Are you paying enough attention to your reputation online?
This week I am talking online reputation management or ORM. The great thing about social media is that brands can interact with their customers in a more organic and authentic way. The not-so-great thing is that people can say what they want about a brand and that could be damaging.
Your online reputation is crucial – it determines how people perceive your brand when they search for you online. By managing your online reputation you can proactively influence what information people find about your brand. I’ve always been a firm believer in being proactive rather than reactive. So ORM appeals to me on so many levels. There will always be a hater or two. And that’s okay. It’s how you manage that hate online that will set your brand apart.
This is where reputation management comes in. I cannot stress enough how important ORM is. It’s more than catching the light correctly in a photo. It’s more than saying the right things at the right time. ORM is about being aware of what people are saying about your brand online and, where possible, influencing the discussion to your brand’s benefit. Even if you cannot act on what is being said about your brand, knowledge is still power. It helps you understand concerns, which in turn, helps work towards a solution down the line.
I’ve mentioned before how important online reviews of your brand are. Over 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Have you ever looked at a star rating? How many times have you given a brand a second thought if it had less than a 4-star rating? You are not alone – most people will not use a brand if it has a rating below 4 stars.
So, with this in mind, it is imperative that you actively seek to manage your online reputation.
Here’s what it involves:
- Monitoring customer feedback across all key platforms – social networks, search engines and review sites.
- Flagging inappropriate reviews and watching that no one is disparaging towards your brand.
- Addressing the issues and/or concerns raised by people online.
- Encouraging positive reviews.
Online reputation management (ORM) is not easy. It takes time, investment and commitment. This is how I go about ORM for my own brand:
The key platforms for my brand are Instagram and LinkedIn, followed by Facebook and Twitter. The first step in managing these platforms is understanding which platforms my followers use to evaluate or review my brand. Coupled with this is an understanding of which of these platforms most influence my audience.
Having an account on all 4 platforms is the first step. Controlling the page for my brand is crucial.
I set aside time on my calendar to go through everything that is said on my feeds. I flag what may be spam and what requires a response. Setting aside time to action my responses and tracking varies for different brands. I do it once a day and then every week I do an overall assessment and plan new actions.
Depending on the issues I have flagged or information I have come upon, the final step is creating a plan in which I can proactively address them. Being proactive is a sure-fire way to improve relationships with your audience and encourage positive reviews.
ORM is an ongoing activity and my advice is to always factor it into your social media plan. Your audience will not stop adding to your online story. So, if you want a happy ending, it’s up to you to watch and direct it.
Have you considered investing in a reputation management tool to assist you with ORM? There are tons of tools that companies can use to do this – from setting up alerts (think Google alerts) and monitoring keywords to engaging a PR specialist to help neutralise negative stories. But these are often costly and the average startup or solopreneur would be hard-pressed to fork out the cash for that type of intervention.
Here are a few online tools you can try out on your own:
- Brand Grader is free and gives you a quick overview of a brand’s online presence in seconds.
- Mention is like Google Alerts but in real time. Actually, think Google Alerts on steroids.
- Buzzsumo shows you what content is trending across social media, blogs, and news. Use it to compare your own content with that of competitors.
- Reputology specialises in review tracking. It helps you find and monitor brand reviews all over the web.
If you are serious about your online presence and marketing your brand on social media, ORM should take centre stage in your larger plan. Take the time to understand how you can manage your reputation online. You can influence your platforms. It’s just a matter of knowing how to.
Here are a few tips to get you going:
- Assess your current online reputation – ask friends, family and clients what they think or use one or two of the tools I’ve already mentioned to track what is said about your brand online.
- Create and share with your staff a social media policy that guides engagement to support your reputation goals.
- Your content strategy must be designed to promote your reputation.
- Manage your online reputation – if you have implemented the above steps thoroughly, this part is pretty simple. Laying a good foundation for your brand will help you ensure your reputation is always good.
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