Information is power, but the internet has taken things to a whole new level. Everyone’s a publisher these days and stories can get viral within hours, reaching millions of people.
While brands love such massive publicity and exposure, the unprecedented speed at which information flows today makes reputation management a nightmare. The smallest mistake online, even a typo (yes, covfefe) can have a lasting impact for weeks, if not months.
Given all this, Online Reputation Management or ORM, is more crucial now than ever if you want your brand to grow and survive against fierce competition. Keep in mind that effective reputation management takes time and dedication. Publishing a blog here and a tweet there aren’t enough these days.
While you can always hire experts to get the job done, here are five crucial tips to get you started with ORM today.
#1 Be Active on Social Media and “Communicate”
This sounds like a no-brainer but so many brands do social media all wrong. It’s not a one-sided medium, it doesn’t work like traditional media (TV, newspaper, magazines etc). Rather, it’s a two-way channel intended for actual communication.
Don’t just be posting updates and broadcasting announcements on your social channels. If you want customers to care for your brand, you need to start communicating with them and engaging them.
A lot of small business owners think they don’t really need to put effort into social communication but they can’t be more wrong.
Publish fun, but relevant posts now and then and interact with your customers and followers in the comments section for instance. In other words, don’t be a stranger. Remember that this is not a crash diet; it’s a healthy lifestyle change you have to make if you want your brand to truly excel.
#2 Listen for Feedback
Social media platforms are a Godsend for brands looking to gather information and data. You can virtually track mentions of your brand in real time and that’s a big help if you’re really listening.
There are several tracking tools available today. You can use Google Alerts to set triggers for certain terms and names associated with your brand. This way, any time someone mentions you or your brand, whether positively or negatively, you get notified and can act quickly.
Given how fast word spreads on social channels, the timing of your response is crucial in saving the day or letting a single complaint hurt your business in the long term.
A useful trick here is to track mentions for your competitors as well. Any time someone mentions something negative about your competition is an opportunity for you to jump in and get the last word.
#3 Focus on Building Advocates
There is only so much you can say about yourself. Nothing works better than genuine testimonials when it comes to reputation building. Assuming you have satisfied customers, you should devise activities that encourage them to provide their feedback and share their experiences with others.
A good way to do that is to send a gentle email reminder after a few days, requesting them to share their feedback if they enjoyed your service/product.
Running contests and giving bonus points for people who leave reviews is also something you can look into. The basic idea here is to create advocates for your brand — customers who recommend you to others.
#4 Leverage Your Employees
When it comes to brand advocacy, don’t forget your own employees. They can be essential to contributing to your online reputation management — both positively and negatively. Nowadays portals like Glassdoor and Trustpilot are critical in giving potential customers and employees an overview of your organization and brand.
A lot of negative reviews on these portals can drive away both customers and employees, which is why you need to foster a sense of responsibility in your existing employees to present a healthy but honest image of your organization to the outside world.
#5 Utilize Content Marketing
Content Marketing is not just useful for acquiring customers and driving sales. It is essential for proper reputation management as well. Brands that are successful make sure they get their voice out there and let the world know about their stands on issues that impact their existing and potential customers.
An example would be how Tim Cook expressed his views on government policies, a step that sent a strong message to followers of Apple about the company’s stance on important matters.
While you don’t necessarily need to publish a critical piece on President Trump’s policies, you can start small and highlight local issues and spread awareness about relevant activities and programs that help your local community and so on. Just be wary of spouting controversial views that could backfire and damage your reputation.
In essence, online reputation management is about being receptive and proactive rather than waiting for things to happen and reacting to them. Try to engage your potential and existing client base on social mediums and be honest and genuine in your communication. There is no magic pill for ORM, but following the tips above you should be able to get the ball rolling in a positive direction.
Feel free to comment below and let us know what you think about ORM and share any tips and strategies you think we may have missed.