In the digital age, one post from a disgruntled customer can wreak havoc to a brand’s reputation within seconds!!!

Never before have consumers had such an influence on the reputation of corporates as in this age.

The need for reputation management in the digital age

Audiences are no longer passive – user-generated content is now a critical part of how a company is perceived. The speed and reach of digital sharing is endangering corporate reputation. Local mistakes can become global reputation crises within minutes. The audience has indeed been empowered. Reputation is now sculpted by the masses and is no longer easily manageable.

Today, the internet plays a key role in how businesses are perceived due to the consumer’s heavy reliance on online reviews and ratings to make purchase decisions.

Over 80% of potential customers conduct an online research before making a purchase.

Positive online reviews and ratings can improve a brand’s online reputation, increase customer trust as well as boost sales, on the other hand negative reviews & ratings can damage an organisation’s online reputation, hurt customer trust and also drive away potential customers. 

The challenges of effectively managing a brand’s reputation have certainly grown in the digital age. New social media sites are sprouting up at a much faster rate availing new platforms and opportunities to businesses for greater reach, enabling them to access new customers, launch creative campaigns and tell their stories. The downside of this greater reach however, is that it comes with even greater risk.  

Brands both big and small have experienced a public relations nightmare in this digital era, a number of brands come to mind, take for instance, the H&M sweater saga that turned into a racism disaster, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle, the United Airlines’ –United breaks guitars PR crisis just to mention a few.

The modern consumer has the power to turn one local mistake into a viral meme and global reputation crisis literally within seconds!

No brand is immune to reputational crisis online!

If your brand hasn’t encountered a reputation crisis yet, consider yourself very lucky but always be prepared for such crises.

In spite of all this, brands and marketers don’t necessarily have to feel helpless because of this shift in the power of consumer opinion.New digital touch points and media are available to help brands build their reputation online. Through social media platforms for example, businesses can offer much more transparency, share positive stories and experiences, have engaging conversationswith customers, call on advocates in a time of need, outsource marketing and advertising to their fan-baseand get instant feedbackon products and services.

What is brand reputation management?

A ‘brand’ is a promise while ‘brand reputation’ is about the fulfilment of that promise.

Although an organisation owns its brand, it’s the stakeholders who own its reputation.’

Brand reputation management therefore is the practice of monitoring perceptions and conversations, responding to reputation threats and proactively seizing opportunities to boost reputation.

Reputation management is about eliminating the discrepancy betweenhow a company perceives itself and how the public perceives it.

We cannot control brand reputation, but we certainly can manage it!

Your reputation must resonate with your brand!!!

Corporate reputation management in the digital age is about giving businesses more control over how they are perceived online, usingtechnology to improve the processes of listening to stakeholders, learning from their views and taking necessary action thereafter. Fortunately for today’s marketer, various tools and software are available that can help brands monitor their reputation online.

The value of corporate brand reputation

Reputation offers numerous benefits to brands; It gives an organisation that competitive edge that sets it apart from other competing firms. Reputation builds credibility and brand trust in your products or services. It improves customer acquisition and retention, improves sales and profitability, improves market share as well as brand equity.

Corporate brand reputation attracts top talent from people wanting to work for your company, it builds brand confidence among a corporate’s employees, customers, investors, influencers, partners and within its industry. Most importantly, reputation can help an organisation to recover from a crisis.

In order to proactively build a positive corporate reputation, there is need to:

  1. first assess your performance across all departments and channels
  2. ensure that your performance and the face you present to the world match stakeholder expectations.
  3. Manage both internal and external factors to keep public perception positive. 

Conclusion

Reputation is built over a lifetime, but can be lost instantly. Whether managed or not, every brand has a reputation. The digital era has presented new challenges in the area of reputation management. It’s absolutely imperative to monitor what is being said about your company online. Corporates therefore must take proactive steps in building and protecting their reputation for business success. Overall, a positive brand reputation reduces the cost of marketing, hence many organisations are increasingly investing in corporate reputation management.