The importance of online branding is, without doubt, equally applicable for both businesses and individuals. With increased emphasis on branding through digital marketing efforts and social media engagement these days, the need for reputation management and preservation becomes critical. One wrong move or erratic online behavour may spell public relations disaster, brand damage or, worse, the loss of customer/community trust (trust creates loyalty). The following is a case study on Monster.com.sg (or perhaps an “authorised agent”) that highlights an online practice that is both unconventional and inappropriate on many counts.
Writer’s Note: This post is not intended as an exposé. I sincerely welcome Monster.com.sg to provide their point-of-view and comments on this page or to engage me in private (email me at isman.tanuri at gmail.com). I am highlighting this as an opportunity for all of us to learn, understand and navigate the digital web better. Additional info: Monster.com.sg is a global recruitment portal which I personally use and subscribed to.
The Monster.com.sg Story
The other day, I received an innocuous looking email from ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ (displaying all of it below).
It was titled ‘You’ve Received a Zoomerang’. Spammy-sounding? Very much so. A quick Google search shows that Zoomerang is legitimate. Wondering what this is about, I clicked on the email. A somewhat abrupt and direct message greeted me, asking for my participation to ‘this survey’. ‘What survey?’, I asked. A Google query on ‘netsurveysingapore’ turned up nothing. Now, let us analyse this interaction so far.
The Importance of Email Etiquette
1. No ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’: A simple polite greeting would have suffice to rein in my attention, even for a moment more. Your audience, this audience, is a breathing, emotional being.
2. Personalisation: Since I had turned up in the contact database, I am surprised at the failure to address me personally. Compare the above email to the one I received from Paypal below. Paypal knows me and is not afraid to flaunt it.
3. Lack of Contact Info: No additional return contact other than the ‘dubious’ Yahoo! email address was included. Till now, I do not comprehend the need for the ninja-like secrecy and being almost-anonymous. It pays to brand yourself a little more in emails, your intention becomes much clearer to the reader.
4. ‘No future communication necessary?’: ‘Thank you in advance’ is a hit-and-run strategy. A one-time effort to minimise interaction or simply being lazy? A disinterested intern? I can’t figure it out. So, what value can I, as a customer, give you, the business, if you do not care to prolong or maintain the relationship? It is not a good way forward if the customer laments of being exploited and used.
So I took the plunge (in the name of research and adventure!) and clicked on the Zoomerang link (still up at time of writing). Lo and behold! It is Monster SG! Complete with corporate logo and tagline.
Now, this confuses me to no end. An almost anonymous email asking for my participation in a Monster.com.sg survey? This is their corporate communication practice? I still would like to give Monster.com.sg the benefits of my doubt. Maybe it is a less-than-savvy 3rd party service provider? Or a lack of financial resources for a proper campaign?
But inadvertently, the damage is done.
I am unsure how I can trust a brand, who has my personal details and permission to communicate with me, to approach me in such a manner. In my mind, this single activity has cheapened and degenerate the Monster.com brand value. Why? Because consumers tend to compare and others have done it better! Consider these:
To your credit, you’ve done well too, but why not this time?
In the age of social media, reputation management is a 24-7/365 effort I should say, for both business and personal brands.
This baffles me further….
Wow! It is a ‘what do you think of our competitors and us’ kind-of-survey. Gee. Based on this email activity, you have just shot yourself in the foot. The reader has lost all objectivity! Better luck next time, Monster!
As much as I applaud Monster.com.sg for their efforts in getting in touch with their subscribers to understand the marketplace better, this ‘guerilla tactic’ left a bad taste in my mouth. The web is about being open and transparent with your intentions, just as it is in a business meeting or a retail storefront.
Customers are a lot smarter these days in sussing out discrepancies and voicing their opinions. Take the Obolo Cakeshop episode. The backlash from online citizens generated tremendous amount of bad publicity and brand damage for Obolo Cakeshop, that on hindsight, it would have been much better to engage in a more honest and reconciliatory manner.
I welcome anyone to share their similar experiences with brands below for our learning benefits and understanding the pitfalls of lax brand reputation management.
Reputation Management –
1 – Dell is one brand that has recovered from its ‘Dell Hell’ disaster with its reputation intact. Dell embraced and leveraged on social media to repair its relations with customers and is now No. 1 in social media engagement among the world’s top technology brands in this study .
3 – Individuals are also seeing their personal reputation challenged openly. Read the story on how a keynote speaker was Twitter-heckled in REAL TIME.
Reputation Management Tools
Click on to learn more on how to use these tools will help to manage your online reputation:
1 – Google Alerts
2 – Search Twitter
3 – Addictomatic
Online Brand Monitoring Services
1 – Brandtology
2 – JamiQ
3 – Radian6