4 Reasons your business needs Online Reputation Management

Online Reputation Management (ORM) is the practice of monitoring online conversations, articles and websites, in order to gain a better understanding and insight of how one’s brand is perceived online.

Despite a global surge in ORM adoption in the past two years, few emerging market businesses have embraced its full potential for strategic business decision-making (as opposed to merely utilising it as a social media management tool).

The role of a business is to provide products or services to their customers in order to generate a sustainable profit. Customers gain value from using these products or services and therefore continue to support the business. There is a fine balance between these two equally invested parties. Understanding this symbiotic relationship between consumers and brands is a critical activity for businesses in the digital age. Businesses that appreciate the power of their customers can leverage it for massive gain. Those that don’t quickly lose market share. This is the role of ORM in the business environment — to mediate between customer and business desires, that both parties to gain value from the relationship.

On one level ORM provides a means for business to understand the needs of their customers. Some applications include:

1. Business strategy

Traditionally, businesses have made decisions based on the feedback they received from their frontline staff and traditional market research. While this used to be enough, the pace at which the online world currently operates results in increasing pressure on businesses to make decisions faster. A laborious decision-making process will often lead to competitors taking the advantage, or worse, customers losing faith in the brand itself. ORM provides an effective means of providing real-time, unsolicited customer feedback. This means that decisions can be made quickly, resulting in a stronger alignment between the customers needs and the business’ offering. Employing an ORM strategy can highlight potential problem areas or potential wins. For instance, scenarios that require senior staff attention, determining roll-out priorities, or identifying staff training needs.

2. Communication and brand strategy

When implementing a communication or brand strategy, a deep understanding of the existing customer context is critical. If customers are unhappy about a specific area in the business it would be foolish to promote it as a USP. However, there will always be a part of the business that has a strong customer following. Identifying these opportunities and risks and then applying it to your strategic thinking means that you “fight” the battles that you can win and leave the rest to be resolved through operational improvements. The key outcomes include: A better understanding of the business SWOT analysis, a deeper understanding of the customer, and a creative stimulus from which to design the strategy.

3. Communication and brand strategy implementation

Unlike the strategic approach above, the implementation of a strategy is about identifying which tactics are successful, and why these tactics are successful, then increasing the focus in the identified areas to maximise the results. Online conversations are increasingly reflective of the “real-world”. Tracking and understanding these conversations provide opportunities to better engage customers in a more meaningful way, both online and off. A successful example of this was South Africa’s Goodbye Citi campaign, which used digital to evolve both the on- and offline activities around the brand. The key outcomes from this are likely answers to the following questions: what is working? What is resonating among consumers? What part of the message are they picking up on? What is the market response to the specific positioning that we’re promoting? What can we do better?

4. Digital strategy/implementation

Digital marketing is, in most cases, closer to the consumer than any other single marketing channel. Online consumers have immense power to research, obtain peer review and truly determine the truth around a brand and it’s promise. In this space, a company’s digital team require a means of gaining real-time insight into the opportunities and feedback that consumers are presenting. This ranges from understanding the community itself, identifying who or what is influencing them, and gaining insights into the levers that can be pulled to redirect their thinking about a brand or product.

Ultimately, ORM caters to a number of areas of the business outside of the strategy or marketing space, including departments such as R&D and sales. The underlying principle across all these varied disciplines is the mantra that “he who has the best insights wins”. Across the full spectrum, this can and should be applied to empower better, more timely, decision-making to put businesses back on an equal footing with their customers – something that many businesses feel they have already lost and are therefore unwilling to invest in digital.



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.