Online Reputation Management is the process that lets you control and manage the online presence of a person, brand, or company. ORM looks after protecting and monitoring the reputation. It deals with crisis management and recovery of reputation. ORM is needed because, as per statistics, 88 percent of consumers prefer searching online for a product or service before the final purchase.
Online Reputation Management is a conscious practice to shape public opinion about a brand or organization by influencing its online presence.
A brand’s online reputation holds a lot of significance because this is what builds faith in customers, employers, and investors. If a brand builds its trust, it will surely grow in terms of business and witness an increase in ROI.
ORM helps in maintaining a brand’s image. Therefore, it must start investing in building its digital presence and reputation so that brands don’t have to suffer from public relations crises. Usually, brands don’t give importance to ORM apart from critical situations due to a lack of the industry’s effort in describing the need for online reputation management and when one should invest in it.
Online Reputation Management (ORM)- An Introduction
The Online Reputation Management process involves managing the content to maintain Google’s first page to cater to search queries related to brands. Managing content also involves publishing and optimizing content.
Crucial ORM strategies will revolve around Social Media Marketing, review management, public relations, SEO, and all the tactics related to customer service.
ORM is a part of Search Engine Optimization. The main reason behind ORM being a part of SEO is that a brand always needs to prioritize what is visible to customers when they search for it.
Also, the first page on Google primarily controls how people perceive a brand. Researchers claim that around 98 percent of searchers don’t make an effort to move to Google’s second page. Therefore, it becomes important to understand how important it is to control the first page on Google because it will display before people or stakeholders search for your brand.
ORM is a multi-channel process and to improve customers’ perception of a brand, it is also crucial to managing all the channels equally.
The categories of these ORM channels are given below:
Owned media includes all the online property that a brand controls, including its website, blogs, and pages on third-party websites.
There is an urgent need to position more controllable web pages on the search engine’s first page. The popular search engines are- Google, Bing, or Yahoo. If you can display controllable web pages, you will effortlessly control your brand’s Online Reputation Management.
Your brand gets a lot of free attention and exposure from third-party platforms such as Press Coverage, Articles, Blogs, Forums (Quora and Reddit), and uncontrolled review sites (Google and Yelp). Earned media is a vital part of ORM because positive reviews and brand mentions can help gain trust for a brand before its audience and even Google starts giving high ranking once they see positive signals for off-page. It will provide more authority and trustworthiness to the brand.
Shared media is a type of content marketing that generally revolves around the interaction between brands and audiences.
Social media is an effective channel of marketing under shared media. Other channels are forums, blogs, or even email marketing.
If we talk about social media, even though you may own it, you still have a chance of receiving comments and reviews that could be either positive or negative.
Therefore, it is essential to check on the social media channels and their comments concerning your brand. If your brand consists of various negative reviews or comments, you will damage your brand reputation with lasting repercussions. Therefore, you must connect with ORM service providers after thoroughly monitoring your online presence. The online reputation management providers will need to quickly reach out to a solution for the negative reviews or feedback.
Paid media consists of all channels and digital platforms where you are required to pay to display the brand’s features. These could be display ads, sponsored content, Google ads, Microsoft ads, native ads, LinkedIn, and social media ads.
Paid media allows you to reinforce how you would want your brand’s story to appear but this is the least trusted channel among the owned and earned media. The reason is that the audience demand search results as compared to advertisements.
Significance of reputation management
Three key reasons that are contributing to reputation management’s significance are as follows:
- 85 percent of consumers give equal importance to online reviews and word of mouth.
- Most consumers will choose a business or brand based on their five-star rating. This percentage goes above 90 percent.
- 82 percent of consumers attach importance to negative reviews and are less likely to choose a business with negative reviews.
A lousy brand reputation will undoubtedly impact consumers’ mindsets. Customers purposefully search for brand reviews and check and make decisions based on their information.
A brand’s reputation is worth all the effort
With social media all over the world, it is really easy for things to go viral in a matter of a few mins. This could be damaging to your brand if any negative event takes place associated with your brand.
For instance, in 2017, United Airlines crew members forcefully tried to take a passenger out of the plane. This incident went viral as it was recorded. Over 100 million people viewed it. As a result, the incident proved destructive for United Airlines and it lost billions in terms of market value.
How does brand reputation impact sales?
ORM and sales directly connect because consumers tend to research search engines about businesses and brands before purchasing. These types of consumers account for 53 percent.
Consecutive negative reviews about your business will only lead your potential customers to buy from your competitors because they will not be able to trust your business.
On the contrary, if they come across several positive reviews one after the other, they will start trusting you and purchase from you. They will even become loyal to your brand.
53 percent of buyers or consumers conduct research before they pay for a business.
Caring about the customer’s feedback
Managing your online reputation will also require you to get customer feedback as it will be precious for the improvement of your products and services. Working toward improving customers’ experience is important.
Conducting regular polls and services is a great way to improve a company’s reputation. You should never overlook feedback that is given by customers voluntarily as this could turn things for the better with regard to your company.
Many people feel Online Reputation Management is needed only when a brand goes through a crisis. It is vital to work toward preventing any sort of negative review or feedback from being displayed on the internet because things go viral quickly. This could be harmful to your business or brand.
ORM’s role for enterprises
The ORM firms generally emphasize personal branding for individuals or cater to local business listings. If enterprises make mistakes, millions of people will get affected. To elaborate on this further, you can imagine if there is a technical breakdown on your website for about two hours. An enterprise will be massively affected and this will even spread all over the news channels. However, customers for small businesses might not even notice this breakdown.
The two hours will turn your business upside down for an enterprise-level such as Facebook and Slack. Imagine something that hurts your customer, it could also be a careless act on the part of the company executive. Can you imagine your website being taken over by hackers and your customer data leaked?
Enterprises will face a huge disruption if any such thing happens and its impact will last long.
ORM’s role for executives
Founders or CEOs are nowadays attached to the brands and vice versa. This is specifically true if there exists a compelling story of a company. Looking at Tesla or Space X will make you realize that these two are unimaginable without mentioning Elon Musk.
Not just his brands, he too has grown into a brand name by narrating his own story. He is also popularly known as “The real-life Iron man”. Even though a CEO might not want the attention yet he will gain popularity because of his brand. With social media on the rise, CEOs are increasingly becoming famous.
A CEO’s code of conduct holds a lot of value before customers. Any misconduct on their part can raise many eyebrows and can lead to the brand’s destruction.
This is why the reputation of the CEO is also essential and managing his reputation will also bring visibility and success to an organization. How the public perceives him and how profitable it is going to be will depend largely upon the perception of the stakeholders or consumers about them.
Best ORM techniques for brands
There are several techniques for impactful Online Reputation Management of a brand. The best ones are given below:
1. Conducting a Brand Audit
A Brand Audit is a reality check to assess the position of a brand including its strengths and weaknesses. A brand audit must cover the essential areas- values, mission, and company culture. A brand audit will also evaluate the brand’s online presence- social media accounts, website, blogs, and any other third-party business profiles. You need to check and analyze the Google search results thoroughly. What you will need to assess is whether you see any negative results, are there too many articles or news, or brand assets that aren’t easy to control.
2. Assessing the brand mentions
Monitoring the brand mentions will prove effective in managing the brand. What you can do is use alerts related to any brand mentions, or any other related keywords so that you can respond quickly whenever anything negative or positive comes up. These mentions could come anywhere be it your social media, blogs, videos, forums, etc.
How much time a brand takes to respond to any negative feedback, comment, or review also holds great importance. If a company makes a genuine effort ins solve a customer’s query or complaint, they’re more likely to forgive the company for the mistake.
3. Responding to negative reviews
Responding to negative reviews by customers is a great way to show them that you care about their needs. It is indeed challenging to face negative feedback or comments, but running away from them will only give your brand a bad name. While if you choose to bravely respond to them, you will be able to form an authentic and solid bond with your customers. If their complaints are genuine and they’re having real problems then you’ll have the golden opportunity to help them out with some real solutions. Once you gain a customer’s trust, he or she will remain loyal to your services. You must ensure that you respond to any sort of review and show your gratefulness toward their feedback.
What is noteworthy is the fact that simply giving discounts doesn’t make customers come to you. A customer might come once but if he goes through a negative experience he is least likely to return. Any brand to push off their limits and help their customers with genuine intentions.
4. Role of SEO in Online Reputation Management
In general, SEO ranks different pages on a single website for a wide range of search queries. In terms of ORM, SEO has a different role to play. It is used to rank various websites for common queries related to the brands. Consequently, you will easily replace negative results with more positive ones.
An effective SEO strategy for a brand will be to optimize controllable web pages for proper brand-related keywords.
You will also need to keep the follow the following SEO strategies for ORM:
- Ensuring that the content you create is meaningful and provides some value for better reviews and other pages of leadership.
- For your key pages to rank on Google’s first page, you will need to build backlinks.
- You will need to conduct digital PR, sponsorships, events, and influencer marketing to receive positive brand mentions.
- Ensure that your brand stays active on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- Make sure you do optimize third-party profiles that are relevant to your brand. These could be Google My Business, Yelp, and Trustpilot. You should also focus on other business profiles where you can easily control content.
5. Focus on Public Relations
Public relations can quickly turn Online Reputation Management in your favor. Existing excellent public relations will eventually create positive press for a brand. This press might take several forms- Press releases, Branded events, CEOs’ interviews, Podcast appearances, Live sessions, Charitable events, Co-marketing with other industry brands, Statements referring to a company’s mistakes in the public, Charitable events, and high-quality website Guest Posts.
6. The need to encourage customers to give reviews
Customer reviews hold great significance for Google and even influence the decisions of other potential customers. Customers might not always give reviews or feedback voluntarily, but you can still simply ask them for reviews.
You might use the following methods to encourage customers to provide their valuable feedback through reviews:
- Direct communication regarding reviews by sending emails to the customers.
- Impart them with the right information on where and how they can write a review.
- Tempt them with interesting discount offers or incentives if they write a review.
- Reply to all reviews by your customer so that they feel how much their feedback matters.
- Tell your customers about the authentic review sites and ask them to write reviews.
Improve your relationship with your customers by motivating them to write reviews and show them that their feedback matters.
7. Developing and encouraging positive content
Focus on encouraging the content that supports your brand in a more positive way. You can promote positive content using the following techniques:
- Emphasizing testimonials and reviews by displaying them on the website.
- Share positive reviews on social media by showing thankfulness to the reviewer.
- Partner with influencers to promote your brand through content.
- Re-share any content which has mentioned you in a favorable way.
- Promote any collaborated activities with other brands and individuals.
Best ORM tools to use
Online Reputation Management is extremely time-consuming. It takes effort and time to invest in ORM because it involves proper tracking and monitoring. Here are a few effective ORM tools to monitor to improve brand perception:
Buzzsumo is an effective tool to check the popularity of any content. It also informs you about who shared the content and the location from which it was shared.
It allows users to specifically search for content on the web including brand names or typical brand terms.
Reputology is a platform enabling businesses to manage their reviews. It also gives your brand the opportunity to track online reviews on different platforms and also lets you reply to those reviews.
It also lets you conduct customer polling at regular intervals during the customer’s journey to make sure that the problems don’t prolong.
You can access the Google Alerts tool for free. It provides you with a chance to track any brand mention, brand name, product name, keywords, or competitors.
Birdeye is a highly effective ORM tool suitable for enterprises. It is a toll with a lot of potential because it gives the chance to ask customers for reviews and also reply to those reviews on more than 150 sites.
This is a great way to collect more positive reviews and even reply to the negative ones quickly.
Meltwater is a multi-channel brand reputation platform used for monitoring various sources such as online news, print media, podcasts, social media review sites, etc. It also supports social influencer management platforms to recognize influencers and also carry on with reputation management campaigns.
BrandMentions focus on how your brand is being perceived and who all are interested in your brand. These cater to a variety of social channels and also blogs, news, and review sites.
You can also become aware of those who are interested in your competitors and the kind of reputation management strategies they have been using.
Mention is also an excellent way to analyze social media and conversations about the brand online. You can dig deeper and gain insights about all those talking about your brand and the topic of discussions concerning your brand. This tool will help create trending content in your industry among your audience, and it will also bridge the communication gap with the option of directly responding through social media.
Social Mention is a tool that can allow you to insert a term and provide you with various search options. It will display search blogs, blogs, microblogs, and images from the past day. The filtering system is detail-oriented, so it will be effortless to find out about all the discussions about your brand.
What to seek while hiring an Online Reputation Management company?
Before you finally decide on hiring an Online Reputation Management company, you should ensure that the company you work with is aware of google and its working. It would help you if you did this because a low reputation as per Google will impact sales, hiring, retention, and investor confidence. Before deciding you should also keep the following key points in mind:
- Think about whether you have a successful working history with big enterprises.
- Think about whether you have clarity related to privacy, security, and data management systems.
- Think about whether you have a successful record of sustainable results, not just temporary results.
- Think about whether you have customers who can act as a reference.
- Also, reflect on the number of years you have been in the business.
Reflecting on the above-mentioned points will surely help you choose the right ORM service-providing company.