Although it seems like eons ago, one of the most dependable ways for a company to ensure its reputation was to hire a public relations firm. The PR agents would wine and dine members of the press while selling them on the positive accomplishments of their clients. In time, these relationships would translate into favorable mentions in the pages of magazines and newspapers. Should a crisis develop, PR "flacks" would call in favors with reporters in order to lessen the blow.
Then came the time when managing a company's reputation was no longer about just developing a long-term, press-friendly strategy. In a matter of minutes, disgruntled customers could take to social media outlets to complain about a company and its products. The company, at the center of the storm, often did not have the in-house resources or a technologically competent PR firm to launch a swift and effective counter-offensive in cyberspace.
Fast forward to today where more companies are taking advantage of social media monitoring services as part of their overall brand management program. Customer comments on Facebook, twitter or any other social media platform can be analyzed in near real time giving brands new opportunities to engage with customers. In a world where cloud computing and Big Data have come to dominate how large companies relate to their markets, customer relationship management via social media doesn't seem much of a stretch.
When it comes to managing a company's reputation today, the realm of social media can, ironically, be a vast and faceless one. And who better to tackle that imposing space than a business process outsourcing (BPO) firm with expertise in harnessing the power of Big Data? I look at these developments as a validation of the concept tagged "insight as a service" that emerged several years ago as cloud based services were being conceived. Not only can a company use its BPO firm to monitor social media sites, but it can proactively make sales leads as well.
According to some experts, social media management could soon be a $50 billion business. Platforms to manage social media including sentiment analysis and trending topics will become table stakes. The real differentiator will become the expertise that helps interpret and helps companies respond quickly and effectively. Partnerships between platform providers and service organizations with brand management expertise are already in place. Leading analysts says that, in less than three years, more than half of all corporate call centers will have social media monitoring as a main component. It appears that savvy organizations are already acknowledging just how powerful digital consumers can be.
Just as we live in a multifaceted world, so, too, have multi-channel communications come to dominate how companies ensure the reputations of their brands. Better still is the recognition that they can leverage BPO firms to use social media to advantage. In the not-too-distant future, when the rants of disgruntled customers are drowned out by the musings of happy consumers, will anyone really know who's really behind all that cheerleading?