In the digital age, it's easier than ever before for businesses both great and small to reach out to new markets. The downside is that reputation management is now more important than ever before. A recent survey by PR giant Weber Shandwick found that consumers were placing an increasing importance on the reputation of the company behind the product.
Some Asian consumers may be particularly proactive when it comes to linking products and corporate reputation. Eighty-seven percent of Chinese respondents completely agreed with the statement: "More and more, I check labels to see what company is behind the product I'm buying," compared to 48 percent of U.K. and 57 percent of U.S. consumers. Eighty percent of Chinese respondents also claimed to do research to learn about the companies that make the products they buy. An assurance of quality was obviously important. But consumers also care about issues such as environmental impact, ethical values, and a company's commitment to the local community.
The digital landscape is vast and it can be tricky enough monitoring and managing your online reputation in a single language. It can be even more difficult across different languages. Here are a few tips to help you stay on top of the situation...
Monitor the Conversation With Google Alerts
The first logical step in monitoring your online reputation is to find out what people are saying about your brand and where they are saying it. Google Alerts is a great way to monitor the online conversation, allowing you to receive email alerts whenever your chosen keywords (such as your company or product names) appear in Google's search results. You can choose the frequency of your alerts. The language settings allow you to monitor search results across different languages, including Chinese (both Simplified and Traditional), Japanese, and Korean. Google is the single most visited search engine in the world but it's worth remembering that it's not the leader in every market, particularly within Asia. Baidu is the most popular search engine in China while Yahoo Japan is the most popular in Japan.
Use the Most Appropriate Social Media
Just as Google is the most popular search engine worldwide but does not dominate in every territory, there are social media sites that outperform the likes of Facebook and Twitter within their own markets. China, where Facebook is officially banned, represents an obvious gap in Facebook's global dominance. An eMarketer report lists Tencent QZone as the market leader in China with a massive 536 million users, while Tencent Weibo, Sina Weibo, and Renren also have significant market shares.
Not all the conversations about your brand will necessarily happen on your own profile pages or sites however. Many social media sites (including Facebook) allow you to search for mentions of your keyword within publicly accessible pages within the community but there are also tools like SocialMention and 48ers that will search a number of social media sites simultaneously. There are also a number of different sites and services such as Boardreader and Big Boards that specialize in trawling message boards and forums.
Think Global, Act Local
Localizing your websites and social media websites can often help engender a feeling of trust within visitors. Many companies attempting to go global online will use English as a "lingua franca" or bridging language. This can work to a certain degree as English remains the most commonly used language online but it still only represents around a quarter of total usage. Studies have shown that people put more trust in sites written in their own native language, and it may be worth considering a fully localized site for each of your target markets.
Consider Professional Reputation Monitoring Services
It's possible to monitor and manage your brand reputation yourself but there are also a number of tools that can help for a one-off, monthly, or annual fee. Some, like Trackur, offer free basic plans alongside more extensive paid-for services and promise to monitor "just about anything people may find you for in Google or the other major search engines," and also include social media blogs, social networks, forums, images, and video. TweetBeep focuses exclusively on Twitter while Rankur allows you to monitor mentions of competitors and negative posts about your own brand.
Monitoring your online reputation across different languages can be a challenge. But your reputation is one of your biggest assets and protecting it can be worth every last bit of effort.
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Christian Arno is the founder of translation services provider Lingo24, Inc. Launched in 2001, Lingo24, Inc. now has more than 200 employees spanning four continents and clients in more than 60 countries. Follow Lingo24, Inc. on Twitter: @Lingo24.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT