In a world where the first thing angry customers do is vent about their bad experience on the internet, online reputation management has become more important than ever. Every business ought to pay more attention to it, since the best way to connect with your main audience in this digital age is by building a trusty brand presence online.
But here’s the problem – Most people misunderstand this concept, which makes them think that social media management and online reputation management are the same thing. But this is really far from the truth!
Yes, ORM does involve social media, but that’s not all. With this guide, you will learn the principles and tips about online reputation management.
To begin with, you need to know why a good online reputation is vital for survival.
All eyes are on you
That’s no exaggeration! People these days are always paying attention to what’s going on online – they spend hours hanging out with their people on Facebook, watching videos on Youtube, sharing the hottest news on Twitter, and looking for information on search engines – every single day.
As a business, you need to be careful about how your message is perceived, and constantly monitor what people say about your brand. The slightest mistake you make can hurt your brand forever, since news spreads like wildfire on the net.
Now do you get how crucial ORM is?
If you focus on building a brand that people would love to engage with, there is absolutely no need to worry.
Of course, there will always be people who don’t like you or your brand, and that’s not only natural but also necessary.
Instead of paying too much heed to people who don’t like your brand, build fantastic relationships with people who do, and build your audience accordingly.
Of course there are plenty of mistakes that brands make in the process of trying to maintain their reputation, and I will tell you what they are.
The 4 common ORM mistakes every brand does
There are too many mistakes to list out now, but here are the four most common, critical ones that can really hurt your brand.
Mistake #1 – Giving users a horrifying website experience
As funny as it may sound, a horrifying website can put people off very easily. It’s like the golden rule you give your friends before you introduce them to your mom, “Please give a good first impression.”
And it isn’t just me saying this! Here’s a proven fact: almost 5 out of 10 people will immediately cite a website’s design as the main factor in deciding whether or not to trust a business.
If you have a website design that makes people cringe, you might be losing the half the money you could have made. Get the ball rolling and create a clean, relevant, and user-friendly web design.
Mistake #2 – Flaunting a vague, ineffective USP
Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is the dividing line between success and failure. Can you clearly communicate the benefits your customers will have if they choose you? If not, how will they know that you have a winning product or service? You will lose out on business big time.
Mistake #3 – Falling prey to procrastination
A tragic flaw for centuries! In my opinion, this is the most common mistake that people make when it comes to building a brand online. And the worst thing about it is that it seems so harmless, you never see the doom coming!
If you still aren’t convinced that it can hurt your business, here’s an example:
Someone tweets to you saying your product is defective. If you respond after days, or even worse – don’t respond at all, the customer immediately blacklists you as an irresponsible, unconcerned brand. And you know, the word spreads real quick.
When people have taken a valuable portion of their time to talk to you, it means there is room for winning their favor. You should be glad they informed you instead of dismissing you without a thought.
Mistake #4 – Creating fake reviews
Do I sense a smirk there? The worst thing you can do is to fake reviews that throw way too many compliments at your brand. It’s like fooling your audience, and if overdone, people see through it. If your product or service hasn’t received reviews yet, please don’t write them yourself, or pay someone to write one.
People are extremely smart. And if they discover that you’re buying fake reviews, it will be really (and I mean, REALLY) difficult to recover their trust.
The 5 tips that drive successful ORM
Now that you know what not to do, it’s time you know about the principles that make for a fantastic online reputation management strategy.
“Why principles, and not the strategies themselves?” you may ask.
Well, principles are the roots of a strategy. You cannot always stick on to the strategies that work today. But you can use the same principles for years to create different winning strategies from time to time.
And now for the five most important Tips that will help you build a great brand presence.
Tip #1 – Be a social listener
If you constantly track what other people are saying about your brand, you will be able to take action every time a good or bad comment is posted. This means more scope for connecting with your fans, problem-solving, and getting potential clients.
Tools like Mention.net and Google Alerts can help you automate this process and increases the effectiveness of your efforts.
Head over to Mention.net and create an account (they offer a free trial).
Then, click the button that says “Create a new alert”.
From the options, select “Your Company”.
Type in your company’s name and click “next.
Manage the sources you want to track. For example, if your audience is very active on Twitter and Facebook, you may want to choose those two.
On the other hand, if your audience is more active on blogs and forums, then you might want to choose those options. Choose prudently.
Then, select your language and click “next” to connect the profiles you want to track:
And you’re done!
Now every time a person mentions your brand or any keyword you want to track, you will get a notification right in your inbox, so you can act fast.
Tip #2 – Don’t fight with the haters
Let’s get this straight.
No matter how much your brand is loved, there is always going to be a bunch of people who hate it. And fighting with them when they post nasty comments is the kiss of death for your business.
Odd? Not really. People are going to judge you for whatever you do online. Besides, aren’t people entitled to their own opinion?
Be smart. Don’t take offense to hurtful comments, or the impact can be far worse than you imagine.
Tip #3 – Understand your audience
Yes, it’s that simple!
If you know how your audience sees the world, you will be able to speak their language, create content that meets their needs, and not say things they wouldn’t like to hear.
Know your audience well, and the number of problems you face will reduce drastically. It’s very important to do your research and create buyer personas on a regular basis. That’s fundamental to building a strong brand.
And now, two tips to help you perform effective research about your target audience:
First, create a list of the most popular forums in your industry. You can find forums by using the following search string:
“Your keyword” + forums
Once you have at least three forums on your list, it’s time to start analyzing. Look for the questions people commonly ask. What are their problems? How do they describe their issues? What kinds of words do they use? Answering these questions will tell you a lot about the way your audience thinks.
Second, head over to Qeryz and sign up (don’t worry, it’s free).
If you didn’t know about Qeryz already, it’s a tool that allows you to create customized questionnaires and surveys that you can use on your website to interview visitors.
Try framing specific questions that give you a deep insight into the problems your audience is facing – and then create a plan to solve these problems.
Remember, one of the best ways to build a strong reputation and become an authority in your industry is by solving your audience’s problems. And that becomes easy when you know your audience well!
Tip #4 – Keep a watch on your employees
I’m not trying to turn you into a snoop of some sort, but there’s nothing that can hurt your company more than your own employees. Unfortunately, you can’t control what they do, especially online. So first, you need to be careful with the people you hire – it’s very important that you check out their social media profiles before contacting them.
But what about the people who are already a part of your company?
Again – Mention.net to the rescue! It can be really helpful to monitor what’s going on with your employees on social media. You can set up some alerts, so when someone mentions one of your employees, you receive a notification. This way, you’ll know the corporate image that your employees are transmitting.
Now don’t get me wrong and go paranoid – mistrusting your employees is as bad as not monitoring them. Just ensure you have a system that helps you identify problems immediately, so you can resolve or prevent them.
Tip #5 - Be transparent
Transparency is absolutely necessary. Master the fine art of being totally honest with yourself, your peers, your employees, and everyone else.
For instance, if you’re bootstrapping a company and have no more than 4 employees, don’t try to look like a large corporation with hundreds of employees. It may seem stupid that I’m even mentioning this, but you’ll be surprised to find the number of companies that do this sort of stuff.
Transparency plays a key role in how you market your company, so don’t take it for granted!
So as you set out on the journey of building a strong brand presence on the internet, keep these things in mind.
If the article surprised you, or if you have something we can add, let us know in the comments below.