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The Importance of Social Insight in Times of Crisis

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
18 September 2008

Guardian20080918 As we seem to be waking up to increasingly worse headlines every morning at the moment – Financial Meltdown this, Global Crisis that – it strikes me that monitoring mentions of your brand online (or Social Insight as I like to call it) is even more crucial than it has been previously. Whether you are a company that is struggling with the current climate or absolutely thriving, knowing what the consumer thinks about you can be a real competitive edge.

At Tamar we have a number of clients in the financial services industry, and several of them are already using our services to monitor and respond to social insight online. But I am surprised that more of them haven’t yet cottoned on to how useful this kind of knowledge can be. Here’s a few examples of conversations I picked up with the MoneySupermarket section of my dashboard this morning, relating to the news of the merger between Lloyds TSB and HBOS:

"HBOS merger with Lloyds TSB would be ‘bad news for consumers’" – a story being distributed by MoneySupermarket, picked up by 24dash
"The knock-on effect: who will be hit by the merger" – a piece from the Glasgow Herald, also including comment from MoneySupermarket
"London close: Footsie slumps as HBOS fightback fails" – news from the City AM column on the ups and downs of the day’s stock indices.
"TROUBLED mortgage giant HBOS confirmed today it was in advanced merger talks" – an article by the Sun from yesterday morning.
"HBOS – Lloyds TSB merger: mortgage rates to rise" – more news, this time from the Telegraph, with comment by MoneySupermarket.
"Teetering on the brink" – a piece appearing on MSN UK from Tuesday, foreshadowing the current crisis
"CRASH GOES WALL ST! Capitalism over the brink!" – a story from the Worker’s Revolutionary Party website, also from earlier in the week

Now the people of HBOS might not be worrying about brand reputation right at this very second – they have after all got more pressing issues on their mind – but you can be sure that at some point in the wake of these events it will come up on their agenda. If they have a social insight tool in place already, these mentions should all be getting collected and filed away for future analysis. However, if they haven’t they’re going to be limited to some back-dated Google news or technorati searches, and I can tell you from experience that a lot of these news sources won’t be picked up in those searches.

Tracking these mentions is good in hindsight, but it’s a lot more savvy to be prepared and start tracking yourself during a time of calm. As well as acting as a good benchmark, it allows you a bit more peace-of-mind in an otherwise stressful situation.

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