Online Reputation Management is the practice of understanding the sentiments for an individual, brand or business and then addressing contents which are damaging to it on the web. Most of reputation management strategies is focused on reducing the negativity about a brand online.
As CxOs, executives and managers of a brand or business or company, the biggest dilemma that you would face is ‘what to do about my company/brand reputation online?’ Some of you would be oblivious to what your customers and the marketplace is saying about your brands whereas some of you who know, are in a fix on how to communicate back in the best possible way. Some of you would be finding it hard to deal with motivated dissatisfied customers blogging about negative issues and soliciting followers for themselves. Yet, a few of you would be scouting for a way to reply to the compliments that you received for a good service that you provided.
To find the solution, let us try to understand the root of the problem. Let us understand the different elements of the ecosystem of online brand reputation.
Social Media Presence
With every second person on the planet spending at-least two and half hours daily ‘liking’, ‘following’, ‘tweeting’, ‘sharing’ etc.; it becomes very obvious that a brands have a huge target audience that they can tap into, to market their product. The socially active, engaging & communicating brands will surely be much more influential and garner appreciation from customers. Today, these platforms have replaced the channel of word of mouth where people don’t call but they tweet, like or share their experiences at the click of a button.
Websites with User Generated Content
With the increase importance of websites like Quora.com, forums will become an important control location to showcase one’s brand. Remember, these websites are not marketing billboards but an information sharing & community-generated knowledge sharing website. Working within these limits on such platforms would help in boosting online positivity.
A professional network is a type of social network that is entirely made for interactions and relationships of a business nature. And since, ‘business’ is what a brand/company wants; it becomes unavoidable to be not present on these platforms. The most popular and no-nonsense platform as of today is LinkedIn. It is also one of the most beloved social platforms for the search engines after Wikipedia for searches related to individuals.
Communication with Dissenters
For any business, there would some dissenters, who at some stage, did not find a service or product satisfactory. With the increased popularity of social platforms and review sites, customers tend to vent out their dissatisfaction in public. This could wreak havoc for the brand in question, since these platforms have high visibility & high traction. Every brand needs to incorporate five words as a part of their ORM strategy – Listen, Engage, Accept, Be Transparent and Monitor
Perception via Search Engine
On the top level, search engines are today the main channel through which people reach your brand and thus have a majority share of how any brand is perceived online. They provide information that is relevant to your name, company, brand, and marketplace when a search occurs. The driving force behind search is not to provide perfect content about your topic but the most authentic & informative content. This makes it imperative to monitor the search engines for such type of information for at-least your brand name.
Knowledge Sharing Initiatives
Online audience has been ever evolving in terms of what they are searching online. The average monthly viewership & readership of news websites and blogs have been ever increasing. Every business should aim and strive to share knowledge & information at-least about their own products via various ways like blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars etc. which will retain interest as well as increase knowledge value to the reader.
In the end, every business or a company is unique in its own right and needs to weigh what strategy is best for itself; because one wrong step - both you and your business end up on the hot seat facing potential fire-storms.