Online Reputation Management or ORM is a term that is most searched these days. Ranging from brands, small to the unicorns, everyone is busy running from pillar to post seeking answers.
It is certainly a confusing situation to be in and we have crafted a definitive guide to Online Reputation Management (ORM), thus ending your woes.
What is Online Reputation Management (ORM)?
Online Reputation Management refers to the strategies and the plan of action devised that intend to put your brand in the positive light.
Apart from ensuring a favorable reputation, it is also designed to keep your brand away from trouble.
Trouble? What kind of trouble?
While positive publicity is a boon, negative publicity is a bane. You don’t want to see your brand getting stained by a problem that could have been averted.
An online reputation management strategy is akin to a guard that helps in keeping a close eye on anything that has to do with your brand.
Why is ORM important?
In a world where having a digital presence is crucial, the kind of online reputation your brand holds definitely matters.
Ever since online reviews found a place of astute importance on the customer research checklist, online reviews just can’t be ignored.
Since it drives the majority of the purchase decisions, brands will have to pay undivided intention to reviews and their online reputation.
The way your customers perceive you says a lot about your brand. With the internet making life easier with things that can be done on the go, customers are voicing their opinions.
And, this is a phenomenon that is here to stay.
Online channels that you should be focusing on
Your brand’s online reputation is spread all over the internet. It isn’t limited to a particular site and it encompasses everything.
To help you plan your online reputation management strategy that is pragmatic and includes everything under its sphere, here are the key avenues that you should factor in while preparing your online reputation management strategy.
1. Review Sites
With reviews having been in the scene for a while now, many review sites have come up in the last decade.
While there are a dozen review sites out there, it can get seemingly difficult to manage reviews.
“But, all that you have to do is reply to them”
Ask yourself, ‘How many online channels your business is listed on? Can you you reply to feedbacks present in each one of them?’
To make handling reviews easier, there are review management tools out there that aggregate reviews from multiple review sites and bring it at your doorstep.
You can be assured that all major review sites would be integrated with the product. However, be sure to use sophisticated tools that categorize reviews on the basis of sentiments i.e. positive, negative, and neutral.
Google, Yelp,TripAdvisor and other review sites are some of the major review sites to concentrate on.
If you are in industries such as hospitality, retail, food & beverages, banking, and healthcare, leveraging online reviews helps you build a credible brand identity.
2. Social Media
Social media has grown by leaps and bounds in the recent past. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram have a user base triple the size of small countries like Vatican City and Monaco.
With 2.2 million users worldwide, Facebook occupies the numero uno position in the long list of social media sites. The reason its followership has skyrocketed is attributed to its ease of access.
Monitoring social media helps you know the opinions of users that would otherwise be impossible to know.
To help you with this task, there are myriad of social listening and monitoring tools out there. Be sure to make full use of them to get the most out of it.
Also read: How to monitor Online Reputation of your brand
3. News portals
To be in the news is a thing of pride although it all depends on whether it is for good or bad reasons. Setting alerts on all the major news portals can help you mitigate the repercussions it might have on your brand.
Making it to the headlines or tabloids for all the wrong reasons damages your identity, sometimes beyond repair.
And, journalism is a serious business. If you land in soup, the aftermath can be pretty devastating. Though you might not do anything wrong, there is a tiny chance that you might end up in a mess despite having no fault of yours.
Setting Google Alerts can be one way to monitor the news
Forums are the web equivalent of physical hangout spots. It is one place where like-minded people come together and others come to seek answers.
Reddit and Quora are popular forums that have gained popularity over the years. It is a place where people ask questions and inquire about a product or service.
While the above two are forums that aren’t restricted to a particular niche or industry, there are industry-specific forums that occupy a dominant position. For instance, FlyerTalk is a forum that is quite famous with the travel enthusiasts.
TripAdvisor, though is a review site and OTA, it has its own forum for travelers and backpackers.
Often times, wanderlusts and backpackers write their own experiences pertaining to their stay, travel and other things. These may also include influencers whose blogs have subscribers in thousands.
The followership is often credited to credible and genuine content that is posted by them. High traffic blogs that show a brand in poor light affect it adversely.
So be sure to fix them by putting out genuine content. The best way is to ask other influencers to promote your brand on social media.
Steps to improve your Online Reputation
1. Research and analyze
The primary step is to get into research mode. Check the content of your competitors. You can use BuzzSumo to see how their content is performing and the influencers they have partnered with.
You can also find out the keywords that they are ranking for that reflect a positive association. Watch out for all the negative mentions such as controversy, scandal, scam, and phishing.
Spend some time conducting product searches and brand searches. You should also Google the names of your top executives, particularly the CXOs.
Amidst all these, don’t forget to check out your social media profiles. A detailed audit of all the metrics such as likes, engagement, impressions, and shares will help you in knowing where you stand.
Review sites shouldn’t skip your attention. List out all the review sites you are listed on and do a thorough analysis.
2. Ask questions
After having done all the things that are a part of the first step. You should look for answers to the following questions-1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad or good is your online reputation? Be honest to yourself and don’t award high scores even though you might be tempted to do so.
2. Who are your competitors who enjoy a good reputation? We also advise you to take a look at the ones who have a bad or unfavorable reputation so that you can learn from their mistakes.
3. What are the social media channels, review sites, forums that you should be listed on?
4. What are the blogs that have covered your brand? Is it a good or bad coverage?
5. What sentiment do the reviews echo? Is it positive, negative, or neutral?
6. Which of your CXOs and other people in leadership roles have a negative reputation? Do they post anything sexist, misogynistic or things that are bigotry in nature?
Even content that spews hatred against sexual orientations particularly homosexuality should be considered.
3. Prepare and execute
After finding answers to all the questions in the step preceding this, identify all the weak points that are maligning your online reputation.
For instance, if there is a complaint on a particular consumer forum against your brand, you should focus on getting it removed.
You should also check the official records pertaining to the particular complaint. Did the customer ever reach out to you? If yes, what was done to resolve the issue?
If attempts were made to resolve the issues at hand, why didn’t it work? Was it because the customer was unsatisfied or were they being unreasonable?
These are the vital questions that need to be answered before reaching out to the website admin of an online consumer forum to remove any complaints.
Because you need to have concrete evidence that supports your claim of being authentic. The real world works on documented proof and if you don’t have any, you can’t do much to clean up your bad online reputation.
Also read: 5 Tactics to improve Online Reputation of your hotel
Difference between ORM and SEO
A common misconception that brands have is that they think SEO and ORM to be one and the same.
Did you too think both of them to be the same?
If you did, then don’t fret. SEO refers to the ranking of keywords that are particularly related to a product or a service while ORM refers to branded keywords. Branded keywords are exclusive to a brand. It usually is the name of the product or the service.
So now that the difference between ORM and SEO is explained, you should stop using it interchangeably. Many companies that specialize in ORM don’t do SEO which affects the brand in the longer term.
In contrast, SEO is a part of ORM but conversely, that isn’t the case.
Myths of ORM
As with all things important, even ORM has its fair share of fallacies. Owing to these untrue beliefs, businesses end up committing grave mistakes.
The myths of ORM are so notorious that it eats a large chunk of the revenue which can be prevented if measures are taken on time.
These myths have been prevalent because ORM companies haven’t taken the onus to dispel them.
Ranging from believing that online reputation isn’t in one’s hands and deleting negative reviews solves the problems, the myths of ORM are numerous.
Two practices that need to be abolished is the ignorance of negative reviews and writing tons of fake positive reviews. Another thing carries consequential importance is focusing on your customer service.
Your ORM strategy falls flat if customer issues aren’t addressed. When this happens frequently, negative reviews pile up and your brand begins to crumble.
Must follow rules of ORM
1. Earn respect
Well, we aren’t preaching but though it is something that is obvious, yet brands don’t realize this simple fact.
Whatever business that you might do, respect earned from your customers and the public helps build brand credibility.
It takes years to build your reputation, be it online or offline. Don’t jeopardize it by doing something stupid.
2. Own up to your mistakes
Whenever you are at fault and that is pretty evident, don’t ever refuse to accept it. Owning up to your mistakes is a sign of maturity that is an essential trait to establish a praiseworthy reputation.
If your customers don’t like the experience of using the product or service, inquire with them and make up for it.
3. Always respond politely
Politeness is a noble virtue to have. Having such a virtue makes you humane. Don’t hit out at your customers who leave negative reviews. Instead, respond to it in a calm and composed manner and reach out to them.
Make efforts to solve their issues and you could possibly win them over. Accountability is well appreciated and goes a long way in cementing your online reputation.
4. Train your employees
Though freedom of speech is a fundamental right, it comes with a certain responsibility. Your employees should be taught to have an open mind when it comes to issues that are controversial.
They may have their own prejudices, but posting anything distasteful that is not in line with your brand beliefs will tarnish your reputation.
Many brands have fired their executives who were insensitive on social media. Racist, misogynistic, sexist, and bigotry opinions are unhealthy and disrupt harmony. Even views that are derogatory towards a particular sexual orientation should be unwelcome.
Conducting workshops from time to time with an objective to instill awareness in your employees is the first step that should be taken in this regard.
5. Seek help when stuck
If your brand is slipping into darkness owing to a bad reputation, it's time you started seeking professional help before it's too late.
‘A stitch in time saves nine’
An ORM company with legit credentials and quality work in the past should be approached.
6. Stop seeking instant gratification
Humans find it hard not to get attracted to things which produce instantaneous results. As is the case with everything else, even online reputation isn’t free from the problem of instant gratification.
Long lasting results are the outcome of an ORM strategy that is ethical and complies with the policies of Google and the Internet.
Practice delayed gratification and it will help you tread on the right path.
Online Reputation is a continuous process that becomes ineffective if there is a halt.
The crucial takeaway from this post is that doing anything unethical may fetch results immediately, but it affects your brand in the long term.
What are the online reputation strategies that you believe are effective?
Personal experiences are welcome in the comment section.