The ongoing pandemic has disrupted industries worldwide and the importance of maintaining a seamless brand reputation online cannot be stressed enough. Brand communications (internal and external), therefore, must strive to be thoughtful, sensitive and try to touch the right chord in these times of adversity.
The digital world is evolving at an unprecedented pace. Enormous amounts of data are being created on the internet everyday. That, however, also makes a brand vulnerable as users can post scathing comments to tarnish its image. The proliferation of the digital medium has significantly increased the risks for a brand and hence there is a great need to manage a company’s reputation online seamlessly. If unattended or not acted upon swiftly, it is capable of completely damaging a brand’s credibility and impact the bottom line quite severely causing substantial loss of revenues to the business. Online reputation management involves managing a brand’s reputation immaculately in the entire digital ecosystem. It entails monitoring a brand’s image online, dealing with negative sentiments, and creating a favourable brand impression. In contemporary times, we’ve seen ORM gaining prominence and is at the top of the agenda of every firm irrespective of its scale and size.
Seamless ORM = Improved Bottom line
- Crisis Communication: It is extremely important to comprehend that a negative sentiment expressed in any form can destroy a brand’s reputation. It bears a direct connection to sales, longevity, loyalty, and trust. Liasoning with different departments such as legal, HR, and other relevant ones is important to get a holistic view of the situation and seek end to end closure. Also, time is of the essence here as delay in response may exacerbate the situation. Therefore, working with alacrity is indispensable for a smooth ORM and growing the brand.
- Editorial Calendar: Creating a content calendar can be helpful to better plan and organise your content flow throughout the year. Engage your current audience by producing enthralling relevant content. It’s essential to not think of sales all the time and be human, more so in an unprecedented humanitarian crisis triggered by COVID-19 when so many people have lost their lives. It will certainly enhance the brand relatability quotient and consequently, brand equity. Also, make sure that the content to be published is proofread thoroughly and free of grammatical errors.
- Social Listening: It is the process of scanning the web for brand mentions to “listen” to what the world is saying about your brand. It covers online journals, blog, articles, review sites, among others. This could also help in strategising better by incorporating the world view.
- Marketing Automation: It means automating your tasks so that everything is in place and in order. For ORM and listening purposes, we generally use automation tools like Sprinklr, Meltwater, Talkwalker, Mentions, Google Alerts, etc. There are quite a few of them available in the market but for me, Sprinklr stands out for its holistic approach. Automation helps you pick up customer queries/complaints in real-time and respond swiftly.
Managing ORM is a company-wide responsibility:
For effective reputation management, there must be constant collaboration between different departments of a firm. It is NEVER a one-man/department task.
- Inputs from Legal, Marketing (Public Relations), HR and other relevant departments is key to a high impact ORM strategy
- Responses to affected parties need to meet audience expectation, local laws, and business goals
- Timing is of the essence- if issues are not neutralised/taken offline in time, we cede control to outside parties
- Overall, great customer service systems ensure ORM remains an occasional skirmish, else, it’s a daily battle
General Rules for Responding to Negative Feedback:
- Respond to queries/comments swiftly
- Don’t delete comments unless absolutely necessary.
- Don’t respond with just an automated message
- Be human & show authorship
- Give a personalised experience to the user
- Don’t get into any tussle or online arguments
- Try to resolve sensitive issues offline
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