The Internet is a vast, unregulated community of 3.4 billion people and it has both useful and challenging sides. The free availability of information plays an important and, often, positive role. However, this also means information that disparages you and may affect your image is there for all to see. This could have an impact on your business and prove to a turn-off for those who would want to deal with you.
Thus, your online reputation management matters. What people discover when they Google your company’s name is affecting their decisions to do business with your organization?
The large number of online tools that people use to publish their opinions — social networking sites, consumer feedback channels, blogs and forums being some of the available options — make it difficult to track your brand perception. Poor and biased reviews can damage your brand perception, garnering adverse publicity for your products. Not only this, companies that have their own social media sites require a proper procedure and therefore need a thorough social media management plan. This is because if proper social media marketing is not in place, it becomes detrimental to the online image of the company.
The intention is not to deal with everyone who posts a negative comment but to build a solid reputation. The process often involves managing and monitoring your digital profile as well as the “public” aspect of your online presence. This can be achieved through careful online reputation management, or companies can also adhere to ORM services. A lack of public participation on your website does not mean that the rest of the web is not discussing you. The idea is to step into the large opinion pool as an arbitrator of your image.
Avoid bad press at all costs
A few startling facts highlight how important it is to maintain a credible reputation on the Internet. Around a billion names are looked up daily on search engines, research suggests. One of these names could most easily be yours. Moreover, those searching could be not only the average citizen but also Fortune 500 companies. What they see in comments and posts on online forums and social networks is what they would more readily believe.
Incredibly, more than 70% of people trust strangers’ reviews to make purchase decisions. This gives you all the more reason to monitor (and possibly manage) online search results. While positive search results would naturally lead to more fruitful business associations, negative reviews could hurt your brand perception and, consequently, derail your chances of growing your business.
Natural Allies – Branding and Online Reputation Management
Branding has always been the buzzword in the market landscape.The aim of the exercise is to create strong associations with your brand in the minds of consumers.
Cola majors Pepsi and Coca-Cola have taken branding to a whole new level on the Internet. Both companies spend large sums of money every year in the hope of becoming the ultimate cola brand on the Web. Their advertisements rarely try direct selling of the product. Instead, they make the brand name stronger. The effort is directed at creating an association between the provider and the product. This shows that branding helps to maintain the reputation in every digital medium. After all, reputation frequently is crucial for business. Maintaining a credible reputation is about using your brand as a vehicle to trigger online buzz. Companies, these days, all around the world provide excellent ORS services which can be availed by organizations to lessen their worries about proper online brand management and social media management.
Don’t ignore your Offline activities either
Time and effort need to be invested in maintaining a credible reputation and achieving social media optimization. Tracking online chatter, using tools such as Google Trends, is a necessary process. Even then, you must remember that negative feedback is inevitable.
Creating a great online presence broadly involves two steps: finding out how your target groups spend time while surfing the Internet and then evolving strategies to engage them using the channels that they prefer by improvising on value.
Starbucks, for example, streamlined their rewards program on their smartphone app and tied it to the physical card with real-time rewards. This the café chain did to overcome competition. The aim was achieved by engaging Twitter followers in their market landscape, including by sending best-of-luck messages to student patrons before their exams and encouraging people to try Starbucks-themed nail art.
To help customers stay in the café instead of opting for the takeaway service, they also offer perks like free Wi-Fi. For their offline branding, they have a red cup that rings every year in the holidays. The company has also featured winners of some contests on promotional posters as a means of creating engagement.
Why does it matter?
As the Internet becomes more pervasive, customers will become likelier first to encounter a brand online. Even if a brand is noticed in an offline space, it would soon be followed by an online search. In such a scenario, it makes sense to take an integrated approach to brand and online reputation management. This is an approach that is seamless across all platforms, even as appropriate links are maintained between the digital and physical presence of the brand.
Author Bio: Reeya Bose is a research and communication expert at a global research firm that conducts business research and provides online reputation management services. She helps firms gain actionable insights based on technology and best practices, thorough, detailed market study and analysis.