CEO Confidential

Expert Branding and ORM Tips with Michal Sadowski of Brand24

When someone searches for your name online, what will they find? In most cases, whatever Google serves up as the number one search result is going to be clicked on and read. If you aren’t currently ranked at number one for your name on Google, you simply have no control over the kind of first impression you’re making on others. Throw social media into the mix and you have a whole new world of more than two billion users who may not only be actively writing about you or your brand but also influence others as they go — in a good or bad light.

With all of this in mind, it’s extremely important to understand not only how to look better online but also to discover the many different ways to monitor, track and improve your online reputation in the process. Today, we are going to discuss this with Michał Sadowski, the CEO of Brand24. He’s created a platform that not only helps others manage & improve their online reputation, but also helps them understand where to look, how to respond, and how to increase brand loyalty in the process.

1 – Welcome Michał, can you please tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the world of reputation management and online brand monitoring? 

Thanks for having me! The main driving force behind starting Brand24 came from my experience using existing Web Monitoring / Social Listening platforms at my previous company. I hated them. They were far from user-friendly, inaccessible, expensive, and provided low-quality data. In other words, I could find more mentions manually.

Moreover, I’ve always been an admirer of Basecamp and the SaaS business model in general. I’m a huge fan of David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried. So, I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to create a SaaS tool for Web Monitoring and tap into the global market.

2 – With more than a billion active websites and blogs on the internet today, and another two billion plus users on social media, how are individuals and brands supposed to have any type of control over how they look online? 

Great question! One that directly speaks to a dilemma we solve. It’s our job to browse through billions of online mentions so that our users don’t have to. We find the mentions that really matter and make them accessible through our web dashboard and mobile app. For some brands, this means tens of thousands of mentions a day. We screen them for you and give you the most important ones. However, most of our customers get a few dozen mentions a day. Not a lot and easy to manage. It looks simple from the customer’s end, but trust me – this is a huge deal for our servers. Our servers currently operate at 20,000GB of RAM memory across 2300 CPUs. This is what it takes to collect billions of new mentions each month!

3 – We all know that Google is the number one source for information online. However, social media and mobile usage are still on the rise. What is the best way to approach these changing environments and ways audiences are finding information? 

Googling a product before a purchase feels natural these days, but there are more and more consumers who actively ask for peer recommendations via social. We like recommendations from other people, but we love recommendations from people we know. This is why we’ve been seeing a huge increase in posts like “what smartphone do you guys recommend?”, “what is the best korean restaurant in Austin?”, “what Instagram analytics tool do you guys use?”. In other words, posts that create marketing opportunities. Posts that can provide exposure for our businesses and generate sales. We’ve observed an increasing number of companies that are leveraging this new way of communicating with potential customers. It’s easy to project that brands interacting with potential customers on their profiles will quickly become the norm in the next few years.

4 – It’s one thing to ‘monitor’ name and brand mentions online, and it’s another to know how to respond. How does one learn the correct way to respond to each individual situation? (negative reviews, customer feedback, social attacks, etc). 

It’s hard to condense all the best practices in just a few paragraphs, but I would say the best tip is to “be your own biggest troll”. Look at any message you post, any PR release and feature announcement, as your greatest hater would. If you see any potential risks related to your response – address it. Address the elephant in the room on your own terms. Let’s say we have a customer who tried to reach us, but his message was somehow lost in our CRM. We find out days later he needed help. When we contact him, we put ourselves in his shoes. This is how we realize that offering him a refund is not enough. He lost more than money. He lost time. This is something we cannot give back, but we can address this up front. So then I’d write “Hi Jack, I’m very, very sorry for our late response. I know nothing will bring back the time you lost…?”

Some additional tips I would recommend for engaging your customers online is to use personal profiles. Not necessarily company profiles. Just as peer recommendations are much stronger than any brand communication, a reply with a human touch is much better than an anonymous representative hiding behind a company logo.

5 – Considering all that you’ve mentioned, how is Brand24 making the process of monitoring online brand mentions and reputation management easier? 

We allow you to see your first online mentions just minutes after visiting our site. It’s easy to try and easy to buy. No demos, no webinars (unless you want one), no long-term commitments.

Moreover, we’ve developed sophisticated data analysis algorithms that crunch the data for you and extract the most important mentions from all the available buzz out there. I know, “sophisticated algorithms” sounds like marketing BS that most tools will put on their websites to appear fancy. However, at Brand24, they really exist. And they will save you a lot of time.

6 – The internet is rapidly changing at all times and to think you can ever get ahead of it would be a huge mistake. At the same time, it’s always important to be prepared for the unexpected. What are your best recommendations for individuals and brands to best protect themselves and be ready for any unforeseen circumstances? 

It’s good to have all your team members share in the responsibility. This is where integration with platforms like Slack come in, and all the new mentions you pick up with social listening will appear in a channel where anyone can engage. All employees are brand ambassadors. In a way, they all represent your company to your customers. Making sure they operate based on the recommendations I mentioned above minimizes any risks.

Keep in mind that all brands and products have their f*ckups. The only thing that separates the brands we love from the ones we hate, is the way they manage these f*ckups and respond.

Special thanks to Michał for taking the time to share his expertise on the importance of web monitoring, and how to protect our personal and brand reputations online. Remember, it’s not just about having an online presence, it’s also about knowing how to monitor, track and protect it in the process. The more control you have over your search rankings and knowing when and where your brand is being mentioned, the better your reputation will be seen by others.

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Zac Johnson
Zac Johnson is an entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in the world of online marketing, business and branding.
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