Online Reputation Management and Tools – The Next Big Thing?

August 25, 2011 by  Filed under: Branding 

Online Reputation Management have become extremely powerful words as far as brand management and brand promotion are concerned. Today a brand, irrespective of the industry or sector it belongs to, has to set apart a part of their spending’s for online brand promotion and more importantly for steering the brand perception for favorable outcomes. Online reputation management has come a long way from being a choice to becoming a necessity. Today people are spending a massive amount of time on different blogs or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. People form perception of brands and influence others online. People can share information at the drop of a hat and that too across geographical locations.

There is more to it than that meets the eye! Earlier, it was easy for companies, especially the ones in high technology based industries such as those in the business of manufacturing mobiles, television and computers; to first introduce their products in developed nations and then later as the technology became outdated, dump them in developing nations. Digital medium has completely changed the entire ball game of selling and buying goods. Now, an outdated technology that arrives in a developing nation and is sold at a high price has to face repercussions that can be far more damaging to them then they may imagine. Not only the product in question shall be condemned, but the brand itself would become an outcast.

Since, the process of new technology being launched simultaneously across the world is happening very gradually, so to speak, digital means of maintaining decorum in the internet space is being sought. Hence, enters the savior “Online Reputation Management”. This can be done in two ways. One is by monitoring what is happening across the internet and then responding to the grievances of people. The second is to create as many properties across the internet space as possible and ranking them on the first page for certain phrases that the potential customers like you and me are going to put in Google or any other such reputed search engine.

The main issue is not really the manpower, because this problem can be tackled easily by the developed nations based companies outsourcing the work to developing countries. The bone of contention is that how does one accurately detect across the internet space the relevant queries and where people are actually talking about the brand! Enormous amounts of data to view and process, and there might be products being talked about that can cause problems for many brand simultaneously. For example: If a certain financial instrument is being condemned in a forum where there are hundreds of members and thousand who keep landing on the page through search engines day in and day out, all companies belonging to the industry are going to have a tough time! And these forums might actually be talking specifically about the financial instrument in question with experts from all over the world talking about it and giving their expert comments. Now if under these circumstances one of the brand puts aside a part of its spending for mitigating this problem, they in turn also help their rivals. Such is the paradox! But in case the brand in question is a market leader by a large margin and mainly so because of the financial instrument in question, then it turns out to be far more advantageous proposition for the brand than the offset caused by online reputation management.

Thus, emerges the need for Online Reputation Management based tools. There are many online reputation management and monitoring tools in the market, but none good enough. More often than not, they pick up sentences that have no real significance to the brand in question. These tools take keywords, and search the internet for those keywords. Keywords in layman’s terms is a “word” or a “phrase” that best represents the brand and is being searched a lot. Generally, a keyword, as far as ORM tools go, is the brand name itself. Now, these tools give you access to graphs and excel sheets that give information such as; sentiments across the internet space, pie charts depicting the geographic distribution across the world, excel sheets that give links having the keywords in question and many other sophisticated analytics. But the important thing to note is, these tools can never gauge the emotions and the psychology of the people who are writing it. Thus, more often than not, wrong analysis is done. These tools are nothing but just scripts and lakhs of codes written to crawl websites but not feel the sentiments behind the mentions. In making these tools efficient, natural language processing will have a pivotal role to play. The day is not really far away when these tools will be so efficient that it would become the primal factor in influencing consumer buying behavior.

Passing on the thoughts,
Ajay Bhat
Reputation Management

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