A guest article by Christian Arno. You too can be part of this great knowledge sharing community. Take a look at our guest blogging guidelines.
Whatever business you happen to be in, your reputation is one of your greatest assets. Building brand awareness is every bit as important (if people haven’t heard of you in the first place, there’s no reputation to manage) but once they have, the way people perceive your brand is crucial to your success.
The Internet has undoubtedly opened up a whole host of marketing opportunities, allowing businesses both large and small to reach out to new markets and audiences that would otherwise have been inaccessible without a large expenditure of time and resources.
It also provides a platform for conversation that spans both geographical and linguistic divides. This makes it even more important to monitor and manage your reputation across as many languages as possible.
Follow the conversation with Google Alerts
It’s difficult to manage your reputation if you don’t know who’s talking about you and where and when they’re doing so. Your own websites and social media profiles are certainly areas where you might expect to receive feedback, but Google Alerts will allow you to track other mentions of your brand or business by emailing updates whenever your chosen keyword shows in Google’s search results. You can also choose different language settings, allowing you to track mentions of your keyword across different languages. There are also online services such as Boardtracker, which specializes in scanning Internet forums and message boards for your mentions of your keyword (such as your brand name).
Make use of social media
Social media sites offer an ideal platform for direct communication with your customer base, and for monitoring the online conversation about your brand. You can make announcements, answer questions, collect feedback and respond to criticisms, all on free-to-use sites. The major players such as Facebook and Twitter have multinational followings but don’t forget that in some areas local competitors have a greater market share. In China, for example, Qzone and Renren are the most popular platforms while Orkut rules the roost in Brazil – you’ll need to tailor your social media strategy to the particularities of the popular social networks in each of your target foreign markets.
Consider your translation
Of course, if you’re disseminating content on foreign social networks, you’ll need to have your content translated. There are a number of machine translation systems available, such as Yahoo! Babel Fish and Google Translate. You can copy and paste any chunk of text for a quick ‘dictionary-style’ translation. This is fine for getting an idea of what people are saying about you, but for your own posts, responses and website content, a native-speaking translator will yield far better results.
Even the best machine translation can be prone to contextual errors and will often not deal well with things such as slang, colloquialisms and abbreviations. Using a native translator will prevent your copy from looking stilted and amateurish, adding local knowledge and a more human face to your online presence. When it comes to building and preserving your online reputation the easiest thing you can do is to make sure that your copy is sophisticated and well-written across all your target languages!
Many people will actively seek out online reviews before deciding on a particular product or service. You can increase the frequency of reviews you receive by offering incentives such as vouchers or a prize draw for participants, but these should apply equally to all reviews, whether positive or negative. Reviews should be seen to be both fair and unbiased.
Google Maps is a good platform for reviews of services in many localities and languages, and sites like Amazon also offer the chance to get multilingual reviews if you use them as sales platforms.
If you do get a bad review, you may wish to respond if there’s a facility to do so. Always do so calmly and politely, even if you consider the criticisms to be unfair. Present your argument, correct any factual errors and detail how you will improve your service in future regarding any valid points.
Again, this can all be done with machine translation, but a native-speaking translator will make your copy look better, which is after all what managing your online reputation is all about.