Online reputation management (ORM) basically means controlling what shows up about your business during online searches, to better the perceptions about your business. It has gained more importance than ever in the past two years, where the online presence of your business would be its only window to potential customers, clients, senior executives, and partners. 80% of customers do an online search of the brand before proceeding, studies show, while a significant percentage takes decisions based on the reviews they see online. Thus, it's a no-brainer that a strong and positive online presence leads to more sales than all other modes of marketing today, regardless of the size of the brand.
Online reputation management involves a combination of different strategies, including SEO, addressing negative reviews, promoting positive reviews, defending your company against reputational risks, promoting blogs with backlinks to your site as well as paid marketing.
The most visible part of these are reviews online which have as much value as word-of-mouth publicity of the past. These reviews could be in the form of comments, photos, and videos on the site as well as on social media. Most such reviews would be a mix of negative, positive and neutral feedback. While one cannot hope for 100 percent positive reviews, an overall positive impression is good enough, as there will always be a small percentage of unreasonable haters who will stick to negative reviews.
The way forward is to constantly track the results and keep experimenting with your strategies. Begin by conducting a search of your brand using an incognito window. The results on the first page are what matter most as that is the first glance at your brand; what people will see most. Pay attention to customer reviews closely and address them first, even if all of them cannot be resolved. Most customers are satisfied if their concern is addressed rapidly, studies have shown.
For example, even a giant like Nike doesn’t take their customers for granted and has a separate dedicated Twitter account for customer queries, called @NikeSupport. Negative feedback should never be hidden and can be turned into an opportunity for your brand when addressed properly. Replying to negative comments not only shows the professionalism of your brand but gives you an opportunity to publicly explain your side of the story. While constructive criticism would help your brand address its blind spots and possible shortcomings, extreme bad reviews involving foul language can be removed legally. At times creative and humorous responses to negative reviews can increase the popularity of your brand tremendously if done carefully.
Equally important is to find where your customers are - Twitter, Facebook, Quora, etc - and keep a close watch there. Creating your own social media profile makes this entire process much easier, as you could monitor all reviews in one place.
An inexpensive method to do this is to create a Google alert for your brand name and follow up every alert. Employing a reputation management agency can guarantee results as well. Whichever method you employ, be assured that the time and money you spend on building your reputation would always be worth it.
We at Cedilla understands the criticality of ORM or Online Reputation Management and help brand prevent, manage and eliminate negative comments and brand spoiler messages.