Online discussion forumsâ€???commonly referred to as consumer generated media (CGM)â€???are increasingly being used by consumers to ratify or criticize products and brands. Because consumers use these online discussion forums to check out other consumersâ€™ opinions and experiencesâ€???for pre- or post-shopping adviceâ€???they are shaping the perspectives of millions of consumers globally.
Good perspectives, and the author provides good advice for companies to be aware of the power of these online discussions in shaping the market. But what about reacting to them? What can a company do to preserve an online reputation?
What is missing is the value of being *involved* in the online discussions. Being aware is only part of the picture- the real issue is being able influence the online discussions and provide resources that enable the company to have a real voice that shapes opinions.
Companies who are concerned about their online reputation need to look for ways to participate in the discussions with a personal and honest voice.
Involvement may mean creating an online community of customers or starting a weblog. Only by being a part of the discussion can a company truly stick up for itself when it's being trashed online.
You can't respond to a weblogger with a press release.