All You Need To Know About Online Reputation Management
You run a business or work as a marketer at a business that works to keep its customers happy. You connect with customers on a personal level and are constantly working to develop new products and features to meet customers’ needs and even exceed their expectations.
But let’s face it, even with top-notch customer service, every customer-facing business dealing with humans is going to see its reputation take a hit every now and then.
A disgruntled customer shares an angry review on their social media page for the whole Internet to see. Or a damning media story is gaining serious traction far beyond what you anticipated.
This is where we introduce Online Reputation Management.
By actively managing your reputation, you can reduce negative customer feedback and positively influence the perception of your brand or business online.
To help you fully grasp the concept and understand the necessity of Online Reputation Management for your brand or business, this article will touch on the what, why, and how of online reputation management. It will also touch on possible ORM strategies to adopt for your business.
Let’s delve in!
How Do We Define Online Reputation Management?
Simply put, online reputation management (ORM) is the active monitoring of your brands on websites and social media with the aim of addressing or correcting any negative or false comments.
Essentially, the purpose of ORM is mainly to respond to negative customer comments online and reacting to media stories or reports (both social and traditional) that paint your company negatively in the eyes of the public.
An ORM example is releasing a public statement addressing the content of the negative story or publishing a social media post in response.
The Difference between Online Reputation Management and PR
Both online reputation management and public relations (PR) have the same goal; portraying the brand or business in the best possible light. The major difference between both is the manner in which they achieve that goal.
While PR firms work externally, that is through coordinated media promotional efforts and advertising. Most of the time, PR efforts are a proactive effort aimed at strengthening brands rather than minimizing attacks on companies (although PR firms more often than not handle damage control).
Online reputation management, on the other hand, is typically reactive. It involves searching for and responding promptly to potentially damaging content from other people or companies.
More often of than not, the work that goes into ORM is handled internally by brand teams rather than by an external firm due to the continuous nature of this endeavour.
Why is Online Reputation Management Important?
For popular brands, the hits or backlashes they take online can be numerous, but they’re typically small attacks; a negative review here, a low star rating there. Of course, none of these blows is worth a full-scale PR campaign, but brands need to be proactive as they quickly add up.
You need online reputation management strategy in place to effectively handle each of these little outbursts before they amount to serious damage or a reputation disaster for your brand.
ORM is also critical for maintaining transparency, which is a crucial ingredient of brand loyalty in 2020.
Although there is definitely still a place for orchestrated PR campaigns, consumers of today are increasingly looking for organic interactions with companies. They want to hear personally from businesses in customized conversations, either via direct messaging or Instagram comments. With an online reputation management strategy in place, your business is able to combat negative claims by addressing them openly and directly thereby building consumer trust.
5 Online Reputation Management Strategies You Can Use for Your Business
Given the vast number of social media platforms and other sites where your brand could possibly be mentioned, online reputation management could seem like an uphill task.
In this article, we will discuss five sound strategies to get you started in managing your brand’s online reputation.
1. Respond Instantly and With Empathy
Most of the time, the best ORM happens even before a negative review or comment is posted. When a customer asks a question, either by messaging you directly or posting on social media, you should respond right away.
You need to understand that majority of customers also detest negative attention in any form, so they would naturally give brands the benefit of doubt by reaching out in a more reasonable manner at their first approach to resolve issues, and this is where you should nip it in the bud.
A survey from Clutch discovered that 83% of people typically expect responses to social media comments in a day or less, so don’t keep your customers or prospects waiting too long for a response. Even when you do not have the solution to the particular query at hand, replying them that you’re working on resolving their issue, in the quickest possible time does go a long way in reassuring them of your commitment to great service.
From experience, speedy responses prevent frustrated users from posting negative feedback publicly and it also shows the customer you place a high value on helping them. Also, remember to respond with empathy.
Let the customer understand that you’re invested in solving their problems and that, whatever it comes to; you are there to help. An example here is Athletic clothing company Lululemon, they did this when they answered a question on Twitter:
Online reputation management Lulumemon
By giving a response that this isn’t how they want her to feel, Lululemon was able to project a feeling of genuine concern over the customer’s problem. Note that they fully expressed their desire to resolve the issue and provided her with an easy means of directly contacting the company so they could resolve it quickly.
If you fail to respond to customer queries quickly enough, it may lead to a private message turning into a negative public statement.
That’s what happened to the American clothing brand, American Eagle.
Online reputation management AE
Here, the customer sent a direct message to American Eagle to make an enquiry, the company however never responded. The customer in frustration then posted publicly about her bad experience.
Clearly, this could have been easily avoided with careful online reputation management. A simple response would have prevented making a customer unhappy, a negative and possibly costly piece of feedback.
A lot of brands fail to realize how easy it is in actuality to prevent this kind of publicity.
All that is required is a quick and empathic response to questions in a simple way to appease customers and build a positive online reputation.
2. Address Negativity Up Front
You probably think its easier to discount negative reviews and comments from customers. Why would you want to draw light to the negative attention and comments with a response right? But that’s not the case. You’re actually doing your brand/business a huge disservice when you ignore unhappy customers.
Out of the 82% of consumers that read online reviews, 97% will also read the business’s responses. When you address negative reviews, you show your customers that even in the eventuality that they have issues with your company, you will always be on hand to address it. This is the bedrock of building consumer trust.
So, whenever a customer leaves a negative comment or review, make sure you always respond. Attend to their issue with patience and determination; let them see/feel your desire to resolve their problem.
Peloton, an exercise-equipment company, follows this mind-set by consistently responding to negative reviews posted on their website.
Online reputation management Peloton
In the comments, Peloton makes dissatisfied customers understand their concerns have been heard and goes further to offer a way for the aggrieved reviewer to make direct contact with the support team to have their issue resolved.
For what its worth, a lack of response on your part may be seen as a confirmation whatever your business is being accused of.
A clothing company, Everlane, received a huge amount of questions and comments regarding a news story about their workers coming together to form a union, and the company never responded.
Online reputation management Everlane
The company’s silence led the public to propose that the company fired its customer service employees, which obviously is a terrible look for any business. By simply addressing the negative feedback, Everlane would have helped put an end to the negative comments and protect their brand’s reputation.
3. Admit Your Mistakes
If your company is facing scrutiny for a perceived or real scandal, it always helps to apologize. I mean everyone errs at some point, including businesses.
When you show remorse, you diffuse tense customer situations and show your human side, thereby deepening your relationships with consumers. It also lets your customers and prospects know that your company is honest and transparent.
Carefully craft your apology with a genuine intention to admit to and resolve the issue at hand. Address every major concern raised by the customer and possibly the media, and give in clear detail what the steps you’re going to take to resolve the situation.
You also need to put into consideration the medium or channel for your apology. For example, if the most of the negative feedback were via a social media platform, then that channel would be the most ideal space to post your statement.
Starbucks, the global coffee giant, posted a public apology on Twitter after two African American men were wrongfully arrested in a Philadelphia store.
They then followed up their apology with a policy review and, finally, they closed all their stores in America, the country of the incident for a day of racial-bias training.
Unlike Starbucks, Pepsi rendered a public apology that only did more damage to their reputation than the initial blunder. It kicked-off when the soft-drink brand received a momentous amount of negative feedback from an ad they ran in 2017.
In the said ad, celebrity model Kendall Jenner diffused a standoff between police and protesters by handing the police officers’ cans of Pepsi. Consumers were outraged by what seemed to be the belittling of protesters who had been arrested and other protesters grievances, and especially since the ad directly evoked an image from a protest against police brutality in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which had a racial undertone and was most probably its inspiration.
In a further blunder, Pepsi’s apology for the 2017 ad focused on the celebrity influencer; Kendall Jenner rather than the aggrieved consumers who had issues with the ad, i.e. it focused on the wrong “who” in the situation.
They failed to mention the photo consumers felt the ad evoked, and they barely made a comment on the idea that the company was making light of serious protest for a deeper political cause.
Pepsi 2017 apology
Even though they eventually removed the ad, their response left customers dissatisfied, and this led to a reduced rating among Pepsi’s young and more politically conscious consumers even up to a year later.
As marketers, we should have it at that back of our minds that everyone makes mistakes, more so companies, in their day-to-day bid in facing customers. Letting consumers know what you will do to solve the problem or prevent it from happening again gives consumers the confidence that you are an honest company that will own up to its mistakes.
4. Stay on Top of Your Search Results
For most marketers, SEO is tagged as a way to keep their brand visible. However, it’s also an important tool for reducing the visibility of negative press and other such content associated with your brand.
Typically, with SEO, you want your company’s page to pop up first when your company’s name is searched. After all, the number one result on search engine result pages gets more than 31% of all clicks, and consumers have 10 times higher chance to click on the first search result than on a page 10 spots down.
To monitor your brand’s search results, use an incognito window so you see what customers see. Your Competitors or players in a similar space as you can bid on your branded keywords to ensure their information show up first, thus you may have to bid on your own keywords to maintain the top spot.
For example, if you Google Taskade, the top results are all related directly to the company, this includes their main page, business page, social media, and positive customer reviews.
On the contrary, if you Google Trello, the first result you see is a paid ad from a direct competitor, Monday.
This means that even if a potential customer starts out searching for Trello, they may decide to use Monday instead, because it is the very first search result.
Another method to boost search results is by encouraging happy customers to share positive feedback on ranking review sites. This will improve your average rating, which is what potential customers or prospects see before clicking in to look at individual reviews.
5. Automate Online Reputation Management.
As opposed to manually combing through websites and social media on your own, you could opt to using software that automates ORM tasks.
One of the simplest and most effective monitoring tools is Google Alerts. By simply entering your brand name in the tool, you’ll receive notifications of news stories and media that talk about your company. With that, you will know immediately when your company is being talked about or mentioned, and you can respond quickly if necessary.
There’s another tool; Brand24 which goes a step further. Rather than just crawling news stories, it monitors social media for mentions of your brand as well. It can even perform a “sentiment analysis,” analyzing key emotion words in customer reviews to let you know how customers and prospects feel generally about your brand.
Brand24 sentimentality analysis
We also have SEMrush, which helps in search ranking analysis by tracking the SERP positions of your brand and competitors. It does more than just crawling sites and compiling mentions of your brand, it also performs site audits and shows you how to make your company-managed pages rank higher.
SEMrush page rankings
By utilizing these automatic tools, you will be afforded more time to do the high-level work of ORM; which is, of course, repairing and strengthening relationships with dissatisfied customers.
Ensure your Brand’s Image stays intact with Online Reputation Management, shoppers judge your brand by what they hear and see about it on the Internet.
Make use of online reputation management in strengthening the positive image of your brand that you continuously work so hard to build. Give a speedy response to questions and negative feedback and you will give current and potential customers the confidence that your company is there to resolve any problems they might have. When you implement an ORM strategy, you’ll have more control over how consumers or the public view your company.
If you engage in online reputation management, please feel free to share your tips and results in the comments!