Online Reputation management is a measure of how your brand is performing in the online space. It is an indicator of how well your brand speaks to its consumers on the online platform, for search engine rankings, interaction on social media platforms, online ratings, reviews, and mentions.
A company’s reputation is the foundation of how well a company is performing in terms of its rapport with its users and lays the ground for how it will flourish and grow over time. Therefore, inarguably online reputation management becomes one of the most vital components of a business during its phase of escalation.
When do you need it?
It takes years to build a brand and its reputation, but mere seconds to bring it to dust. Now, with the internet boom at its peak, the consumers have a wide platform to speak up and be heard. It’s a platform that is open to everyone to voice out their opinions, experiences, and ideas. While, at on hand, it can prove to be an absolute boon, it comes with its share of risks and cons. Numerous brand examples can be quoted, where customer interactions and the company’s response to these have helped either build or break the brand in the matter of a few moments. Customer comments on popular networks can catch on really fast, and it wouldn’t always be the case that these outbursts are fair to the company. However, it is important for businesses to learn how to handle such situations, and most important of all, how to avoid these in the first place.
Businesses usually go for online brand management once after the damage is done, seeking corrective actions. However, due to the lack of awareness in this domain, what we don’t realize is that Online Reputation Management (ORM) is an on-going process which starts from Day 1 of the inception. Let’s take a look at what ORM encapsulates and how to go about it.
How to: Online Reputation Management
The first step is to be aware of the online brand presence. Google alerts is a handy tool that helps you understand the extent of your presence on online platforms. You can easily monitor your brand in a click, with brand mentions coming from news articles, blogs or simply social media comments. This tool will also help you get a clear idea of how strongly your brand resonates with the online customer base.
There are plenty of other tools that will help you evaluate your presence on multiple platforms, covering the basics. Twitter is another platform that easily helps you locate your mentions, via the Twitter search tool. It gives you the flexibility to dive deeper into the details of these mentions, giving you the exact usage feed you will need.
Social mention is another useful website that helps you understand your footprint on social media. You can set your profile to receive real-time alerts on these platforms, so you can be on your toes always.
Now that you are well aware of how your brand is placed in the online sphere, the next step is to make your presence felt. The best metrics to get a clear idea on how well you are present is by the first page of google search results when searching for your company name. To break it down to basics, it is a mandate that the top results on the first page need to be owned by you. There have been several instances, wherein typing the name of a company brings about top search results of their direct competitors. This can prove to be detrimental to your brand and its business directly.
To ensure this happens, ensure your website is well linked to each other, with backend links supporting the pages. Content is a strong tool to help bring your pages on the top search. All search engines feed on strong content and high content activity. A blog can prove handy in such cases. Make a blog and keep it updated, with the use of strong keywords to make your webpage relevant to the searches.
Online presence doesn’t just restrict to blogs and webpages. You need to be present where the audience is! Social media comes to play a major role here. Make your brand pages on all leading social media platforms, and keep updating them with relevant content to interact with your consumers/ viewers. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Quora are a few platforms that you’d not want to miss out on.
Online presence and the open dialogue between the consumers can be a great way of drawing insight as to what your target audience perceives you as. Is your strategy relevant to your vision? Are your actions being accepted by your consumers in the right way? Keep your eyes and ears open for any activity around your brand and listen to what your audience has to say about you.
While it is important to listen, it is equally important to react as well. All social media platforms allow a dual communication channel, therefore, it is critical that you respond to all comments and activities to ensure your reputation is not being compromised. Historically, there are two ways that have been adopted by companies that did not go down well on their reputation- aggressiveness, and ignorance. Both these extremes are an absolute no!
Google reviews and Quora questions are two major platforms where consumers leave comments directly to the business. Ensure you are prompt to revert, in a humble and sensible manner. Be open to criticism, which provides a solution to the highlighted concern. Accepting mistakes and apologizing can go down a long way in building a good reputation for the brand, too.
There can be cases when reviews are posted which are unfair and incorrect. Do not ignore such reviews and take immediate corrective action. A few ways to go about such a situation can be as follows:
- Contact the individual posting the review and politely ask them to take down the review while clarifying the concern raised
- In case of an incorrect review, you may contact the web platform to take down the review on grounds of cascading unfair information
- If the post steps beyond its legal realms, you may contact Google to take down the post basis non-compliance with the Google guidelines
Online Reputation Management is an absolute essential for brands to ensure their long term sustenance while creating a good word amongst its users. Therefore, it is vital that all businesses set up an ORM mechanism right from the beginning. Most businesses opt for ORM as a damage control procedure, rather than as a discipline to maintain and protect their brands.
It is recommended that in case you are not well equipped with the ORM tools and process, you seek help and hire someone who can help set up a foolproof system for your business. In the vulnerable online environment it is important to protect your business and its reputation, so be proactive in rolling out an ORM mechanism for your brand and secure it from any potential damage!