There is a strong correlation between online reputation management and brand perception. In fact, online reputation management (ORM) can be defined as practices and strategies employed to control brand perception online. This article looks at how to use online reputation management to influence your brand perception positively and effectively.
Did you know?
- 97% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase, and 85% seek out negative reviews before making a purchase – PowerReviews.
- 91% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations – Search Engine Journal.
- A single negative review can cost a business up to 22% of its customers.
The numbers above demonstrate how important it is to keep a good online reputation because a business’s reputation ultimately has financial implications. For example, the year 2017 saw a tumultuous period for United Airlines when a video depicting a passenger’s violent expulsion from his seat circulated rapidly online, causing a national uproar. The company’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, was widely condemned for his ineffective handling of the crisis. As a result, United’s stock took a hit, plummeting 4% following the incident, corresponding to a possible loss of as much as $1 billion in the company’s market value.
Online Reputation Management and Brand Perception
Online reputation management (ORM) refers to the process of monitoring and influencing how you or your business is perceived online. This includes everything from your website and social media profiles to reviews on third-party sites like Yelp or Google. The goal of ORM is to ensure that your online presence accurately reflects who you are and what you stand for while addressing any negative or false information circulating online.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”Seth Godin
Brand perception, which refers to how consumers perceive and evaluate a brand based on factors such as its products or services, marketing campaigns, and online presence, is a crucial aspect of online reputation management (ORM). To effectively manage their online reputation and build a positive perception in the minds of their customers, businesses and individuals must understand the principles and psychology behind brand perception.
Cognitive Bias and Brand Perception
Cognitive biases are mental shortcuts that our brains use to process information quickly. These biases can have a significant impact on brand perception. For instance, the availability heuristic is a mental shortcut involving using the first examples that come to mind when judging a topic, idea, method, or decision. This means that if someone sees negative information about a brand online early in their customer journey, they may assume that the brand is inherently negative, even if plenty of positive information is available.
Another cognitive bias that affects brand perception is confirmation bias. This bias happens when people look for information that backs up what they already believe and ignore information that goes against what they already think. If someone doesn’t like a brand, they might look for bad things to say about it and ignore the good things.
Perception and Emotional Triggers
Emotions drive humans. Research suggests that 95% of purchasing decisions are made on a subconscious level. Emotional triggers are powerful tools for creating brand perception. People are more likely to remember experiences that evoke strong feelings, whether positive or negative. A brand that invokes positive emotions in its customers, such as excitement or happiness, can build a loyal following. On the other hand, a brand that creates negative emotions, such as frustration or disappointment, can damage its reputation and lose customers.
The Role of Social Proof
Social proof is the idea that people are more likely to trust something if they see that others also trust it. In the context of brand perception, this means that positive reviews, ratings, and testimonials can be powerful tools for building a positive reputation. This is because they can give people a sense of social approval and make it more likely that others will do the same. On the other hand, negative reviews or a lack of social proof can harm a brand’s reputation.
Top 10 Strategies for Effective Online Reputation Management
Managing your online reputation is critical to building a positive brand perception. Below are some proven strategies you can implement immediately;
1. Start With a Great Product or Service
A positive reputation can only be built on the foundation of providing a product or service that meets or exceeds customer expectations. Positive feedback, reviews, and social proof are all by-products of delivering excellent products or services, while negative feedback can quickly damage a brand’s reputation. Several recommendations are listed below for managing reputation. But a great product or service should always be the priority for individuals and businesses looking to build and maintain a positive online presence.
2. Audit Your Online Reputation
Auditing your online reputation is a crucial first step in managing your online presence effectively. An online reputation audit involves assessing your online presence, identifying any negative or false information, and determining areas for improvement. This audit can include monitoring search engine results, social media profiles, review sites, and news articles. By auditing your online reputation, you can clearly understand how you or your business is perceived online and develop a plan to address any issues.
3. Build a Strong Online Presence
With the information from an online reputation audit, you can figure out where to put your efforts to build a strong online presence, which is important for shaping positive brand perception. This includes creating a website and social media profiles that adequately represent your brand and accurately reflect who you are and what you stand for. Your online presence should be consistent, visually appealing, and easily understood. Your brand personality, communications, and tone of voice should also be consistent across all channels. You might want to think about the feelings you want your brand to evoke and make sure that these feelings are consistent across all channels and touchpoints.
4. Monitor Your Online Presence
Monitoring your online presence is important for shaping a positive brand perception. Keep tabs on what’s being said about you or your business online. This includes social media platforms, review sites, and search engine results. As part of a much-recommended Social Listening strategy, you can set up Google Alerts for your name or business name and use social media monitoring tools to keep track of mentions.
5. Encourage Positive Reviews
Positive reviews are a powerful tool for shaping positive brand perception. Encourage happy customers to leave reviews on third-party sites like Yelp, Google, or Facebook. You can also include a call-to-action in your marketing campaigns or on your website, asking customers to leave a review. You can build social proof and increase customers’ trust in your brand by highlighting positive reviews.
6. Address Negative Comments or Reviews
If you receive negative comments or reviews, addressing them promptly and professionally is essential. Don’t shy away from taking responsibility for any issues. Respond swiftly, communicate clearly and offer a solution where possible. By showing that you care about your customers and are willing to make things right, you can often turn a negative situation into a positive one.
7. Provide Exceptional Customer Service
Exceptional customer service can help build a positive brand perception. Respond to customer inquiries and complaints promptly and professionally. Offer personalized solutions to customer issues and go above and beyond to exceed their expectations. You can build a loyal following and increase the likelihood of positive reviews by providing exceptional customer service.
8. Leverage Influencers and Brand Advocates
You can leverage others’ positive reputations to build yours. Influencers and brand advocates can help build a positive brand perception by promoting your products or services to their followers. Identify influencers in your niche and reach out to them about potential collaborations. Brand advocates, or loyal customers, can also be leveraged to promote your brand. Offering incentives for referrals or running social media contests can encourage brand advocacy.
9. Maintain Consistency
Building a positive online reputation is about building trust and loyalty, which means consistency is critical. If a brand’s messaging, values, and online presence don’t match up, it can cause confusion and a disjointed customer journey that makes people less likely to buy. By creating a consistent message and experience across all online platforms, businesses can create a strong brand perception that is easy for customers to understand, remember, and recommend to others.
10. Seek Professional Help
If managing your online reputation feels overwhelming or time-consuming, as they generally do, consider seeking professional help from an ORM expert. ORM companies can provide expert guidance and handle the heavy lifting for you. They can monitor your online presence, address negative feedback, encourage positive reviews, build a solid online presence, and provide ongoing support.
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