Brendan King: What’s next in reputation management?

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Brendan, Ches, and Jeff were in Denver last week for the BIA/Kelsey Directional Media Strategies summit, where Brendan took part in a forum called “The Social-Driven SMB”. Here’s the summary from the Kelsey blog.

On Friday over lunch, Brendan recapped his DMS discussions, and I took some notes.

Fan-gating and social loyalty.

In an earlier post I mentioned “fan-gating” as a concept Brendan would be talking about at DMS.

Fan-gating means…well, getting fans through the gate. In social media terms, it means giving your customers a reason to like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter. Crudely, this can be done by offering rewards or freebies to your social followers, but the point isn’t to attract fans to a sterile site by bribery. The point is to give your fans a reason to be fanatical.

Greek restaurant owner.
Ouzo for influencers.

Influencing the influencers.

Brendan mentioned a Greek restaurant here in Saskatoon where the owner regularly makes a round of the tables at dinnertime, greeting everyone personally and pouring out free shots of ouzo. Regular customers soon become familiar to the owner, and he gives them extra attention.

Now, it’s nice to give your regulars extra attention. They’ll tell their friends, their friends will tell their friends, and so on. That’s how you build a business. But some customers have more influence¬† than others. Because they have a lot of friends, or because their opinions are widely respected, their recommendations carry extra weight. These are the people that we in the social media biz call key influencers.

Sometimes a limo pulls up to your restaurant and disgorges a celebrity with a twenty-person entourage. That key influencer is easy to spot. But food bloggers, Top Yelpers, and Twitter mavens don’t typically arrive with entourages. Reputation management lets you identify these key influencers so you can give them the extra shot of ouzo, figuratively speaking, that means the difference between a 3.5 star and a 4 star review.

Challenge and opportunity.

Brendan mentioned a story that got a lot of play last month – the free meal that Morton’s Steakhouse delivered to social media expert Peter Shankman at Newark Airport, in response to a joking tweet he’d sent out. Now there’s an example of a company giving special attention to an online key influencer.

Here’s the problem. Unlike Morton’s, which can afford to pay someone to monitor the Twitter stream, SMBs like our Greek restaurateur often don’t have the time or technical wherewithal to deal with social media.

That’s a challenge for the rep man industry – we need to deliver results that can be grasped at a glance and easily acted on.

It’s also an opportunity for the industry. A Greek restaurant can’t afford a social media manager. But maybe they can afford a few more bucks a month for a “deluxe” rep man package with personalized services like correcting inaccurate online listings, maintaining a Facebook page, or even responding to negative reviews.

Social is for businesses that are good.

Brendan paraphrased another message he delivered at DMS:

“People in our industry keep saying, social is good for business. Well, there’s another side of that, which is that social is for businesses that are good.

“I hear business owners say, ‘This social stuff isn’t worth the trouble.’ Well you know what, it’s not for everyone. For businesses that deliver a great customer experience, social is pretty easy. Your customers will do a lot of the work for you. They want to share those great experiences with their friends.

“For businesses that can’t deliver a great customer experience, you’re right – stick with conventional advertising. It’s the only way you’ll bring people through the door.”