What Is an Online Reputation Specialist, and How Can They Help Your Brand?
The advent of the internet effectively created a single global marketplace for goods and services, an arena of competition between organizations, and a forum of public opinion too vast for anyone to know more than a tiny percentage of brands. The result is that 84% of consumers no longer trust ads.
Instead, they trust what other consumers say about a brand much more than it says about itself.
Consumers are used to checking reviews and star ratings or searching for brand names in conjunction with terms like “legit” or “scam” to establish their bona fides based on previous customer experiences. Jobseekers research companies before applying for positions and are intensely interested in your company culture.
If your brand is online, your brand has an online reputation – and you need to manage it carefully. Here’s how.
How Your Online Reputation Can Harm Or Help Your Brand
Your brand’s online reputation may be excellent thanks to the phenomenal service you deliver to your clients. Glowing reviews and testimonials show future clients that you can be trusted. A savvy social media presence develops your brand’s voice and helps you stand out to new customers.
On the other hand, a jealous rival or embittered former colleague may spread lies. A member of your team may let you down. A blogger might skip their research and inadvertently repost incorrect information about your company. This harms your brand’s reputation.
Online brand reputation goes beyond simple categories of good or bad. For your name to shine among a sea of competitors and attract customers and talent, you need brand management expertise to shape the public perception of your organization.
This ensures that potential clients and investors will only find information that is accurate, favorable, and in line with your culture and values.
Enter the Online Reputation Specialist
As with so many areas of expertise that a modern enterprise requires to stay in the lead, a gulf exists between understanding the basics of online reputation management (ORM) and being an expert. Modern enterprises necessarily comprise specialist teams while outsourcing non-core services to specialist firms.
Setting & Maintaining Values
You should set a company ethos of excellence in customer service and communication to attract consumers (and establish a corporate culture that attracts top talent). You should strive to keep up with industry trends.
But should your company have to execute brand management in-house? Doing so means devoting resources to staying on top of changes in online platforms and consumer opinions and preferences.
Savvy leaders prefer to hire an online reputation specialist whose core business is brand management. Their services to your brand are threefold:
- Tracking and analyzing online reputation metrics such as media mentions and consumer feedback (positive or negative)
- Managing your brand reputation by influencing these metrics
- Marketing your brand to create a unique perception in the public’s minds.
Having crafted a strategy to protect and enhance your brand image, an online reputation specialist helps coordinate the other experts promoting your company. This may include:
- Customer service teams
- Social media managers
- Content writers
- Web developers
- Media companies.
Monitoring and Managing Brand Reputation
An online reputation specialist uses tracking and analytical software to monitor all mentions of your brand across all publicly-accessible areas of the internet. They help determine whether a given comment is positive or negative.
Reputation Management Strategies
They apply brand management strategies to suppress negative information. This can be achieved by:
- Requesting search engines to de-index a particular webpage
- Requesting web admin takedowns
- Getting positive content to rank higher in the search results.
There are several means of defusing negative associations with your brand, but the focus should always be on promoting positivity. An online reputation specialist will push positive content to the forefront of your operation and arrange the creation of new, high-ranking positive coverage by content writers and social media managers.
Why is Suppressing Negative Content So Important?
The short answer – people love bad news. Psychologists refer to this as “negativity bias,” with studies showing that our brains are far more alert to bad news than to good.
Traditional media, such as newspapers and magazines, have long known that doom and gloom headlines sell far more copies than cheerful ones. We are more aware of angry faces than smiling ones, even as infants. It makes sense: detecting imminent danger or impending disaster is more essential to our survival than hearing that things are going well.
The upshot is that one negative association with your brand will outweigh several positive mentions. A brand management expert will help you create multiple positive pieces of content and optimize existing ones to push negative search results to the second or third page of Google, where very few search users venture.
Marketing Your Brand
It is never too early to build an excellent reputation. Whether launching a new venture or reinventing your brand, an online reputation specialist can work with you and your marketing team to define the brand’s essence and positioning in the marketplace. They are responsible for communicating this brand identity to the target demographics and promoting positive awareness.
It is also never impossible to lose an excellent reputation. No matter how many things you have done right over the years, no matter how passionate customers are about your brand, a single controversy could wreck your public image. On the other hand, active endeavors to maintain and grow your organization’s brand reputation benefit it more than a reactive response to a crisis.
Word-of-Mouth vs. Marketing
A study of the effects of electronic word-of-mouth, and differing responses to negative consumer reviews, offers an interesting conclusion. It suggests that fellow consumers who respond to the complaint by defending the brand will significantly impact brand perception. This makes sense since most people trust other customers’ ratings and reviews far more than a company’s own advertisements.
A brand management specialist can protect your company against false accusations and isolated incidents of malpractice or negligence. The customer service you provide to disgruntled customers is widely seen as the true test of a brand’s empathy. But ultimately, your online reputation depends on what your everyday fans say about you.
Proactive Reputation Management
An online reputation management service can use your current reputation to market you to untapped customer or talent sources. This will advance your interests rather than fighting a rear-guard action against attacks.
This is only possible if your existing reputation is generally positive, which depends on your customers and employees. Whether they are giving you glowing reviews or defending you against negative opinions, your following of fans depends on your integrity, service, and quality.
Benefits of Online Reputation Specialist Services to Your Brand
Having examined the rationale behind brand management and the broad thrust of strategies employed by online reputation specialists, let’s look at the benefits of their expertise.
Dedicated Detection of Negative Publicity
A reputable online reputation specialist provides round-the-clock vigilance over your brand, ready to act on anything that could harm your image.
Brand Reputation Defense
Instead of panicking when a crisis arises, your ORM specialist has contingency plans to contain damage to your reputation.
Higher Ranking in Search Engine Results Pages
Implementing search engine optimization to boost positive mentions and thus suppress negative ones has the desirable side-effect of elevating your profile in search engine results, leading to increased click-through rates.
Clarification of USP
An online reputation specialist can sharpen the public’s image of your brand, making you stand out from your competitors. In today’s crowded marketplace, a distinctive and memorable brand attracts more business and can also charge higher prices for its offerings.
Maintaining Customer Trust
By monitoring what your existing customers are saying, online reputation specialists, keep you informed about how your customers perceive your brand. This data allows you to:
- Maintain customer trust
- Enhance their experience of your brand through outstanding service or new products that meet their needs
- Encourage your clients to become your brand ambassadors
Relatable Brand Ambassadors
Loyal consumers are a source of repeat business and promote your brand through reviews, referrals, and recommendations.
Although many companies have pursued prominent social media influencers to promote their brands, the public is increasingly wise to influencers associated with brands. Everyday people, on the other hand, are seen as more trustworthy.
A favorable reputation on sites such as Glassdoor allows you to attract and keep extraordinary personnel. A good reputation also results in flourishing relationships with investors, suppliers, partners, and service providers. The result is that your enterprise is optimally positioned to grow.
Act Now to Enhance Your Brand Reputation
Building your online reputation is necessary to stay ahead of the competition. This means you can focus on the following:
- Nurturing loyal and talented employees
- Providing excellent products that meet a need
- Delivering superb customer service
- Securing sales and growing your brand!
Find more time for what you do best – let an online reputation specialist assist you with their insight into brand management strategy and tactics.