Beat Bad Buzz by Tracking Your Own Brand in the Blogosphere

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Tue, Aug 28 - 12:17 am EDT | 7 years ago by
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Guest blogger Brittney Gilbert offers some practical advice for companies wanting to guard against bad buzz from the blogosphere.

When widely read blogger Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine, AKA Internet Rockstar bought a Dell computer that bit the dust on him, he took to complaining about it on his website. He wrote several entries about “the lemon” he bought that basically exploded on him and the sucky customer service that came when he contacted the company about his dilemma. Jarvis’ posts quickly climbed their way up in Google’s rankings, one even topping Dell’s own website in the search results for “Dell”. A quick recap at Jarvis’ blog.

Soon Dell got a clue and began cleaning up their web woes by offering a full refund to Jarvis, communicating with the blogger, but more importantly by starting a blog of their own. It took a while for this PR move to soothe the beasts within the blogosphere, but they eventually came around. Even the harshest and most hardened bloggers can be swayed by a transparent move by a company who learns from its mistakes, all the while having good intentions. It’s hard to keep yelling in the face of that.

Here’s the thing, though: Dell could have prevented most, if not all, of this. Sure, they learned a hard lesson, and hard lessons are often the most effective kind, but who wants to be a constant example of what not to do in new media marketing and customer service? Had Dell had the foresight to invest in blogging by paying someone to write one for them full time–someone to act as a voice for the company, someone who would act as a listening conduit for the corporation and, maybe most importantly of all, someone who could scour the web looking for mentions of “Dell computer” or any permutations thereof–they could have prevented being an example in this and many other blog posts about what not to do.

Had Dell hired someone to immerse themselves in the blogosphere to be a voice of their brand that is authentic and honest, someone who is a regular reader and commenter of web dialog, they could have gotten ahead of the bad buzz. Dell’s blogger, had she been watching her Google alert feeds or Technorati results, would have had the ability to tackle the complaints head on instead of sitting back and watching the negative feedback blow up in their face. So to speak.

Companies, set up Google Alerts to be sent to your inbox or track them through your preferred feed reader. Google Alerts are, according to the search giant, “email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.” So, for instance, if a Dell blogger set up Google alerts for search results based on queries like “Dell laptops,” ” PowerVault NX1950,” “Vostro,” “OptiPlex” or even the misspelled “Del computer”, she’d know almost immediately of any self-published complaint or concern a customer had about her employer’s brand. It is important to get alerts for as many varied search queries as you can imagine. People talk about companies and their products in ways you wouldn’t expect, which is why I mention the misspelling. Be exhaustive, and you’ll not overlook a potentially damaging post.

Google Blog Search is another great way to see what other people are saying about you. Sometimes entering the name of your company into the Blog Search brings up results you might not get as quickly from your Alert. Google’s Blog Search can scan blog sites based on what was written just within the past hour, which gives companies unparalleled immediacy in identifying and addressing concerns from customers–concerns that can have unwanted (and maybe even unwarranted) ripple effects.

Companies should, in essence, stalk themselves. They should know what people online are saying about them, preferably before too many others do. That’s when bad buzz gets out of hand. But with a stalker’s mentality it’s easy to stay ahead of the game. In this case ego searching is essential.

Brittney Gilbert is a writer and professional blogger who has been self-publishing online since 1999. A seasoned corporate and personal blogger, Brittney was editor and author, until June this year, of the highly popular Nashville Is Talking and is now copy editor for Blog Magazine, which is dedicated to covering “the magazine industry at large, news of brand-new or dying periodicals, hot content and trends in coverage as well as covers”. She hates the word blogosphere, but uses it anyway.

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  • http://jimvoorhies.com jim voorhies

    Most companies are behind the curve in dealing with the internet. Sure, they’ve figured out that they need a website and maybe that it ought to be more than an online brochure, but at that point, they’re firmly attached to internet behavior representing where they should have been at the end of the last century.

    Internet life has moved on and blogging is now “current internet speed.”

    Although what interests bloggers may vary from day to day, bad experiences are the stuff of a company’s nightmare, or they should be. The ability of an individual with a bad customer experience to catch the interest and arouse the concern of millions of prospective consumers is nothing to take lightly. The potential for bad press (that, as a blog post, will always be available to others who search) is very real. Those companies who ignore this do so at their peril.

  • http://midtnrealty.wordpress.com Kathy T.

    Thanks for the interesting info! I can think of many many organizations who should employ a full-time blogger, but meanwhile the google alert tip is oh-so-helpful!

  • http://www.ihateyourjob.com Chuck Westbrook

    The first step in the process is an earnest method of receiving and responding to customer complains/feedback.

    If you’re trolling blogs and searching Google, you will certainly find useful info. If you do something with that info, you’ll be helping yourself in a tremendous way.

    Dell seems to have gotten the message. Nice post!

  • http://www.direct2dell.com RichardatDELL

    Hi Brittney,
    Very sound commentary and advice based on our past. As many have noted, including you, we have moved forward. You might want to check this page out where Jeremiah tracks the moves to “Dell Swell” http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2007/02/25/social-media-saga-continues-as-company-advances-towards-dell-swell/

    Or even this link about “drinks with dell” as real proof of how far companies can move in a positive direction.
    http://www.buzzmachine.com/2007/04/03/drinks-with-dell/

    In fact, whether its direct2dell, our technical support blog outreach team, studiodell, Dell’s Ideastorm, or the new Dell.com ratings and reviews, these all go well beyond a google or technorati alert. The alerts are simply the first part of the equation, really.

    The other part of the equation is being active and participating online with social networks and communities.

    I believe the real story is of our company acting on what we experienced, and how we continue to work to do a better job every day by listening, learning and conversing with customers and others who want to chat with us.

    Appreciate your perspective and insight. Hope this adds some value too to the story

  • http://brittneygilbert.com brittney

    Absolutely does. Your comment here demonstrates the strides Dell has made in new media marketing. Hats off to you.

  • Krysta

    I think your points are extremely valid and your progressive thought should be applied to many companies. Rather than investing in more customer service or assistance companies, its time for many companies to join the blogosphere and moving forward. It opens many doors to one-on-one contact with customers/clients. I think blogging is something most companies will invest in. Having a voice in this day in age where anyone who is anyone can write on the internet is important. Blogging serves as a fast and effective way of getting your opinion out there–stat! Kudos to your perspective on this, I believe its SPOT ON.

  • http://www.direct2dell.com/ RichardatDELL

    Thanks for feedback. Krysta, not sure it is an either or…we are learning more and also investing more to regain our leadership in customer service too