Reputation Now for Future Benefit
In the past, Janson argues, reputation management was easier to manage. When you had an internal issue, you might lose an employee. When you had a disgruntled customer, they might tell a few friends.
Now, with the rise of social media, reputation management has become more complicated. Anyone with an Internet connection can share their opinion of a company with thousands within a second. A single mistake or delayed response can be magnified into a crisis that can be carried on for months and days. So how do you handle all of this?
Janson suggests that businesses should use social media and other online outlets proactively. Social media, in particular, provides an opportunity to directly monitor whether your marketing is working, speak directly to customers, and utilize brand ambassadors to spread your message. Social media can be used to share a new product line and get immediate feedback or it can be used to demonstrate company’s competitive advantage in an industry or customer service. It can be used on a personal level (a business owner who blogs about an industry trend) or organization level (to offer a personal response to a business crisis).
Consistently engaging on social media develops the trust customers look for and the community that businesses can connect with for future sales and support.
The Downside of a Business Going Online
That being said, Janson is not afraid to confront the challenges of online reputation management for a business. The Reputation Playbook highlights the difficulty business have in addressing an “always on” platform. Having the manpower and time to monitor and respond this kind of activity requires a significant investment. Social media is also leading to calls for more transparency.
Because of social media and other online outlets, it is much easier for customer to “connect the dots” between what a business says it will do and what a company does. It’s also easier for customers, employees, and more to share what they think of a company’s actions as well.
We all know of the social media “horror stories” where a company representative posted an inappropriate tweet or a disgruntled employee fires off an angry Facebook post about a company. The Reputation Playbook provides several examples of companies that had to deal with a public relations crisis after a simple tweet. Some companies lost a significant amount of revenue because of the negative perception which coincided, in part, with improper handling of social media.
The best way to deal with these risks, Janson suggests, is through proactive use of social media:
- develop a strong sense of who you are (Chapter 10),
- what message you want to send (Chapter 12),
- a way to measure your efforts (Chapter 16),
- an emergency procedure if things go wrong (Chapter 13).
This way you can grab onto the opportunities out there (finding new customers, developing customer loyalty, monitoring trends), while handling the risks (negative comments, spam, and angry customers).
The Million Dollar Question: Will The Reputation Playbook Help A Small Business?
The answer is a little mixed. As emphasized at several points in the book, reputations matter to every business big or small. Whether your company has one customer or hundreds, there is an opportunity for someone to mention or learn about your business online. That, in turn, can lead to potential increased or decreased revenue for your bottom line in the future.
On the other hand, the book makes the assumption that managers are familiar and comfortable with the principles of using social media for business. It is geared toward companies that have separate business departments, a well-known or maturing brand, and the ability to dedicate time to social media. If your business has those qualities, this book will enhance your understanding of how that presence ties into your reputation.
About the Author
Jennifer Janson is the owner of Six Degrees, reputation management agency, and guest lecturer on business reputation. More information about her can be found at her website or on Twitter (@JenJanson). The Reputation Playbook: A Winning Formula to Help Ceos Protect Corporate Reputation in the Digital Economy can be found on Amazon.