By Lize-Mari Labuschagne
In short, reputation management is an effort to influence what and how people think of a brand. What are people saying about you?
Managing the reputation of your brand is one of the core activities in communication management.
Character is who you are. Reputation is who other people think you are, and today this is mainly based on what artificial intelligence systems rather than first-hand experience say about you.
Reputation management happens mainly online
Many people and organisations use different forms of social media to monitor their reputation.
Reputation management happens online because this is where most of our communication takes place. Because people choose to communicate on online platforms, reputation management companies use social media and search-engine optimisation (SEO) tactics to attain their goals. (Read more about SEO. Click here)
It is therefore unavoidable that reputation management takes place mostly in the online space; as a matter of fact, the terms reputation management and online reputation management are now virtually synonymous.
The following are a few reasons why online reputation management should be an integral part of your strategy:
- Consumers increasingly rely on online research when they consider purchasing something. Buyers are inclined to investigate products online before making a purchase (online or in the store); people will also hesitate to buy from a firm with negative write-ups.
- If you leave your reputation to chance, it could lead to a crisis. If you watch your reputation and react fast, it will help to avoid crises and disasters and help prevent negative news about your business spreading.
- The online reputation of your brand can affect the grading of your website. It is official: Google uses an algorithmic solution designed to downgrade websites that offer poor client experience.
- If you monitor your online reputation, you will gain valuable insights into your clients: what people like about your brand, what they wish they could change, and what they feel your brand is lacking.
Reputation management is essential for the survival of an undertaking
Why? Because what people think of a brand affects everything in connection with that brand.
Nowadays an undertaking can very quickly go bankrupt because of a single ineptly handled situation.
According to the website Visually four out of five clients will reverse a decision to buy after seeing negative content about a brand or product online.
It is therefore not surprising that undertakings are willing to pay thousands of rands per month in an effort to protect or improve their reputation. If you knew that you could prevent a potentially destructive crisis, wouldn’t you too have whipped out the credit card?
Can reputation really be managed?
It is clear that you cannot control what people think of your brand. But what you can adjust, is what people see, which then influences how they perceive you and the reputation that they form of you.
Reputation can be managed. To some extent.
With the help of techniques from the field of SEO, cognitive psychology, consumer behaviour and human-computer interaction (HCI) professional people in reputation management can restore the equilibrium in search results, review sites, information portals and other sources of public-accessible information.
You cannot control what people think, but to a certain extent you can control what people see online and it could be difficult to maintain a positive reputation and keep a business alive.
Today every brand and every undertaking run the risk of reputation damage. People know how to create and spread false information. All it takes, is a single false review on Google, or junk-mail commentary about your product, and you face a crisis that can destroy your brand.
Reputation management is more necessary today than ever before. With the proliferation of review sites, news and social media, information can spread within a few seconds and stay there for many years.