23 Sep Protecting Your Reputation Online while increasing ROI
Organisations often communicate via a few selected channels choosing to leave out certain channels of communication on the basis that they believe that they do not add value to their operations. We have had companies downplay the importance of a marketing department simply because they deem themselves to be a ‘specialist’ entity servicing a niche market with an overreliance on the quality of their products and services. These companies believe they have a very good relationship with clients which forms the basis of their stance towards marketing initiatives of not going beyond lunch meetings.
There are companies that see no need for a website as they believe it is a ‘nice to have’ reserved for public entities and government departments with a responsibility to report back to stakeholders. Despite their reluctance to adopt websites, they eventually do develop a web presence simply because everyone is doing it and they want to be ‘relevant’.
In 2018 we have no shortage of companies skating on thin ice as far as online reputational management is concerned. Entities need to realize that simply having a website serving as an online brochure is meaningless because they are not using that web presence effectively. We believe it is not too late for companies to start prioritizing their online reputational management. Companies that prioritize online reputation management will increase their return-on-investment (ROI) in line with their efforts.
Don’t give someone else the opportunity to manage your reputation
If you fail to manage your reputation, someone else will manage it for you and with disastrous consequences. A classic case is Coca-Cola who were not quick to harness the power of Facebook and only later realized that someone had created a page bearing their name. While there was no reputational damage because the creator was actually a big fan of the beverage maker, it could have been a totally different scenario had it been a disgruntled ex-employee with a score to settle. Managing your reputation gives you the opportunity to direct all stakeholders to official online company platforms and control the content of your communication while also responding to mentions on social media and limiting damage that can be caused by trolls.
Improved Reputational Management through Leadership
It is not business as usual, the days of company executives coming in through the helicopter pad and having their sentiments only heard in media interviews and annual general meetings are over. An entity’s leadership is now required to inspire confidence in those they lead and also keep the general public updated. We have witnessed some South African business leaders taking to social media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn to air their views on a range of issues affecting the country with the economy being discussed at great length. This leadership initiative forms part of reputational management because these business leaders now have an opportunity to comment without barriers which may result in their messages being distorted. Company executives should be active on social media and also become their brands’ official ambassadors initiating conversations and responding to queries.
Maximizing Reach through Integration
Entities should adopt an integrated marketing approach to maximize reach and stop working in silos. Online reputation management gives entities an opportunity to utilise multiple platforms in a campaign to maximise reach. Online platforms such as social media accounts and blog posts play an important part in increasing a website’s audience. A comprehensive social media strategy including industry specific blog posts coupled with search engine optimization (SEO) is a requirement for any company with the desire to leverage on their online reputation management.
Managing Reputation through Storytelling
Online reputation management presents an opportunity for brands to produce carefully crafted strategic messaging to draw an audience into engaging with them and eventually turn them into customers. Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your brand and is one of the main components of a content marketing approach. This form of content marketing has introduced a new communication dimension for entities complementing existing marketing techniques. Online platforms that can be utilized for storytelling include company websites, social media accounts, third party websites and employees’ blogs. Running campaigns across these platforms can maximize results for an improved ROI.
Online reputation management gives entities the added advantage of measurability in the form of tools designed to be a marketer’s best friend. Inbound marketing can be adopted to attract prospects and convert them into customers while also measuring their journey through the process. A key component of inbound marketing includes online platforms that can only be successfully leveraged through a comprehensive online reputation management strategy.
Companies should not adopt the wait and see approach only making the decision to give online reputation management a try when they see their customers migrating to their competitors. To achieve results requires extensive planning in consultation with experienced online reputation management specialists. Do not fall into the trap of giving this type of project to an intern because he/she has a good social media following. The entire company should form part of this process in order to achieve an improved ROI, increased content reach, better customer interaction, improved crisis communication and a myriad of other benefits that can all be tied to the improved management of your organisation’s online presence.