What is Online Reputation Management and why is it important for your brand?

In today’s internet age, we are continuously fed with information from day to night. There is just too much information on news sites and social media that it is almost impossible to keep tabs on. As a result, your brand may take a negative hit if your online reputation suffers due to scandals. Look no further than internet sensation PewDiePie. Even as the world’s most prominentYoutube personality, he couldn’t get away from bad publicity unscathed.
In fact, His scandal has cost him a major deal with one of the world’s biggest media companies: Disney. The deal was valued to be worth $675 million. While we won’t know whether the PewDiePie brand can survive this scandal, one thing is for sure – his reputation will never be the same again.
We should never underestimate the power of public scrutiny and social justice. People love scandals and sensationalist news. Whether it is from themselves or other people, careers and lives have been destroyed because of stupidity and mistakes. You need to manage your brand’s online reputation before it leaves your business in shambles. Whether the source of bad publicity came from you or from others, you need to keep it under control, or it will destroy your business or your reputation. This is where online reputation management comes in.
What exactly is Online Reputation Management?
Online Reputation Management (or ORM for short) is all about placing your brand as a credible and authoritative source. Whichever industry your brand belongs, it’s all about keeping the most relevant, constructive and positive news and information about your brandright at the top of search engine results. Whether it’s a simple search of your brand or a background audit, if a negative piece of publicity is the first thing on display, you are taking a massive risk of losing your business, and maybe more.
Who is online reputation management for?
Branding identity used to be reserved for corporations and organizations. But today this is no longer true. With the advent of social media, everybody is a representation of their own brand. It lets us stand out from the rest and market our skills. Having said that, managing your online reputation is for everyone who has a social media presence.
As long as you are on Facebook, Twitter or even if you own a blog – as long as you have an online presence, you need to take control of your online reputation. Even if you don’t run your own business, or aren’t a famous celebrity, managing your reputation well prevents scandals from sabotaging future opportunities like job offers, loan approvals, or even memberships into certain clubs.
Why is online reputation management necessary?
If the survival of your brand and reputation aren’t enough reasons to preserve the integrity of your online presence, here are more reasons why you should have a robust ORM in place for your business.
1. Increase Sales
Reputation can take many shapes, from Yelp reviews to Facebook comments. Everyone now does online research on any brand or product that they are unfamiliar with before they make their buying decisions. A 2012 study shows that consumer conversion rates nearly doubled when a 1-star product becomes 5-stars. The tendency for consumers to veer towards 5-star products indicates the presence of bias towards any brand before they commit their purchase. With reputation management, you can influence this bias in your prospects so you can be well-received, and make them reach for their wallets. 2. Build Trust and Credibility
A strong brand is about having the trust of your customers, and it is an essential component for business success. The explosion of social media use means that every single individual in your organization is an advocate for your brand, and if any member of your organization gets caught up in negative publicity, it spreads like wildfire. And when negative publicity strikes, your brand loses the confidence of the people. There is a chance that you will never be able to turn this ship around.
However, using ORM, you can recover from this negative publicity. Regaining and rebuilding trust from your target audience isn’t impossible (just ask Martha Stewart), but at what cost? You can put a broken vase back together, but you can never remove the cracks. Just like your online reputation, it is still the best if you didn’t break it in the first place. With proper ORM, you can construct a devoted customer base that speaks places your brand in a positive spotlight, which can subsequently lead to more sales through word-of-mouth.
3. Show off your brand’s best side
Your customers are not the only ones that will look into your online reputation. Present and prospective investors, financial institutes, even the government are all looking you up online before they agree to do any business dealings with you. Unless you are a globally recognizable brand, these investors are unlikely to know your brand well enough, and will often base their decisions on the information that is available to them.
Imagine coming across a brand that has zero positivepublicity, and has heaps of bad reviews instead. If you are looking to invest in this company, would you still feel at ease? In today’sinternet world, news travels at light speed. And bad news moves even faster. This is the reason why you need to feature your brand’s good side prominently and continuously using ORM. This way bad publicity and scandals cannot easily sideline your marketing efforts.
Don’t underestimate the value of ORM
The age of social media has armed every person today with a destructive weaponthat can cripple any brand within a few clicks. Customers today are empowered to spread any message, whether it’s good or bad, across the world. When harmful materials are shared on the web about your brand, chances areyou’ll end up losing loyalty and fans.
This can thus hit your brand where it hurts the most – itsreputation, and diluting its well-deserved goodwill. Therefore, ORM is vital to a brand's position in the online market. When done correctly, ORM strikes a balance between good and bad publicity, counteracts misleading trends, and allows your brand to put its best foot forward.