ORM Fundamentals

The Complete Guide to Managing Your Online Reputation for Small Businesses

Online reputation management (ORM) is one of the fundamental elements of running a business in today’s corporate climate. Customers rarely forget poor business decisions and mishandled PR campaigns, so it’s important to circumvent that in the first place.

Based on Small Biz Genius, over 70% of brand managers agree that building an audience is more important than converting sales. Customer loyalty is a hard-fought thing and you shouldn’t take it for granted.  What is ORM all about, and how can you manage your small business’ reputation more successfully with 2022 on the way?

Benefits of Managing your Online Reputation as a Small Business

To start, let’s discuss the real value of ORM before jumping into practical tips and guidelines to help your business. Data by Tech Jury has indicated that 33% of branding specialists emphasize user experience (UX) over raw content production. 77% of customers thus make their purchase decisions based on branding alone, placing a high emphasis on how they can interact with said brand.

It’s no longer enough to provide solid products or services – standing up for social causes and giving back to your customers is equally important. Your small business stands to gain a lot by focusing on meaningful ORM, especially as social media platforms become more and more prevalent in marketing. Here’s why you should pay more attention to online business reputation management moving forward:

  • Increased customer loyalty
  • Improved word of mouth
  • Higher SERP ranking
  • Easier talent acquisition
  • Increased profit margins
  • Better public trust
  • More affordable, less aggressive marketing requirements

Online Reputation Management Guidelines for Small Businesses

Embrace the PESO Content Marketing Model

To build long-term trust with your customers and have an easier time managing your online reputation, you should diversify your content marketing. While you may already publish content on various channels like social media, industry publications, and email marketing, your content mix is important.

PESO is a modern take on online reputation management, in which you can combine various types of marketing content more easily. What does PESO stand for?

  • Paid media – paid ads such as SERP PPC, and SEM
  • Earned media – social proof created as a result of community events and social contributions
  • Shared media – user-generated content in the form of reviews, testimonials, and multimedia
  • Owned media – content created in-house, such as blog posts, sales campaign content, etc.

Mixing different content to better manage your online reputation is very valuable, especially when working with younger customer bases. Your focus may be with students who spend time writing assignments and occasionally visit social media in-between paper writing. In this case, students can get their academic papers done online if their train of thought becomes “Can you write a thesis for me?” PESO can make your content marketing effortless and organic, considerably contributing to your business’s online reputation.

Don’t Shy Away from Standing Up for Social Causes and Global Issues

As we’ve mentioned previously, customers who identify with your brand are far more likely to make repeat purchases and recommend it to their social circles. It’s why your business should set a mission statement and long-term goals up as business standards move forward.

What does your business stand for and why are you in business?

To many, this will be a huge step in the right direction and a plethora of customer profiles will flock to your brand. Managing your online reputation is much easier when you have solid social causes and issues to stand up for. Very few brands or customers will have negative words for your small business if you stand up for causes your staff believes in wholeheartedly.

Collect Customer Reviews and Testimonials for Marketing Purposes

Social proof is one of the most powerful tools in your ORM arsenal. Whether you run an online storefront or offer retail services, customers will likely want to comment on your brand’s quality.

They will often do this by checking out your Google My Business page online, and by leaving reviews on aggregate industry sites like eEndorsements.com. While customer reviews are a passive way for your business to reach new audiences, you can collect them manually and create marketing content around them. Better yet, you can contact satisfied customers and offer them a chance to collaborate with you on creating marketing content.

User-generated content is very valuable, as many customers are reluctant to buy from brands without any good reviews online. Circumvent that by actively looking for reviews, comments, and testimonials to market your brand with. Your ORM will become substantially more effective thanks to UGC, make sure not to overlook its strengths.

Embrace Failures and Commit to Doing Better

All businesses fumble and make mistakes from time to time – it’s only natural. However, the way you handle bad press will speak volumes of your brand as a whole. Whether you launched a faulty product or if one of your customers is suing you for damages, don’t play the victim card.

You are in it for the long run and you want to make sure that your business is still standing tomorrow. The best way to approach ORM when a crisis happens is to embrace it. Never blame your customers for a failure in your calculation – they will remember it for a long time. Instead, use your failures as growth opportunities and embrace them.

Approach your PR with the mindset of a small business that is learning, adapting, and developing constantly. This will gain you a lot of favor with customers, the press, and other businesses in the industry. Use ORM as a helpful extension of your business, not as a necessary damage control tool, and your customers will recognize your efforts.

To Summarize

Without ORM, you risk losing touch with your audience and falling prey to other competitive brands in your industry. Whether your reputation is good or you’re facing PR issues, maintaining ORM constantly is a smart move.

It will allow you to push products to the market more easily and get far more out of your customer base than you would otherwise. Diversify your content, collect UGC, and stand up for what you believe in – the right customers will come to your brand organically over time.

Image source: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/hand-arrange-white-letters-brand_1179324.htm

Author’s bio. Jessica Fender is a professional writer and educational blogger at Technicallywriting. Jessica enjoys sharing her ideas to make writing and learning fun.