40 years ago, if someone had a complaint about a product or service, they would grumble directly to their friends and family members about it. Word-of-mouth could be damning, but it wasn’t disastrous. Fast forward to the digital age where even the smallest of slights can turn into a virtual nightmare for a corporation. In fact, two out of three people see the Internet as the most reliable source of information about a person or a business.
There are many misconceptions about what exactly online reputation management is and if it’s simply about social media monitoring. However, the role of online reputation management (ORM) in today’s media and business landscape is a lot more crucial than people suspect. Don’t catch on before it’s too late and you have a virtual PR nightmare on your hands.
When the internet first came into play, companies were more like digital storefronts. Business was very top-down and brands were speaking AT people instead of with them. Organizations were not engaging people but selling to a passive audience. Consumers were not as free to express their opinions as they are now. Since that has all changed, regular interactions on social networks are vital to maintaining a positive brand image.
Dynamic interaction starts with social listening and continues with engagement. Once you establish where your audience is and what they are saying, it’s time to attack the negativity. By being helpful and open, people will trust your brand even more.
It may be that your brand has done nothing wrong. However, the amount of exposure the internet offers creates a level of vulnerability that a business needs to adjust to. Omni-channel marketing puts you out there in every sense. There are many ways in which your online reputation can suffer, including factors like:
- Disgruntled employee complaints.
- Unsatisfied customers posting their issues.
- Negative media coverage.
- Hacking and random sabotage from third-parties.
- Rival brands spreading misinformation.
- Negative reviews.
- Angry emojis.
The list goes on. When looking for a local business, 97% of people read online reviews.
Basically, if someone is upset with your brand, you want to do everything in your power to address it before it gets out of hand online. Once something negative goes viral, it can take years to dig out of the virtual ditch.
The Solution is Transparency
In order to maintain a positive ORM, you have to act fast and efficiently. It’s all about transparency. Consumers can read between the lines and if you ignore a complaint or have the same issues arise, readers will take note. It creates a level of brand distrust that could put your revenue in a downward spiral.
It’s critical that you act quickly and authentically to address any complaints as to avoid reputational damage. People are very forgiving, but they absolutely hate to be ignored. Don’t avoid negative situations because you don’t want to deal with it. That actually makes it worse.
Perception is everything and online brand management is about keeping your name in a positive light. ORM is about increasing consumer loyalty and encouraging people to become brand ambassadors through stellar leadership. It creates trust capital that can lead to the accepting of higher prices and increased ROI. It enhances the appeal of your brand to audiences. Lastly, it makes you look like you have humans running your brand—not robots. In today’s digital age, that type of engagement is priceless.