Businesses are increasingly getting interested in what is said about them by customers on the Web. Whether it is a blog post, a Facebook update or even a random tweet, many large companies and multinational corporations invest a good deal of time, money and effort into understanding what kind of conversations are happening online about their brands. And it’s no surprise why they’re doing that – a missed complaint can escalate into a nasty public relations nightmare in a matter of hours, while a quick and efficient follow-up to an issue can earn much goodwill.
But smaller businesses may not have the resources to do what bigger companies do when it comes to online social media monitoring. The good news is that there are tools designed and catered for the needs of small businesses to monitor the social media sphere. ReputationWatch, for example, is an affordable SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solution available on SingTel myBusiness that helps small businesses understand what the public is saying about their company on social media.
To help businesses understand what ReputationWatch can do, three organizations were selected to trial the service – local businesses FarEastFlora.com and Rochor Beancurd House, as well as non-profit organization Cat Welfare Society. Over the next few weeks, these three organizations will be using ReputationWatch – developed by social media monitoring service JamiQ – to monitor online chatter on issues that concern them.
Navigating The Social Media Sphere
FarEastFlora.com, Rochor Beancurd House and Cat Welfare Society are not totally new to social media, and all three currently use Facebook and Twitter to engage their customers. FarEastFlora.com, for example, first started their Facebook page in July 2010 and to date has over 16,000 fans. “The main objective of using Facebook was to communicate to our customers and to build an on-going conversation with them,” explains Sarah Yong, Senior Manager of FarEastFlora.com, who adds that they use Twitter to inform followers about the promotions and contests. They currently use Google Alerts to track online conversations.
Vice president of the Cat Welfare Society, Veron Lau, says the society uses Facebook and Twitter mainly for community-building purposes. “We are all volunteers,” says Veron Lau. “We use these to understand what people expect of us, which helps us identify gaps in cat welfare.”
Rochor Beancurd House director Jason Koh (pictured above setting up ReputationWatch) explains that employing these social networking tools actually does help generate some business, especially for their delivery services. Sometimes, he even uses Facebook or Twitter to educate customers. “Recently people thought eating soya bean products caused gout and impotence,” recalls Jason Koh. “We then shared on social media a newspaper report on a health study to help debunk those misconceptions!”
Instant Feedback, Instant Action
But they all agree that, with social media, there is virtually no control over what fans will write about them. “On some days, it can be compliments. But on others, it will be complaints,” laughs FarEastFlora.com‘s Sarah Yong. Hence their need for social media monitoring, and also why they are looking forward to trying out ReputationWatch. “It is a tool for us to know what others are saying about us,” she says.
For Cat Welfare Society’s Veron Lau, using ReputationWatch will help ease the load off her, and two volunteers who help her with managing social media. For Jason, the online social media monitoring service will be a crucial crisis management tool to alert them on critical customer service issues.
Even as Jason Koh finished saying that, a notification alert comes through. He peers at his screen. “A customer just praised us on Twitter,” he says, grinning. The customer had tweeted that he dropped all six packets of soya beancurd and soya bean milk all over the floor, and gave credit to the staff who replaced them for free.
“It’s good to know feedback like this!”
Stay with us as we follow Sarah, Veron and Jason as they use ReputationWatch over the next few weeks.