3 Ways to Manage Consumer Generated Media

The continually rising number of people participating in creating media through social networks is increasing every day, which means the amount of consumer generated media about your company is also increasing on social sites like Facebook and Twitter, on review sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, and also on photo and video sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube. This means marketers no longer control or have as much control over the brand message. How do you align this consumer generated media with your brand and make it consistent with the target market that your property is going after?

The challenge is letting go of that need to control the brand message and figuring out how best to manage the consumer generated media instead. The key to managing instead of of controlling lies in a few strategies of engagement and understanding.

1. Engage in a Dialogue with your Customers

Use social media to respond to consumer comments. It may take some time, but a customer who receives a reply, a retweet, or a thank you feels connected to your company. Knowing that someone is listening and taking their opinions and comments seriously creates a relationship. Responding to negative feedback and letting a customer know that “that isn’t how we run things” and “next time, your experience will be more ____” gives you the opportunity to say what your brand promise is. Replying and retweeting comments and photos that are aligned with your brand promise is another way to promote what  your brand promise is to more eyes online.

2. Promote Conversations that Align with your Brand

You can encourage customers to talk about some of their brand experiences along key brand themes. If your resort is family friendly, marketers can invite customers to share their stories, photos, videos, testimonials, etc. of their family having fun on your property either on their own social networks or directly onto your company website.

3. Analyze What People are Saying

A tool that I found to be very insightful and illustrative in gathering social media data is to create a word cloud with a tool like Wordle. Just copy and paste anything from one review to dozens and it will use a kind of algorithm to count the words that are used in consumer text. It then emphasizes certain words that really stand out, or that are used the most, and it creates a visual picture of what people saying.

A more involved approach is what’s called content analysis. And this would require a team of analysts or managers reading through customer comments and manually pulling out key themes. What do people seem to be saying the most?

Given the deluge of customer data that’s appearing in social media today, it seems clear to most that a more efficient and effective way to measure brand consistency across multiple channels is a necessity. Few have time to crawl through five or even fifteen social networks looking for and analyzing comments and photos.

Fortunately, a fast emerging vertical in the hospitality analytics space is ORM, or online reputation management. There are a number of new firms (such as Revinate, newBrandAnalytics, and ReviewPro) that have appeared in the past few years that have looked at this problem of this massive amount of qualitative consumer comment data, and asked “How can we make sense of this to enable hospitality managers to understand what people are saying as well as to make better decisions?”

What they do is they capture consumer conversations across a range of social media channels. They then aggregate and even score this comment data to give marketers both a sense of what people are saying, and whether this they call sentiment is trending in a desired direction or not. Such intelligence generated by these and other online reputation management providers is an enormous leap in our ability to assess brand consistency. Not only in terms of the marketer generated brand messaging, but perhaps more importantly in terms of consumer generated messaging, and whether or not the two are aligned as intended.