Online reputation management, a.k.a. that marketing tool that most brands ignore until a crisis happens, has undergone some radical changes as we’ve entered the smartphone age. Consumers are constantly connected and brands receive more reviews than ever before. An interesting article on Forbes opines that that brands need to stop looking at online reputation management and think of it more as a part of their daily marketing routine.
Branding leaders like Apple and Harley Davidson realized that years ago and it’s part of why they’re so successful. Other than a change in the ORM mindset, we were curious as to what other innovations are coming to the field. So, we asked a group of industry experts…
Here’s what they had to say…
“In the future, technology will help businesses minimize the impact of the vocal, angry minority on online reputation. Consumer sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google Reviews have fundamentally changed how businesses think about their online reputations and placed incredible power in the hands of consumers. In theory, this is great — the voice of the customer now has an unfiltered venue. In practice, however, it often creates an unfair situation for business owners because upset customers, even if they are clearly the minority, are more likely to post feedback online and distort the public’s view of the company.
Increasingly, companies are using technology to recalibrate this dynamic and take more ownership of their online business reputations. As one example, my company helps small businesses use technology to proactively encourage happy customers to share their experiences with the business on review websites. If satisfied customers are less likely to post positive feedback online, then businesses need a mechanism to encourage them to do so, which can be accomplished with a simple, polite email nudge.”
“Currently, reputation management only becomes a priority for most individuals and brands after an issue surfaces. While effective, it takes time to fix the search landscape and is extremely cost inefficient to play from behind.
On a go-forward basis, mobile technology, publishing power and social sharing will continue to improve and occur across a greater number of mediums. Maintaining privacy will get infinitely harder and online issues will be much more complex. It will be critical for anyone invested in their own personal and professional success to prioritize online reputation management and proactively build and fortify their online presence before there is a problem – the sooner the better.
In as few as 5 years, it’s easy to imagine every child getting schooled on digital responsibility alongside geometry and every parent starting to sculpt their kids online resume from the day they introduce them to their first tech toy.”
“Online reputation management in the next 5-7 years will not only be a job companies will be forced to hire specifically for, but it will be a well paid job for those that get hired to do it. It will be even more critical for local businesses. Most consumers now base their entire buying decision on YELP reviews, Google, Trip Advisor, etc. All of these platforms must be treated as individual assets to the business therefore they must be cared for as if they were actual assets. Most businesses now do not have a strategy or a plan when it comes to not only generating positive reviews, but what to do when negative reviews come. These negative reviews are costing companies thousands of dollars but are being ignored because the owners and top management aren’t able to relate revenue lost because of the negative reviews because there is no software available to track it. But the day will come where this will be taken seriously.”
“Ten years from now online reputation management and repair tactics will be part of our children’s school curriculum. Everyone creating and growing their personal brand is not a passing trend only reserved for athletes or celebrities. Our lives via social media will only continue to expand. Thus, we will all need to be more educated about how to maintain and protect our reputations online to maintain our lives in the real world.”
“The term ‘Reputation Management’ is losing its sheen or we can say that it’s losing reputation. Reputation Management invokes fear and is often associated with crisis management. However, the future of online reputation management is to realize that it is not a trigger to problems but a way to create value for your online customers. The online reputation of any brand, if managed effectively, can become a critical differentiator and a strategic asset.
In the future, brands should gear up to manage their reputation seriously with online reviews on Google, Yelp, Amazon, and TripAdvisor. These reviews are believed to have a huge impact on consumer demand, and how they perceive your product/ service.
Reputation Marketing is the way forward and it will be extremely important to monitor reviews, which can be done manually or with the help of tools. It will be important to gain real-time insights into what your customers are saying about you and also provide an understanding of competitors and their online reputation. It will be critical to hear what your customers are saying about your product/ service through social media mentions, comments on public forums and recommendations. In order to grow the number of online positive reviews, you will have to create outreach programs and request them to write online reviews on various platforms.”
“First, Yelp’s business model is going to change drastically, or the company is going to go under. Yelp’s stock has already plummeted thanks to their notoriously aggressive sales tactics and the increasingly combative behavior of CEO Jeremy Stoppelman. Either they overhaul their business model entirely, diversify to the point where their reviews are no longer their biggest asset, or will crumble under their own operational weight.
Next, the rise of voice search is going to change both branded searches and commercial searches. If you search for a local plumber using Alexa, Google Home, or other technologies on the horizon, only one result will be delivered. That means either reputation will have been factored into which result it returns, or reputation will be ignored entirely. More importantly, if reputation is factored there is a good chance that the channel owner’s own reputation management platform or partnerships will be prioritized, which means management will only be necessary across very few channels.
Lastly, the push to combat fake reviews, especially on Google, has been slow. You should expect that to pick up considerably over the next few years, which means that the playing field might finally be leveled for companies that don’t engage in fraudulent review practices.”
“In my opinion, after watching the industry grow, change, and adapt over the past 5 years, I think ORM is going to become something that business owners won’t be able to avoid. Brightlocal did a study and found that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.” Think about that. That means that the overwhelming majority of people trust a review from some faceless person on the internet as much as their best friend or mother. We’ve seen how Yelp can be the difference between some restaurants failing or succeeding. Businesses with bad Google reviews or negative news stories that show up on searches for their name are going to start to feel the pressure. The difference between a 2 star and a 3 star rating could be have a major impact on your bottom line, depending on the industry and location.”