Online Reputation Management – The Clash of PR With The Digital World

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For the majority of Bulgarian businesses, online reputation management is pretty much a myth. Some managers consider it completely enough to just monitor corporate social media activity, while for others ORM is connected primarily to PR.

In fact, online reputation management can drastically affect the quality of your business and the level of your sales. Nowadays, if you have a business, people will definitely talk about it!

If you have a business, people will talk about it!

Just a few years ago the Internet, as a business platform, was something radically different. Companies received long-term passive income from their online presence, and people couldn’t express their thoughts and emotions in the way they do now on social networks.

Fortunately, things have changed. Today’s websites aren’t designed like leaflets, and frequent activity on social media is crucial for every successful business. No matter how big it is, all of them – your clients, users and even your potential customers already talk about your company.

If you think that you’ll succeed without listening to the opinion of those who want to work with you – think again! Tweeting about your last product is plain easy, commenting your latest blog post takes almost no effort, and one nice word on Facebook can open many doors.

Learn how NOT to manage your online reputation!

Most companies got carried away while using the “Be transparent!” slogan, starting to lead too much of an open dialogue with their clients. That eventually ended in abject failure. Enterprises had absolutely no idea about the opinion of some of their dissatisfied clients, who were waiting for a suitable opportunity to show their disappointment. Nowadays, no one will save their criticism towards your brand or business. Such are the occupational hazards once you take the step to online transparency.

 

 

Before you welcome ‘the language of open doors’ think about how you could answer the following questions:

  • Could your product or service spark some criticism?
  • Do your employees know what to do on social media?
  • Do your competitors pose direct risk?

Managing your online reputation is inextricably linked to thorough planning and making a content strategy, because the correct content would save you from troubles with the above scenarios.

10 rules about Online Reputation Management

As a matter of fact, your buisness’ online reputation is merely a tiny part of its overall public image. Nevertheless, it’s still very important. Let’s not forget that reputation (just like trust) can take a lot of time and resources to build, but can be lost in a split of a second. Especially nowadays, since the Internet is a global power and an important catalyst for the freedom of speech and expression.

Let us show 10 tips on ORM to reference to every time you get down to managing your brand’s reputation (both on- and offline).

1. Respect is the one key factor to a successful ORM.

Respect is the hardest asset to create and manage. Broadly speaking, if you earn someone’s respect from the very beginning, you can easily call yourself a winner. But if you don’t nurture and ‘take care’ of earned respect, you can easily lose it. The same goes for online reputation management.

Keep in mind that your online communication is always on record, and that you should always keep your word. To try to lie, or to present someone else’s work for your own.

2. Always be honest

Typically, customers like to experience a human interaction, while doing business with you. In that sense, honesty is a main trait of pure and transparent interpersonal relations. Being objective, sincere and open-minded are among the best strategies for managing your reputation in the online world. Do not forget to talk openly about your own mistakes, and to stand up against things you consider wrong.

3. Listen to feedback

Social media is today’s merit for evaluating how successful your brand is and whether it’s living up to customer’s expectations or not. Clients would probably ask you a question or two on Facebook or Twitter, before finalizing their purchase. If they’re not buying your products afterwards, then you’re doing something wrong. Listen to them!

4. Fast and polite responses

Your clients criticizing your business is part of the deal. If a customer takes their dissatisfaction from an experience with your product online you should at least reply, quickly and politely, that you know about said problem (even if there isn’t any) and you’re working on it. No excessive apologies, no breaking from responsibility. Nobody cares where the obstacle comes from as soon as it’s overcome.

5. Address criticism

Of course, you can stand up to everything that doesn’t meet your expectations, too, whether you’re using your own name (like a manager or CEO) or then one of your brand. Let’s say that the latest changes in trade laws are inadequate to the business realities and macroeconomic environment. Then, you can seek responsibility from (and criticize on) the respective parties. Such a move can draw some attention to the problem, pair you up with like-minded people and organizations, as well as to boost your trustworthiness in the eyes of your customers.

6. You and Google’s results

Each and every one of your potential customers will judge you based on your first impression. If you brand name stands next to words like ‘fraud’ and ‘shady business’ in Google’s search results, then don’t expect even moderate success, especially if you have a digital business.

7. Find the roots of negative feedback

As already mentioned, criticism towards your company is just business. However, make sure you take the best out of it, and alter your future efforts according to what customers tell you. That way you can establish a functional dialogue between your enterprise and your clients, indicating that not only are you ready to change, but you’re willing to tailor your product to their needs.

You should always consider criticism positively. In time, you’ll be able to make a comprehensive list of various activities, which turned out ineffective, and you’ll get to see all possible ways to make your integrated marketing communications more effective. Even Johnny Walker’s elegant slogan – “Keep Walking” is a result of decades of positive and negative corporate experiences.

8. Attack The Illegitimate

The Illegitimate are those employees, whose names and personalities aren’t directly connected to your brand’s reputation, but can damage it eventually. For instance, in 2009 Domino’s was a victim of an utterly negative PR campaign. Some of the company’s workers uploaded a series of shocking videos showing them ‘having fun’ with Domino’s products before delivering the orders to customers. This led to financial damages for Domino’s, while the company filed ten lawsuits to its then former employees.

If such people work for your enterprise, you really need to tell them goodbye as soon as possible. One wrong action and they could completely destroy your reputation, brand, and even your business. You don’t want this, do you?

9. Learn from your mistakes

The core element of every business organization is the people in it. They are not robots, and therefore, your enterprise cannot be a flawless machine forever. This is why, issuing a positive statement on mistakes being a normal part of business and creative processes should be important while managing your online reputation. Even though a small mistake may well turn out to be quite expensive for your company, keep in mind that sometimes making one is the best thing you could possibly do. But, at the end of the day, it’s crucial to learn a lesson out of it.

10. Ask for help

Not everyone is suitable to manage online reputation. Even you as a business owner may not have what it takes to be a PR or online reputation manager. This is completely natural.

Instead of feeling intimidated by this fact, you should realize that no matter how skillful you are, sometimes you need help. And when it comes to ORM choose an established professional with extensive PR experience to give you a hand.

 

The success of every business endeavor of yours, which includes your clients, is based primarily on your good reputation. However, don’t always expect that everyone will share your views or be by your side. Also, you should as well take into account that reputation management and driving customer satisfaction sell a lot more than your sole product.

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