With the vast majority of consumers researching purchases on the internet, it’s no surprise that so many companies are making online reputation management a chief marketing focus. Failure to consistently, thoroughly, and accurately monitor and analyze your brand could keep your company from reaching its potential – or, worse, cause serious damage to your brand.

There are scores of online reputation management tools and services out there. This series is intended to provide you with some guidance as you consider your options.

We spoke with Rowe Digital’’s Founder & CEO, Kevin Rowe, to ask his thoughts on how companies should choose an online reputation management tool or service. His response is broken up over four short articles (this is the first and we’ll be adding the following with links from this article soon):

Part 1:  Why You Need BOTH Automated and Human Analysis

Part 2:  Monitoring Multiple Brands, Keywords, Companies, and Competitors

Part 3:  Feature Comparison: What You Need and What You Don’t

Part 4:  Price is Important! Choose a Tool that is Cost-effective and Robust

Automated vs. Human Analysis in Online Reputation Management (ORM)

A combination of automated and human analysis works best for online reputation management.

A combination of automated and human analysis works best for online reputation management.

The type of tool you select to help monitor your online reputation matters. Below Kevin Rowe discusses why a hybrid automated-human system is desirable for the best possible results.

Interviewer:    So, you think it’s important that companies use a hybrid tool that combines automated algorithmic analysis with human analysis of online reputation?

Kevin:     Definitely. There are major strengths and weaknesses of both methods, but when you combine the two they work quite well together.

Interviewer:     What do you feel are the strengths of automated analysis?

Kevin:      Algorithmic analysis offers a ton of benefits. To sum up the big ones, it allows managers to monitor their brands and competitors very thoroughly and consistently in a fraction of the time it would take to do it without an automated tool. You could have a team of people devoted full time to the tasks involved in the monitoring process but with an automated ORM tool, one manager can get the same insight in minutes.

Interviewer:     And what about human analysis? If automated is so great, why do companies need it?

Kevin:     You never want to do any kind of sentiment analysis without some form of strategic human review. This helps to ensure accuracy. Only humans truly understand the nuances of tone and complexities of the English language. Machine learning and algorithms are up to 60% accurate, but the addition of human analysis brings that up above 90%.

Interviewer:     Are there any risks involved in using only automated analysis when analyzing a company’s online reputation?

Kevin:     Sure. The first that comes to mind is the fact that in many cases Google is tailoring search results to be unique to each user. This means that some users will be seeing different content than what is reflected in the tool. If your analysis isn’t based on the actual content your target audience is seeing, there is no point. But there are ways humans can get around this – if they know how.

Interviewer:  What about human analysis? Any risks to solely using this method?

Kevin:     It would be a very inefficient approach. To be truly thorough and consistent would demand more time than any brand manager has available. Subjectivity of the reviewer is also an issue that could lead to inconsistent results. Plus, if the person in charge of the analysis doesn’t have a great deal of industry experience, they may be unable to interpret technical content.

Interviewer:     So this is not a task that can be performed by just anyone? Say an intern?

Kevin:     Absolutely not. It’s too important. If companies don’t get it right it could literally break them. It’s really important to make sure the person analyzing your reputation has the right experience, knowledge, and skills. It’s not something you want to take care of in house if you don’t have the appropriate talent. And, like anything, as more and more companies are demanding these services, more and more agencies will be jumping on board, trying to provide them, whether they have the skills or not. You need to be careful when considering your options.

Interviewer:  How does a hybrid system work exactly? Where does the human analysis piece fit in?

Kevin:     Subscribers pay a monthly fee to have access to the analytical tools. The provider of the tool also has highly skilled analysts on staff who carefully review everything and prepare accurate reports.

Interviewer:  How do you recommend people get started with comparing tools?

Kevin:     Just get in touch with some companies. If they want to learn more about Rowe Digital, they can contact us any time or request a demo. We love talking to new companies about how to better manage their online reputation and overcome specific challenges.