Learning from experience

How do corporates influence what people think about them?

There’s a huge conversation going on. Millions of people worldwide are exchanging views, voicing opinions, sharing their likes and dislikes, making friends. In the midst of this mass communication the reputations of organisations are being made and unmade.

So how does a large corporation influence what’s being said about it in this new arena?

Embrace the spirit of the age - openess

That doesn’t mean giving trade secrets away, its more a recognition of the environment in which business is being carried out. PepsiCo International recently joined the conversation by launching a website that is engaging to all visitors. Content is kept fresh and relevant by being updated and added by PepsiCo teams.

Understand what people need from you

A clear understanding of your users, who they are and what they want to achieve through you is the foundation of successful online communication. The ICI website gives users the opportunity to customise content, to receive relevant information according to the type of user they are and provides journalists with a toolkit.

Open channels of communication

Create new and interesting ways for your users to communicate with you, this can lead to insight and innovation. Thames Water offer their customers several different levels of online support and ways of getting in touch and influencing their content and service.

Create a total user experience

Every aspect of the online interaction - navigation, tone of voice, search etc should reflect the brand vision. Where messages, graphics and processes (that work elsewhere) are rigidly applied online, the result can weaken your brand. Google is rated No 1 in the BrandZ Top 100 most powerful brands in the world produced by Millward Brown, the user experience is their brand.

Don’t stand still

Internet users, that includes staff, are learning new things and adopting new behaviours all the time. Listen to what they’re saying and respond or they’ll leave you behind. J Sainsbury site includes webcasts for investors, information made available on mobiles and PDAs and an interactive in-store experience that explains their environmental vision.

This article appeared in Moot 02, September 2008.