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Understanding what influences your brand reputation

Now more than ever, brand reputation can either make or break organizations. In short, your reputation across stakeholders like peers, applicants and consumers is critical to your brand’s development. In a world where the marketplace has become a consumer-centric atmosphere, does your brand measure up to the pressure of public opinion through these three main channels?

Peer-Provided Feedback

Now, you may be thinking, in what industry is peer-provided feedback essential, and why should my organization be concerned about garnering this aspect of public opinion? Well, those of you in the higher education community are well aware that peer-provided reviews and awareness are crucial to your rankings, and it is similar in other industries as well.

Look at it this way, decision-makers tend to add more weight to the opinions of those with experience or goals similar to theirs, and obviously, no one wants to be left behind. Everyone wants to know their competition and what they are doing that sets them apart, as well as trends and advances within the industry. In these cases, your competition is actually your friend. The opinions of your peers can help cut through the tangled web of information and allow your message to focus on the goals of the industry as a whole, as well as your place within it.

Industries across the board all have an accessible form of peer feedback through online forums, groups on LinkedIn and associations within your industry. Connecting with industry peers allows for you to garner relationships and gain knowledge of how your brand or organization interacts with others, allowing you to increase the success of your organization’s goals. For industries like higher education, online tactics like those in a recent peer to peer campaign we developed for the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, allowed us to communicate not only what sets this organization apart, but why their peers in the industry should care.

Online Reviews

As mentioned above, your organization should utilize tactics like email and digital advertising to maintain a presence within your industry towards your peers. But those tactics can often lead to growth in the consumer market, growth that results in reviews across platforms like Google, Bing, Yelp, Facebook and a multitude of other review sites.

Monitoring these reviews across platforms and working towards improving your online reputation can be a daunting task, but it is one that should be done. A study by BrightLocal conducted in 2017 found that 91% of people read online reviews and 85% of customers trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation. But what your reviews say is not the only thing people are looking at… they want to know you are responding and hear them. 30% of people cite responses to reviews as a key influencer in judging organizations. In fact, people are becoming less likely to visit a website after reading positive reviews proving the importance of online reputation management and responses vital to measuring and affecting public opinion.

Social Media Circle of Influence Expansion

Not much has changed in the nature of consumer needs. What has changed, however, is the competition in the marketplace for public attention and the way consumers can communicate wants, needs, dislikes, and approvals to organizations and to each other.  

Thanks to the development of technology and the popularity of social media, the public’s circle of influence has changed dramatically over the years. We have been gifted the power and accessibility of knowledge at our fingertips, and with that comes the ability to spread personal experiences and opinions throughout a seemingly limitless web of connections. What once could be contained by the limitations of communication is now an online powerhouse of influence. Online reviews through Google and other review sites are important, but social media reviews and presence is equally, if not more so, vital to monitor.

The toughest lesson for organizations is learning to use social media channels the way consumers want to use them, not the way the organization wants to use them. Each individual has an upward impact of imperceptible reach. So, if you utilize a tool, like SproutSocial or Zoho, that can easily monitor all of your social media channels and engagement, you can actually benefit from the expansion of influence. After all, everyone is searching for viral content, right? But what happens if that viral content holds a negative connotation for your organization or brand? By continuously monitoring your networks you can learn more about your target applicant, peers and consumers, enhance your conversation points with those users, and exercise these relationships to expand your own influence and brand position on social media.

Of course, there are many outlets for public opinion outside of these three categories. However, the ability to manipulate your image is strongest within these categories, as they are increasingly becoming the main channels for brand interaction. For more information on how you can monitor, enhance and leverage public opinion and influence on your organization, or to see more on how we have helped companies and organizations strengthen their brand via peer feedback, online reviews and social media influence, take a look at our work or give us a call. We would love to discuss opportunities for your organization.

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