Online reputation management may be one of the most useful tools to business looking to extract a value out of social media. Continuous monitoring of what people are saying about your brand, product or service can provide incredibly valuable insight into how you are perceived in the market.
After all, perception is reality – at least in the world of marketing. How we are perceived in the market is all that really matters. If we have the best product but no one think we do then we don’t make the sale. Lesser quality products often have better sales purely based on the perception that they are better.
I have heard an argument since the “dawn of online reputation management” that you can use ORM to engage and speak to your customers. While this may be true, I don’t think it is the main benefit.
People who talk about brands are not necessarily speaking to brands. In decades past people could be found talking about your company offerings to friends and family without your involvement and this had an impact on your brand. You were not able to defend yourself then – so should you defend yourself now?
Just because we can does not mean its clever. I could start a band and go on a tour of South Africa but it does not mean that its a clever use of my time.
I would suggest that the best use of online reputation management software is not to defend your brand, product or service against abuse. Rather it should be used as a research tool to identify public opinion of the value you have to offer.
If you are perceived to offer little value levels shift your focus onto yourself and ask if the way you are perceived is true or not. If true, start a process of finding ways to offer value back into the market. If false, then look at a PR or marketing campaign that can correct the general opinion.
Online Reputation Management is hugely valuable and I believe that every business should be investing in it. However the focus should be to use the data collected to improve as a business and not to simply present our case to our customers.