No matter who you are or how small your business is, digital presence is the bedrock of modern times. Having said that, it’s important to mull over Online Reputation Management (ORM) as an indispensable component to any digital strategy chalked for success.
Market reports indicate how almost 65 percent of Indians on an average prefer using social media for both purchase recommendation as well as after-sales service. Globally, 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Why has it become vital to have an ORM strategy for brands?
● With an increasing number of customers voraciously looking for information online, it does become vital to have an ORM strategy for big and small brands alike because consumers now have the same expectations in terms of quality and customer service from small brands as they do from big
● Conversations on social media are not restricted to big brands. People talk about all brand experiences and they are communicating with brands with the help of social media. Thus, having a strong social media marketing plan and presence on the web is one of the best ways to grab their interest
● Small brands which tend to not have huge budgets for advertising rely heavily on word of mouth and social media for new business. If their online reputation is hurt, there primary channel for new business will be impacted resulting in loss of revenue
● Small brands given their size are also more vulnerable and stand a smaller chance of recovering than big brands if there is customer attrition on account of the loss of reputation
So what can small brands do?
● Every business today small or big need to leverage proper social media channels in the best possible way. Not because it’s the “in thing”, and not because it sounds simple, but because their target audience is hanging around the popular social networks. Monitor all social media conversations about them and be prepared for anything that could hurt their brand reputation
● Educate employees on what kind of behavior can lead to loss of reputation and on how to guard against it
● Cultivate a band of loyalists who you can turn to when times are tough to share your side of any negative story.
What is ORM anyway?
Good question! For starters, ORM is all about enhancing the reputation of your brand as you drive positive and impactful content along with steady redressal of customer complaints and queries in tandem. Such a system not only accounts for the credibility of your brand but also helps in monitoring brand sentiment, which is easy to topple and crush with a few negative comments. The need of the hour is constant monitoring of conversations to help maintain a brand image that is free from blemishes and gain a strong foothold online by effectively marketing yourself through social media channels, blogs, forums, communities, and review websites to name a few. One can also pick from multiple ORM tools designed to track, evaluate, analyse and monitor brand activity.
Why ORM is necessary for small brands
For any new entrant or small player in the market, building a brand identity is a mammoth task. It is as important as realising your business objectives as a single flaw in the fabric can break your band before you get a chance to build it. Some of the key pointers that small brands need to keep in mind while creating their image for digital success include:
● The Art of Listening– Listening is a skill that is seldom developed by people. Stating your views and opinions is good, but when you do that as a brand and turn a deaf ear to what people have to say about you, it can be a serious deal breaker. Listen to what customers have to say about your brand and take both positive and negative feedback in the same spirit. Try to figure out what is keeping you behind in the game. For any small brand investing in building an ORM strategy, this shouldn’t be an issue at all. Remember, this is an age where the customer ditches a Timex for an Apple Watch. They are intelligent enough to check and re-check reviews and recommendations across the Internet before any purchase, big or small. The inherent urge is a timely response to all queries and prompt redressal for post-sales grievances. Just in case, you are a B2C brand where the rate of consumer engagement is generally high; it’s a wise call to invest in an ORM tool to save time and spur the process. This shall not only help in retention of customer ensuring brand loyalty but also help in netting new prospects
● Reach out to Restore Confidence – One of the most commonly occurring mistakes with small brands is avoiding to pick up on customer complaints. Look around. There are thousands of posts present online where the customer is frantically looking for a solution to fix an issue with the product but to no avail. This is a serious mishap that marks your reputation in red. Never be afraid of a little bit of negative feedback. Try reaching out on a personal basis by dropping a formal and apologetic mail to or maybe call up to check on the issue. Try basic troubleshooting if it helps and if not always take the issue offline and get your gear down to resolve the problem once and for all. Such an approach would have the customer turned into a brand loyalist for good. Having an ORM strategy in place can help any small brand track and respond to customer complaints effectively
● Staying at the top of the game – With close to 91 million searches being performed on Google every day, staying ahead calls for a heart full of burden.
Well, not really. No matter how small you are as a brand, your digital presence demands need to be driven by content that is afresh and positive to the brim. A good approach is to maximise your leverage through effective SEO thus pushing down all negative remarks and comments that hangs around your brand like a millstone. Influencer Marketing is another great way to help boost your game by driving fresh content through blogs, reviews across social media platforms and other portals
ORM = Endless Customer Delight
Investing in building an ORM strategy for your brand ensures every single interaction made with customers turn out positive and meaningful in equal measures. In other words, ORM can help small brands parade towards market domination, gain prominence among local searches, actively monitor and respond to keep negative feedback thus adding shine to the brand image. In essence, it only builds your digital persona but helps inculcate a voice that people listen to, admire and adore in the long run.
Written by Dr Ranjit Nair,CEO and Founder of Germin8 Solutions