Online Reputation Management – Are you Paying Attention?

April 15, 2009

In the current chaos of this recent economic drama it’s easy to bury our heads in the sand, focus on today’s work and practice survival. Human Capital Managers have their hands full with understaffed departments, diminished budgets and employees who are feeling added stress personally (and professionally). In the midst of all the negative press recently there are companies who are thriving. As well, we are getting little signs of light as earnings reports are stopping their freefall. This means that yes, we will come out of our dreary state and probably sooner than many of us anticipate.

That Talent War that you were experiencing last year? Remember when you had open positions, candidates were receiving multiple offers and you were fighting to get the best folks hired before someone else did? Those times will absolutely reappear, and with a multiple attached.

In the meantime there is a new phenomenon occurring out there. A new role is emerging within the corporate ranks. This role is responsible for “Online Reputation Management.’ The new responsibility is falling to the marketing department and these lucky folks are tasked with monitoring online activity relating to their company and associated brands. Creation of an interactive experience where customer satisfaction, competitor name-dropping and employee social communication becomes part of external communication channels. Yes, this means that someone in marketing will get paid for hanging out on Facebook.

But, marketing isn’t the only department that will be affected by this emergence. The stage is being set right now for the future of your recruitment efforts. Your ability to access, attract and hire top talent will depend on your reputation in the market. Not only will prospective candidates check you out as a company to work for, they will be researching you as a company to do business with. You as a company will be especially important to Generation Y job seekers. They want to work for a company who is well respected, takes care of their customers, believes in sustainability and creates a productive culture where they can learn, grow and contribute.

Your reputation as an employer is determined by how you behave (and are perceived) online and in the flesh. However I’m focusing in the electronic reputation space since you have a lot less control over it.

Take some time to reflect on these questions – paying close attention to the social media outlets:

1. What do your employees say about your company and its people?
2. What do your customers employees have to say about your employees?
3. How many of your employees have blogs and what are they talking about?
4. When people apply for a position with your company what is their experience?
5. Are you easy to access?
6. Is your recruiting staff approachable, friendly and helpful?
7. Are all touch points (email, phone and web) positive?

The good news is that it doesn’t cost a lot to manage, monitor and interact with your online audience and the ROI is incredible. Without active attention to the online social communities, you won’t have access to top talent. With a stellar reputation however, you’ll easily hire and retain the best – and keep them away from your competition.

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