While in Airtel, I initiated, among other digital marketing initiatives, ORM (Online Reputation Management). In India there’s a fairly low level of awareness about ORM, and I thought it will be great to share my experiences and observations.
When I started this in 2007, I looked outside for reference, but didn’t get any! We may assume that this was one of the first ORM initiatives (if not the first) in India.
So here it goes, please do contribute, it will be great to assimilate different ideas:
Let’s start with understanding about Online Reputation Management?
Online Reputation management is the process of tracking our image and perception in the market among stakeholders, recording the relevant perception pointers and opinions in the market; and creating a response strategy and action plan to either strengthen the positive pointers or weaken the negative perception.
Since a large base of customers/prospects/stakeholders access and share information via websites/blogs and search engines, Search Engine Reputation Management (or SERM) tactics are one of the most integral part of an overall ORM strategy.
A typical ORM process entails 3 Prime Steps:
We need to monitor : Brand, Products, Company, Key Executives and may be competition.
The key vehicles/platforms to monitor: News, Blogs, Forums, Social Media and Search
Most of the reputation management companies (and Corporates) often indulge in reactive measures. What they end up doing is chasing the dissenters and do not put their brand in a position of control.
In-fact, in India a very common (and uneducated) response would be to ask one’s online agency to remove all bad content about oneself from all blogs in the world! (and also from Google) J.
A few others of similar variety would attribute negative imagery on blogs to competition, and would want the agency or online marketing division to retort back with greater vengeance!
While the competition may be involved in spreading a negative word about you, it will be wise to stay stoic and not indulge in a similar reactive strategy.
What many people forget is that the consumer or the reader is much smarter than what they think of him!
What one needs to have, instead is a well thought –out long term strategy to have their digital communication optimized, so that they are present in the form of blogs, articles, or video content across identified set of sites.
Once one starts participating in selected number of strategic sites, their content will grow, communities around these content areas grow, and subsequently this content starts featuring in search results. Since more sites with positive content will feature in search engine, the old negative content sites will automatically be pushed down.
Let’s say that we encounter a negative article on a blog, what do we do?
Should we react or should we wait before reacting
There’s a merit in understanding the situation
Research about the blogger or the blog owner or the comment source. Discuss the content/coment internally and verify it’s authenticity.
If you feel that the negative content is not genuine and then you should immediately ask the blog owner to remove the same. You should also, if possible, contact the comment owner privately and depending upon the gravity, warn and ask to publish an apology.
However if you find that there has been a mistake from your end, and the comment/content is genuine then you could do the following:
1. Write a mail privately to the person concerned and apologise. Show that you genuinely care and are concerned and offer to rectify or refund.
2. The above can be done in public also-no harm done. You can publicly state that you are listening and that you will be contacting the person soon. The idea is to let the world know that you track and listen to dissatisfied users. What solution you provide is something between you and your consumers.
3. If you feel that there are too many comments (negative) and it’s mushrooming up, then your strategy should be to invite the group member to YOUR OWN BLOG.
It’s always beneficial to break the momentum of a negative thread and deal it on your own turf.
The only advice that I can give here to the marketers is that nothing can replace a genuine concern and an , empathetic response .
A few tips to interact with negative blogs:
Investigate facts internally before taking action – could this be a competitor spreading rumour? Is there really something bad about a particular service which is being complained about?
Do not indulge in direct confrontation.
Explain what you have done to rectify any issue
Offer to resolve any complaints personally – have a senior-level staff member make the offer – try to continue discussion offline and utilize your allies.
Don’t create new “personas” to support your position in blogs, forums and message boards as you’ll likely be caught! As I said the reader/consumer is very smart!
Look forward to the 2nd and concluding part next week! I shall share my ORM Grid as well in the next part.
Resources: http://www.toprankblog.com, http://www.marketingpilgrim.com