Online Reputation Management for Businesses and Brands

Why businesses should be concerned about Online Reputation Management?

It is a no brainer that Social media today influences the actual buying decision and possible further recommendation by word of mouth which has more impact. This type of communication is bi-directional and iterative too.

Not only do people recommend; they substantiate it with in-depth assertion of their endorsement with evidence. They post immediate short tweets stating at a glance view, they upload related photos on Instagram and then tweet about it too, share detailed videos of the product in action stating its strong points or flaws, share expert knowledge in technical forums, write blogs or even create a dedicated website to help others reach a common homogenous platform. Each of these actions influences online reputation.

Purchase Decisions
People are religiously seeking opinion online before buying a Rs. 100 book, Rs. 20 lakhs car or industrial equipment worth crores. They do not get swayed by media or print ads or even hoardings making tall claims. "Googling" the keywords to seek info is the most common action. Online world is the source of authentic first-hand information of experience. Simply having a block-buster product is not an end, how its online reputation is managed determines its true success in the form of revenue. Amazon sends an email within days of buying a product from their site seeking inputs and experience about the same.

Customer Satisfaction
Customers are sharing their actual views about a product/ service/ brand or company which influences prospective customers and fence-sitters. Negative inputs in such cases can deeply tarnish a brand image. Imagine a product like water filter. If five people write negatively about a brand A and there are three others writing positively about brand B, the chances are much higher that the reader opts for brand B. Your brands online reputation is at stake. You really cannot do anything about what people say about it online.
Influencing Buying Behavior
You might have a standard LCD TV. There are higher chances of you opting for a LED TV if say five people in your social media circle have bought and recommended it. The recommendation swings your perception towards the product and influences a decision to buy it. Peer recommendation is more effective than bombardment of advertisement. Alternately, if users suggest that a particular brand is meaningless, the chance of its survival becomes bleak. People did not start using Tata Sky products because it is a Tata product. It was because few people tried it and then spread the good word.

Social media has provided an amazing platform to network with friends, business associates and people having similar interest or simply as Seth Godin would say to join a tribe. People are becoming friend of friends and the social circle is ever widening. This networking is not just to share jokes but to grow the domain of information. An ex-employee can discuss wrongful company policies on LinkedIn with his immediate circle. This information can easily reach a prospective employee who happens to be a 3rd or 4th level connection. The prospective employee might reject the job offer based on the online input.

Artificial Intelligence
The physical world has a property of being disjointed. It is practically impossible to gather everyone at the same time. The online world is the exact opposite where heuristics help link similar information to each other. Have you noticed how Facebook makes Friends suggestions to you every time you login? Similar comments or views about a brand effortlessly find their way on the same page with outbound links. Check any online news page; at the bottom you will see "Read related news" and a bunch of links to other similar articles. Observe the relevant Google ads that popup while you are surfing a specific page.
A simple keyword search on a search engine is enough to give you a reality check. With smart use of search engine optimization techniques, it is possible that negative sentiments top the list unless you have a strategy to counter this with your online reputation management initiative.

The bane and boon of Internet is anything can go viral – good or bad. Kolaveri di is one of the recent good examples or even the success of Korean Singer Psy’s Gangnam. Just as it rapidly shares good views it can create a viral movement of a company’s poor performance thus ensuring that the stock gets further hammered.

Next, find out how you can create a positive online reputation for your brand and how we can help