As any successful company will tell you, building a good reputation is not an easy process and it usually takes years of hard work to get it done. With the explosion of Web 2.0 in the last couple of years, many companies are focusing on social media experts (brand ambassadors) and trusted PR agencies to build them a positive online reputation around their products, services, and their brand.
Everyone that has access to the online universe can be a “citizen journalist” and has the ability to share anything with the community on their social web channels. A negative comment, review, blog post or simply a bad experience that are shared by “citizen journalists” can damage your online reputation in 140 characters or less.
In my opinion, everyone should start focusing on maintaining their reputation online because your online reputation is crucial in today’s digital lifestyle. This process is called online reputation management (ORM) and it helps you in managing and monitoring your digital reputation which is also seen as your “digital CV”.
Your online presence
Only a few years ago, your website was the only presence (brochure) you needed if someone wanted to find out more information about you. With all the craze about social media and online networking, a business that wants to stay at the top must interact and engage frequently on various social media channels to get the word out about their business. Being active on these channels brings in a new set of public relation responsibilities that should be integrated in your company if you want to expand your image on the web.
Everyone on the web is talking about the social media “buzz” and how you can use it in your business to engage with targeted audiences, and increase your brand awareness, but what are you going to do when someone shares or posts something negative about you online? By proactively monitoring your online reputation you can protect your digital image and at the same time support your marketing campaigns to help you build brand awareness.
Protecting your online reputation against negative slander is not the only thing you can do with an online reputation management process. Here are a couple of advantages when monitoring your reputation proactively.
Advantages of online reputation management:
Have an early warning process in place to manage crises proactively.
Be notified of any negative publicity posted online about you.
Improve your customer satisfaction by interacting with customers that have had bad experiences with your services, products, or brand. Use their feedback to see where you can improve your business.
Boost your brand image by establishing a direct connection with your customers.
Research how your competitors reputation is performing against yours and gain insights about their customers perceptions about them.
Improve your search engine rankings by pushing down negative comments about you with up to date information and positive content.
Create opportunities by engaging and listening to what people are talking about your business.
Increase your PR by understanding the influencers in your industry.
Reduce marketing spend with customer research.
Help identify gaps for services and products that can be developed for niche markets.
That said, the most important thing about online reputation management is that you don’t have to wait for negative publicity to happen before you start putting out to flames. It is important to carefully monitor your reputation and be proactive when doing so. ORM will help insure that your brand image stays positive in the minds of your customers and from the people looking for any services that your business offers.
Having a bad reputation on the web can negatively affect your business without you ever hearing a word from an unhappy customer or without you even saying a single word in defence to the negative comment or allegations.
Author | Anton Koekemoer
I'm your friendly neighbourhood digital marketing specialist. I specialise in helping brands connect with targeted customers by enhancing their online presence through emerging web-based communication channels. I translate business objectives into comprehensive initiatives that focus on humanising brand identity while maximising measurable business results. More