It doesn’t make sense to ignore Online Reputation Management in today’s highly connected, online world. A study in 2013 by Dimensional Research revealed some startling figures about how consumers choose where to do business online. In regards to online reviews, 86% surveyed confirmed that a negative review would negatively impact their buying decision, while a similar 90% said that a positive review would make them more likely to do business with a company.
With statistics like that, online reputations today can’t be left to chance. Businesses need to take a proactive approach to online reputation management if they want to attract and retain customers.
Your Reputation Goes beyond a Simple Review
Consumer reviews are a powerful force. The above statistics are a testament to the fact. Up to 97% of your potential customers will research local businesses online, so it’s highly likely that customers will find reviews and publicity about your business, both good and bad. Managing your online reputation is in part concerned with offsetting any negative reviews about your company and products by increasing the number of positive reviews available.
But before you make the mistake of thinking, great, I only need to get some positive reviews posted, think again. Positive reviews cannot simply be fabricated, and that’s not the only thing that ORM is about. Fake reviews can be identified and traced, and in the US, the Attorney General has even been looking in to the legal implications of fake reviews. Imagine the damage that would be caused to your reputation if you were caught engaging in such a practice.
So What Is Online Reputation Management/Marketing?
More than just a review, and never a fake review, ORM concerns controlling distribution of any content that displays your company in a positive light. This could include social media, forum postings, press releases, company blogs, and of course positive customer reviews. Just because you can’t post your own reviews doesn’t mean that you can’t encourage positive reviews through other means. ORM is all about showing your business in the best possible way, with complete integrity.
ORM is not in itself unethical. How can it be unethical to promote your business? The key here is to do things honestly. You can encourage positive customer reviews without fabricating them. You can post blog content about some of the great things your company is doing without misleading people. ORM is not here to completely discredit bad press about your company, but rather it will overcome negativity by addressing issues, and showcase what you’re already doing right.
There’s nothing misleading about publishing legitimate consumer reviews on behalf of your customers. By controlling your online reputation you are able to go directly to your target market, and raise the positive exposure of your business. You’re not only promoting yourself, but you’re educating customers about your key differentiators and what you have to offer them.
Striking a Balance between Promotional Content and Consumer Opinions
Content can always be defined within two categories. Owner generated, and user generated.
- Owner generated content can be blog posts, press releases, forum postings on relevant community sites, paid promotional articles in the press or on industry specific sites, and generally any published content that originated from the business owner. A Nielson study revealed that up to 58% of customers will trust content generated by the business owner. You can control every single piece of information that comes through this channel, so as a business owner, you need to make the most of it.
- The flip side of owner generated content is the user content. This can come through similar channels like blogs, testimonials, forum postings, editorial reviews, and consumer reviews around the internet. The majority of consumers will trust businesses who have positive consumer reviews. So while not 100% under your control, the user generated content is a powerful decider in businesses success.
How to Do ORM Right
Successful implementation of online reputation marketing relies on a basic flow of events. Beginning with research, and ending with the publication of content.
- Research. Before you can even begin, you need a holistic overview of your online presence. This would include keyword research to identify what your prospective customers are searching for when they encounter your company. Identifying these keywords helps you know where to target your content, and what the content will include.
- Content Setup / Social Media Setup. All of your content needs to be delivered through the most relevant media. In this step, all of your content deployment channels are created including social networking accounts, your company website, company blogs, and sites like Youtube could also be included. Every delivery channel should be branded and optimized for your target market.
- Publication. The final step involves uploading all of your content. This includes your blog posts, your promotional articles, the user reviews you have obtained from satisfied customers, even social media updates, tweets, Youtube videos, and any other targeted content that you will be using to boost your online reputation.
Make or Break with Engagement and Maintenance
The previous steps in ORM are relatively easy, and can be completed within a short time frame. It’s the ongoing management that’s going to make or break your whole strategy. When we talk about research, setup, and publication, what is the point if you don’t continually manage your reputation, while engaging your customers online? Both of these elements are essential in maintaining a positive reputation.
- Engagement. Engagement flows naturally from all of your previous effort. You should be tweeting regularly, updating your Facebook account and posting your blog and forum articles. Not only that, you need to actively engage your customers in the process. Respond to questions and comments, grow your network of friends and followers, run competitions if you have the means. Everything you do here based around the online community will engage the audience and bring them closer to your business.
- Maintenance. Online reputation marketing doesn’t just end with the posting of your content. It’s not a set and forget venture. Successful businesses will maintain their reputation throughout their existence. Stopping any part of the process at any point could severely impact your reputation with customers. New research may be required when you open new lines of business or release new product sets, and as new delivery methods emerge, your content and social media strategy may change. Companies that pay close attention to their ORM strategy are the ones who come out best off in a competitive online community.
Go Ahead, Search for Your Company Online
Look up your company in any of the major search engines like Bing and Google. What do you find there? Do you have a strong presence around your expected keywords? Do you find any publicity about yourself, positive or negative? What you find is what your customers will find. If you’re not getting a good impression from what you see, how can you expect your customers to choose you over the competitors, who are literally just a click away?
Use our free tool to check your online reputation here.
If you want your customers to notice you, and most importantly, choose to do business with you, then you need to implement Online Reputation Management now.
We’re an online marketing agency and are experts in ORM & online reputation marketing. We can help you improve and manage your reputation online, and we do ORM the right way. We’re offering free consultations to show you what we can do for your business, so why not give us a call on 979-314-7213, or drop us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org today.