Branding is an endless job. If you are in this field of work, then you can be sure that you will always have work to do. This is not to say that there is job security or that the job is going to be extra fun. Watching Olivia Pope on Scandal fixing companies’ and individuals’ reputation can make you think that the job is so easy.
Brand reputation management whether online or offline has never been simple and it is not exactly the most interesting of tasks. There are times that you will leave the office at hours you have probably never experience because you were trying to come up with a solution to your PR problems.
Online reputation management (ORM) is probably harder because you will be dealing with a vast world of information. The worldwide web is not limited to geographical boundaries. Your business could be located in a small village next to the Amazon River, but then someone in the neighborhood of China knows about it. This is the best thing about the internet. However, keeping track of what people are saying about your brand on the internet is not going to be an easy job at all. This is where ORM experts come in to save the day.
What is involved in ORM?
At the most basic level, reputation management on the internet is going to involve social media, blogs, microblogs and the search engines. What are people saying about you, your brand or your products on social media platforms? This is the first place that you should put into consideration. Social media is the route that most rumors (positive and negative) spread. Here is an example of social media working for brands. Beyonce is a brand on top of the fact that she is a person. Spreading the rumor that her latest album is about her husband’s cheating on social media has seen album sales reach unmentionable values.
Let’s go to the search engines- they are the biggest referral sites for all websites and blogs. People are going to search for content related to your business on Google, Bing and other search engines. Search engine mentions are also important in ORM.
One of the easiest ways to shame a company or an individual is through blog posts and microblogging sites like Twitter. The blogs are going to write about your business and it is going to be shared around. Take for instance CNN’s encounter with a group on Twitter known as Kenyans on Twitter. CNN had reported that Kenya (a country in East Africa) is a hotbed of terror a week prior to US president Obama’s visit. This angered the Kenyans and Twitter and CNN had to apologize extensively.
CNN is an established brand though and this is a minor PR issue that can be rectified quite easily. The blog posts created concerning your brand can be extremely horrible. Recovering from such can be extremely difficult. However, with fantastic ORM strategies in place you will not have to grapple with such issues.
The best thing about online reputation management is that there are very many routes that you can take to do it. Just like there are many ways your online reputation can be damaged, there are many ways to prevent the damage. Preventive strategies might vary from one brand to another one. Nonetheless, there are some that have been proven to work for all. These include:
#1. Automated monitoring
This is the best thing that you can do for your brand. Do not waste time going through social media feeds and looking for blogs that are mentioning your brand. You can set up Google and Bing alerts for your brand. This includes everything from name to products that you have. You will receive email updates whenever this information is a searched online. In turn, you will able to able to keep a very accurate and up-to-date assessment of your company’s online image. These alerts might not be as comprehensive and that is why you will need the tools for the job.
#2. Use several reputation-monitoring tools
There are so many tools available for online reputation monitoring. A majority of them are free and even those that you will have to pay for are not all that expensive. There are tools like WhosTalkin, Social Mention, Rankur and Technorati which help to keep track of online mentions. WhosTalking for instance will provide you with a detailed evaluation of all online mentions including social mentions, search engine mentions as well as images and videos that are marked with your branded keywords.
#3. Provide an avenue for customers to vent
You should give your customers the opportunity to vent and complain about your brand. This could be your blog, website, email and even a brand forum. Creating a forum for your brand where your customers can interact with each other is going to be helpful to both you and them. You will get insight on how your customers perceive your products and what they think should be altered.
The other alternative is to let them go to sites like Yelp and RippedOff. You will not want them to share issues about your brand on these sites. Such a move might require you to go for large scale disaster management.
#4. Encourage positive reviews respond to negative ones
Always encourage your customers to review your brand. They should let the world know what they like about your brand and/or products. This does not mean that you should not appreciate the negative reviews. Never take the negative reviews as a personal attack. They are often genuine concerns from your customers. Taking them into consideration is going to help improve the quality of your brand.
Prevention is better (and easier) than cure. Reputation management is not the easiest of jobs but then with the right tool and strategies in place you should not struggle. Online reputation management has been made so much easier by the myriad of tools available for the job.
Images: ” Brande Reputation: people divided in 2 sections with opposite opinions about a product / Shutterstock.com“
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