The May 10 issue of Canadian Business had an interesting article about the importance of social media to an organization's reputation in which social media gadfly, Dave Fleet, and I were both asked for our thoughts.  It seems we were in violent agreement with each other.

My quote focused on the idea that many big Canadian companies are involved in social media, but many are in the reputation monitoring phase and not necessarily ready to be part of the clichéd "join the conversation crowd":

To be fair, the way some of the companies in the survey use social media isn’t designed to catch the attention of the public. “I have lots of clients who do stuff behind the scenes,” says Dave Jones, Hill & Knowlton’s vice-president for digital communications. “They’re reacting, but they’re never going to stand up and speak at an event about how great they are at social media.” Some of the companies with which Jones works, particularly industrial clients in the mining and resource sectors, are concerned about social media’s potential effect on their brand’s reputation and are currently more interested in monitoring the conversation than in rolling out their own “big, shiny social-media group.” (He declined to name specific clients.)

I go on to explain that listening and analyzing conversations both good and bad are vital to ensuring that companies don't over- or under-react to what's going on in social media.

Hill & Knowlton Canada deals with a lot of clients who see social media as having a significant influence on their reputation. But it goes much deeper than that. Mainstream media is still extremely powerful as a driver of public opinion, but also as an influencer of search results. With this in mind the H&K social media team has devised a hybrid approach to managing reputation online that incorporates the following as appropriate:

  • Social Media

  • SEO

  • Paid Search

  • Google Ad Words

  • Online display advertising

This slideshow should give you a taste of how we need to be thinking when we're counselling our clients about protecting or repairing their reputations. Thinking about strategic communications with a view to the end audience vs. thinking about the channels we traditionally play in means we give the best and most effective counsel to our clients.

You may have to watch the presentation in full screen as the upload to Slideshare has buggered up the resolution at the default screen size. Just click on the menu button at the bottom of the slide.