All successful marketing is hinged on one core principle: Information. Information about the product, the market, and the consumer. After all, marketing itself is “the exchange of specific information for consumer interaction,” which mirrors the definition of communication as “the act of giving and receiving information.” (Read more: Marketing research & Consumer Insight)
Finding the conversation points in the modern era of the internet is the greater challenge as the backward conversation to the business is taking place on multiple platforms at any time of the day. This is due to the multi-pronged nature of the digital world where not only marketing, but consumer feedback takes place on multiple platforms including comments, mentions and reviews on websites and social media platforms whether these sites are related to the business or not.
This process of monitoring, mitigating, and maintaining positive online communication is known as Online Reputation Management (ORM). It is a necessary, but imminently logical, consequence of the very necessary online presence businesses need to maintain to find and funnel potential customers to their products and services. By the nature of the internet, potential consumers are constantly interacting with their digital world through searching or providing information every single second. User-generated content such as photos, posts, comments, reviews, videos and other content combine into a complete web presence where all mentions – that is, where the business is mentioned by name – is not necessarily within the control of the business.
The importance of maintaining a good reputation is not new, but the scope and complexity of the process management in the online age is sometimes a new, and daunting, realisation. For a company to proactively manage their online reputation, it is important that they take and maintain the lead in the public conversation through:
- Creating and posting new content
- Staying active on social media
- Social networking
- Promoting existing content
- Building social profiles
The pitfall of an online presence feared among many businesses, is mentions where the products and services – or the company in its entirety – is criticised whether through professional journalism or user-generated content. However, even such negative mentions can be reversed through proactive ORM. In fact, it has been shown that a reversed negative mention can, among many benefits, boost positive online reputation.
When managing a business’s online reputation, the following needs to be monitored:
- Social media
- Online directories with reviews
- Collaborative websites like Wikipedia
- Article submission directories
- Collaborative research websites
- User-generated content
- Blogging communities
- Social news and bookmarking sites
- Sites that allow reviews of individuals
ORM in practise
- Create a Google My Business (GMB) Account
Stay consistent when adding the information to the account, such as matching your business name to the way it is given on your website, providing the correct address and phone contact numbers and adding photos to show what your business looks like. These details must always be up to date.
- Google Alerts
Google Alerts will send you a notification when a new mention about your business is published.
- Research your company online using a good search engine
Type in your business name and investigate whatever search results are reported. If you find mentions of your company or business, it is important for positive ORM to respond to both positive and negative mentions.
While ORM can be a more time-consuming and labour-intensive form of public relations management, the rewards can be substantial in terms of increased sales and brand awareness.