A lot of people don’t see the necessity of listening online. The truth is this is perhaps more important than actually being active online. The cold hard fact is that people are having conversations (good and bad) about your brand whether you like it or not and for anyone with an interest in selling (which let’s face it we all are) its crucial to pay attention to what our customers, potential customers, competitors and influencers are saying about our brands.
ORM — Online Reputation Management — is a really good way to go about listening. There are a number of tools out there that you can use, but the real value comes out of understanding what ORM actually means for your business.
1. It’s all about listening
I cannot stress enough how important it is to be in the loop in terms of what is being said about your business online. Far too often companies which carelessly disregard the importance of what people are saying are left with huge crisis management ordeals which could have been avoided.
According to statistics from research company Pew, four out of five people state that they have received advice via social media regarding what product or service to purchase. A 2012 graphic from Insight Marketing Group meanwhile shows that 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, only 14% trust advertisement. So what does this mean for your business? They are talking about you beyond your control and you need to be monitoring the conversation.
2. Talk the talk
Besides being able to listen and pick up what your customers are saying about your business, ORM also allows you to understand what people are talking about in context to your business, products or services.
You might pick up that, as a retailer, people are talking about price comparison and using your stores as ‘showrooms’, eventually making their final purchase online. Picking up on this kind of insight could help change your entire business strategy and make you realize that your standalone brick and mortar store is no longer going to cut it and in order to be competitive you need to look at ecommerce options.
As a research company or educational institution you may pick up on trends and issues that suggest people are searching for information on that you are not covering. This may help you expand your offering and start a niche sector catering to specific sought after needs.
3. Identify the influencers
One of the biggest benefits of ORM is that it helps you understand what people are searching for, what they are saying about it, and how this is relevant to your brand. You can also start identifying those key online influencers who seem to steer the crowd either towards or away from your business.
Certain people have greater clout (and Klout) than others and surely you want to get these people on your team? Use ORM to pick up on what these people are saying and start engaging with them. Your attendance to them and what they have to say will only inflate their egos and help put your brand on a pedestal within their social communities.
4. Business strategies revealed
ORM also allows you to pick up on where your brand is being spoken about which may open up opportunity for you to start engaging on new platforms.
An old-school, male-orientated insurance company might, for instance, uncover that some of its biggest competition online is coming from female-orientated site targeted at a much younger audience. It might therefore be time to change its strategy.
You might discover that more and more image driven and video content is being shared about your brand on platforms you are not active on. This may be an opportunity to work branded visual content into your strategy and start engaging within these new visually oriented communities.
5. ORM is big data
As we know, big data uncovers consumer and industry insights on a mass scale. Essentially that’s exactly what ORM is doing, but instead of asking the questions you’re using the tools to listen to the answers.
There is so much data available it can seem overwhelming, and often the pure magnitude of this data leads to us missing critical points of interest and insight.
ORM is a way you can learn to coexist with big data and use it as a pinnacle tool in understanding the importance of social media for business and monitoring online conversations about the brands, people or topics that are important to you.