Online Reputation Management: Building and Repairing Trust

Sir Winston Churchill once famously quoted “It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required”. How is this related to marketing? It is, in a big way!!

Digital Marketing is steadily gaining a lot of importance in an organization’s overall marketing strategy. These processes, many a times go hand in hand with various traditional marketing activities that have worked over the past many decades.

Today, marketing in cyberspace mainly consists of generating leads to increase ROI and to improve visibility through social to be connected with your target audience. This is done through a mix of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), running Ads on relevant websites and having a comprehensive SMM (Social Media Marketing) in place to satisfy these needs. This data can again be analysed through Web Analytics to deduce plausible conclusions and decide what’s working best for your company/brand. All this written above has its focus on two elements viz. Growth and Prosperity; but in all this we tend to forget a very important third element; as explained below.

Now, in the olden days, if a consumer wanted to buy a particular commodity or avail of a particular service, the first thing that he would do after selecting 2-3 choices would be to ask his peers, family or his friends for an “OPINION”. This opinion would then direct our consumer to a particular desire as per his want to satisfy his need. So, why this “OPINION” that I stress on has become so important? The Science of Human Psychology would give a theoretical explanation to this, but in simple terms it’s all because of TRUST. Let alone a consumer, an employee wanting a shift in his career and work environment would rely on this TRUST in his friend or potential future company to make his decision.

A study done in 2001by Florida State University which was published in the Review of General Psychology asserts that “Bad emotions, bad events, and bad feedback have more impact than good ones”. With the Internet and the World Wide Web growing, all this negativity gets a platform to put forth itself for the world to see. Search Engines like Google and Bing add fuel to this fire by promoting and pushing all this negativity higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) for relevant terms. Consider this scenario, you have your marketing working perfectly for you (i.e. bringing your consumer one step away from his purchase) and then he wants an OPINION on his potential purchase (many consumers love a second opinion) and happens to read a dissenting piece of information that is related to his potential purchase. This end result, I need not say more!!

What went wrong here? Was it that I’m not a good marketer? Is my product/service not up to my consumers’ expectations?

In many cases that would not be the case, as the internet thrives on information, which in many cases may not be authentic? Negative Criticism is usually portrayed by the harshest of words which penetrates into the consumers mind frame and relieves it of all previous information that the marketer pushed to fill his target consumer with. All this happened due to a simple “LOSS of TRUST”.

This is where the concept of ORM (Online Reputation Management) comes into play. If, I know that my TRUST factor is taking a beating online and all my marketing efforts are being dissolved due to this, I need to take reactive measures to subdue this and in the best case eradicate this. Eradicating information not owned by you on the internet is a massive task and can take ages. ORM thus focuses on doing the next best thing.

We locate the cause of our negativity and concentrate our efforts to:

  1. Convert that Negativity to Neutrality
  2. Push that Negativity to a corner where little/no consumers will have the patience to go and read it
  3. Portray the exact truth in the form of positive information to achieve the above two points

This in its entirety done in cyberspace over time helps relieve the negativity, boost positivity and help you concentrate on your primary objective of increasing ROI.

Another thing that ORM also achieves in the process is that, by reducing negativity and increasing positivity over the internet, you are not only conforming yourself to the objective of removing negativity; but also in turn are unknowingly spreading awareness about your company/brand/product/service where its visibility has maximum impact and thus attain overall online visibility and in cases, very qualitative leads in the process. All this, by simply doing what is required at the need of the hour to repair “BROKEN TRUST”.

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