I was planning to do another social media analysis (similar to the Construction companies and Housebuilders analysis) this time on the UK water companies but then I come across this little wonderful example of why social media and reputation monitoring is so important in protecting your brand online. Companies whose objective it is to communicate to consumers through many channels need to be on top of the social media game and be able to monitor and act upon brand mentions in online conversations and respond to them quickly. Likely places where consumers converse is on forums, blogs, community sites and…….social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Are you actively monitoring these places?
If you are going to open another channel for communication then conduct some advanced research first and plan…..and plan properly before you launch.
Anyway, whilst searching Twitter.com for all the profiles of the UK water companies I finally got to South West Water.
Here is the search results page on Twitter.com for South West Water (only the one result to choose from).
And here is the Twitter profile page for South West Water:
“Hang on! That is not South West Water” I hear you say. Exactly!
Who has the power to damage a brand’s reputation?
Ok, so in this case there are only 8 followers of this Twitter account but it is the principal of online reputation we are talking about here. I cannot believe that the Marketing staff within South West Water have not picked up on this (yet) or taken any steps to have this profile removed or blocked through Twitter. Twitter operate a policy where you can report a violation of brand names imposing to be a company. What marketers must realise is that the social space provides consumers and Average Joe’s to voice their opinions and possibly pretend to be you. Are you seeking out and listening to these opinions? Have you covered all your company trade names? Brand names?
Burying your head in the sand will not make this go away. Companies and brands must look to fit social marketing into their strategies today in some shape or form and be actively listening, monitoring and responding.
Key points to learn from this:
1) Protect you brand name: Someone has registered the South West Water company name as a Twitter handle when it should have already been registered to South West Water.
2) Act quickly: South West Water can and should block this page and own the Twitter handle. Trademark violation! (This link is the Twitter page for trademark violation and I recommend you read this)
3) Be Pro-Active: Running commentary of bad experience with South West Water for the online world to see. Brands should be more pro-active than reactive.
4) Don’t bury your head in the sand: First Tweet was published May 6th. Over 4 months ago!
5) Continuous monitoring needed: Finally, the page is still live today so let’s see how long before South West Water get this removed: http://twitter.com/SouthWestWater
So, even if you are not intending on using Twitter as a communication channel then the least you can do is protect your brand image and your reputation right? As a Marketing Manager or Communications Manager your job is to market your company as leaders, quality and a company who prides themselves on providing their customers with value and service. But if there are more negatives than positives in the social space, you will be forever playing catch up and fixing your online reputation.