Effective ORM Strategies
According to recent research, 97% of business owners believe that online reputation management, or ORM, should be an important part of their corporate strategy.
Yet, this is one of those approaches that’s often easier said than done.
You know that ORM is essential to the longevity of your company, but you’re unsure where to begin. In fact, you aren’t even sure what kind of reputation is following your company in the first place.
No fear! Today, we’re discussing the steps that comprise an effective ORM strategy. None is too difficult or time-consuming, but all of them can help shape the conversation surrounding your brand and make it as positive as possible.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
The Five Phases of an ORM Strategy
Especially if you’ve just discovered a piece of bad press about your business, you might be tempted to jump the gun and respond in a hasty manner. Yet, unless you have a dedicated strategy in place to manage your online business reputation, those efforts could do more harm than good.
To that end, let’s take a look at five pillars that create a successful ORM strategy.
1. Reputation Research
Every reputation management strategy begins the same way: You have to conduct research to understand the current public perception surrounding your brand.
Though it might sound laborious, this step is actually fairly easy. The internet makes it simple to find what people are saying about you, whether it’s good or bad or anywhere in between.
Begin by conducting a simple Google search.
Before you do, consider all of the search terms that web users might use to find out more about your company. These might include:
- Your business name
- Variations on your business name
- Key titles
- Major products or services
- Any other term associated with your business
Then, use these keywords to run multiple searches. Take note of any negative mentions you find.
Optimizing Your Online Ranking
If you’re not ranking in the top position for your brand, it’s usually due to one of these three issues:
- Your website isn’t indexed
- You have a Google penalty against you
- Your website is devoid of backlinks
If it’s the backlinks that are keeping you down, there are myriad ways you can earn or build them to gain more organic traffic.
Ideally, the rest of your brand mentions on page 1 of Google will be sites that you “own” such as your:
- Twitter profile
- LinkedIn profile
- Facebook profile
- YouTube channel
Make sure you’re active on all of these channels and that your profile information is as up-to-date as possible. Then, add social media buttons to your website that make it easy for users to access those profiles. You can also link to them on other third-party websites (such as business directories) on which you’re registered.
As you increase your online visibility this way, Google will catch on and recognize these profiles as yours, increasing their odds of appearing on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Why go to all of this trouble? If someone Googles your brand and the first page is full of your “owned” pages, any negative feedback is subsequently pushed lower.
Branching Outside of Google
It’s important to know where to find your content online, and Google is an excellent resource in this regard. However, you should also take into account where your target audience hangs out.
Are they talking about your brand on social media? What about on online forums or review sites? The answer will help dictate where you focus a majority of your research.
For instance, if you’re in a B2C service industry, you’ll be most interested in business review sites, where people can give their honest feedback on their experience with your company. This means in addition to checking Google, you’ll also take a close look at Yelp, Angie’s List, ConsumerAffairs, the Better Business Bureau, and more.
In addition, if you specialized in physical products, you should monitor Amazon, eBay, and other e-commerce retailers, as well. Before you move on to the next stage, check blogs, too. These provide writers with an open book in which to wax poetic about the great experience they had with your company or run it into the ground.
Though it might be painful, you’ll need to see the entirety of the current feedback so you can move forward in a new direction.
Removing Negative Content
In the event that you find content that is untrue or misleading in a negative way, there’s a chance you can have it removed. While this might be possible through the website’s publisher, there are also ways to eliminate it from Google search results.
If you’re working with an ORM agency, these representatives can file a DCMA Takedown notice on your behalf. Legal reputations solutions such as these are best handled by professionals with vast industry experience.
For the most part, however, your agency will work with you to turn the negatives into positives. This might mean helping you craft a stronger response strategy or suppressing the negative review with plenty of great ones!
2. Developing a Response Plan
It’s great to know what people are saying about your brand online. However, that’s only the first step. Now, you need to plan out how to respond to the information you found.
Before you go any further, call together an in-house team to handle this effort. As a beneficial alternative, you can also call an ORM agency that can handle all the legwork for you.
Regardless of the route you choose, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- Who will monitor my online presence for comments and reviews?
- Who will decide whether new social media comments will require a response?
- Who knows what position our company takes on potential issues or questions?
- Who will deliver that response?
Of course, if you’re a small startup, your answer to all of these questions might be “Me!” Yet, if your organization has the bandwidth, it’s best to have a plan.
3. Set an Approach for Negative Comments
You could be the best company in the world and still receive a one-star review from a jilted customer. Rather than logging in and deleting it right away, take a step back and reconsider how it can actually help your business image.
Negative comments and low feedback scores give you a unique opportunity to change someone’s mind. This is your chance to impress and win over your hardest critics.
In the end, the effort pays off. If you can maintain a polite, friendly and professional tone, even when tensions rise and feelings get hurt, you’ll come out on top.
Your ORM agency can walk you through a step-by-step process for responding to negative comments with class. Rather than taking anything personally or taking major offense at every turn, remember to keep a cool and level head.
Tell the reviewer that you heard the complaint and that you’re listening. Then, provide the name of the person on your team who will be reaching out to make it right.
4. Accentuate the Positives
We all have elements about our business that we hope someone notices. The customer service team is top-notch. The project turnaround time is lightning-quick. The entrees are fantastic.
While you never want to ignore bad comments, the same holds true with anything positive that passes over your desk. Don’t ignore it or sweep it to the side!
In addition to thanking everyone that leaves a kind review, you can also position that positive energy to snowball into an even greater avalanche of customer satisfaction.
There are two ways you can approach this. Let’s take a look at each one.
Online Profile Management
Have you heard of the 1/9/90 rule in social media marketing?
This rule maintains that of the billions of people who log onto the internet every day, only 1% of them actively create content. In addition, 9% will contribute only a moderate amount and 90% are silent observers who will absorb content for hours each day and never contribute to it.
It’s with this 90 % that you should focus your efforts. While someone from the 1% of creators might leave you a new review, don’t rely on that activity to propel you along. Rather, it’s time to take proactive control.
Reclaim your online business listings and social media profiles. Enhance them with pictures, make sure the data is correct, and create interesting and informative content that you can share on these platforms (e.g. blog posts, webinars, podcasts).
Ask for Feedback
Along the way, don’t be afraid to ask patrons to leave their honest feedback on how they perceive your brand and your corner of the internet.
This is an especially helpful approach in a one-on-one situation. For instance, if one of your customer service representatives helps a client with a challenging IT project, he can ask for a review at the end. A personal request is often more convincing than an automated email asking for feedback within a given timeframe.
5. Make the Changes and Monitor Results
Finally, it’s important to make sure you’re really making the changes that you promised.
Did you offer that unhappy client a promotional code? When you told a disgruntled customer that you’d speak to a particular employee about an incident, did you actually hold that meeting?
Your customers are shrewd and they can spot a fake from a mile away. If you fail to carry through on your claims, it won’t take long for them to use their misplaced trust as leverage against your brand.
Take the time to develop a plan that details how you’ll make good on every claim. Try not to overpromise in an effort to quell negative feedback. Your responses should be realistic and do-able within the realm of your current capabilities.
Monitoring Your Success
Once you have a system in place to actively respond to all issues that pertain to your reputation management, it’s important to monitor its effectiveness. If you’re investing in ORM services in the first place, it’s because you want your reputation to move in an upward motion.
How can you tell if it’s heading in that direction?
If you use a monitoring tool, this step is straightforward. Most of these will reference the scoring system used by online review sites. As your reviews become more positive in nature, your score will likewise improve. Watching that number move from three stars to five stars or from 50% satisfaction to 75% satisfaction, you’ll know that you’re heading in the right direction.
Along the same line, most social media platforms include integrated sentiment analysis capabilities. For instance, Facebook has a tool called Facebook Insights.
With a few clicks, you can monitor the type of feedback that each of your posts receives. This can be an invaluable way to see what kind of content your target audience responds the best to and which they don’t.
Strategize Your ORM Approach with Us
A shiny, successful brand reputation doesn’t happen out of the blue. Rather, it takes a concerted effort and focused strategy that involves everyone on your team.
At the end of the day, your ORM strategy revolves around listening to what people are saying about you and putting steps in place to gently direct that conversation in a positive direction.
Need some help making that switch? That’s where we come in.
We’re ORM experts and we’re ready to help your brand enter the limelight, unburdened by negative Google search results, false reports or any defamation that’s holding you back.
Contact us today and step into the image you deserve.