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Importance of ORM in today’s digital world

In today’s digital-first world, every entity – individual or corporate – has an online identity. That identity is often what showcases credibility, be it a Facebook profile, a LinkedIn profile, comments and posts on various social media platforms or a thought leadership blog. These profiles build up gradually over the years and take shape of a distinctive persona of the individual or brand. This is also known as a digital footprint.

Understanding this space and engaging smartly can go a long way in paying rich dividends over time. The pandemic struck suddenly resulting in the overnight phenomenon of work from home and prompting netizens to spend more time online. This has resulted in heightened activity on social media platforms among both individuals as well as companies. What one needs to remember is that this results in a digital footprint online which gets complex to change overtime. Online Reputation Management or ORM is a tool that can be used to effectively manage one’s online reputation.

By investing in online reputation management, you can proactively control what people see when they encounter your brand online while setting you up as a credible entity.

What constitutes online reputation?

Your online reputation is basically what people think of you when they search for you online. People can form impressions of you based on the content they see you share, as well as the feedback you receive from third parties. What your customers say about you in their reviews counts for a lot and can in fact be a make-or-break for prospective customers looking to buy from you. Mentions of your brand by other brands, websites and bloggers also count. SEO plays a big role in online reputation – most people will base their impressions of you on the first-page search results.

ORM for Individuals

It is very tempting to pass judgement or make comments about random topics that you see online. In fact, social media platforms encourage you to be vocal and engage a lot more. However, the downside of this is that opinions on controversial topics left online can impact your image, your career and social standing at times. You are well aware of the many sedition cases that get reported as a result of online posts which could have been inadvertent at times.

What is important is to step back and reflect on what ones social, personal and career goals are before actively engaging online.

Some tips for individuals to manage their online profiles –

  • Be positive – It always pays to have a general positive outlook on social platforms. It showcases you as a positive and forward looking individual.
  • Avoid Controversy – Try to avoid controversy as much as possible. While it is tempting to share your opinion, please remember that opinions are bound to change over time. Hence think twice before you comment.
  • Alcohol and social media don’t mix – it is well known that alcohol and social media are a dangerous mix. A few drinks down and you’re likely to share more than what you intend to. Hence keep your reputation intact by knowing your limits and sticking to it.
  • Choose your friends and affiliations carefully – Remember the first thing that prospective employers look for on LinkedIn are shared contacts. Like the saying goes, you are judged by the company you keep. While this need not be taken literally, it pays to be conscious.

How brands can build online reputation

The occasional bad review is unavoidable, and indeed, a too-perfect online footprint raises suspicions of its own. What is important for you as a brand is to take control of the narrative and to give buyers, competitors, influencers and media houses something positive to talk about. Here are some things to consider as part of a strategic approach to online reputation management.

  • Invest in paid media – To grab more eyeballs in search results, you can invest in Google AdWords and social media advertisements. Particularly when you are starting out, these will promote you to a broader audience than you can reach organically.
  • Ask your customers to leave reviews – Prospective buyers will give much greater weightage to customer reviews than to advertisements. Reach out to your current customers and request that they review you on Google My Business, Yelp and other relevant platforms.
  • Keep track of brand mentions – Tools like Mention of Google Alerts will send you notifications whenever your brand name, products or hashtags feature in third-party content. This way, you know who’s talking about you, and in what context, and over time this gives you insights on any specific problem areas and how you can address those.
  • Share quality content – By putting out relevant, informative and optimised content, you boost your chances of being discovered organically by people who like what you talk about. A tool like Google Keywords Planner will give you insights into what people are searching for and thus guide you on how to structure your content. To ensure consistency, it helps to have a clear content policy in place – particularly for social media, which is updated at least once a day – and to approve each new piece before it goes up.
  • Build a thought leadership blog – This is a must for brands that wish to be viewed as domain experts. Invest in crafting high-quality thought leadership blog posts, whitepapers and case studies that serve as one-stop shops for people seeking authority content. Thought leadership pieces also have a greater chance of being quoted or getting backlinks on other websites, increasing the number of positive mentions you get. Tools like Google Analytics will give you insights into the kind of long-form content your customers are likeliest to enjoy.

In conclusion, your online reputation is a powerful measure of your worth as a brand and can potentially make or break your relationship with followers. By keeping tabs on what’s being said at all times, you can create and share content that persuades followers to see you as you want to be seen.

The author is a content writer from Star Squared PR, one of India’s leading Online Reputation Management firms.