PROTECTING YOUR (ONLINE) REP: Businesses must keep and eye on and maintain their appearance in the eye of the public, including the social media world.

Author:Heppner, Brian

As a franchisor, you want to have complete control over your brand, but your brand reputation could get in the way. Brand reputation is an intangible component of a business, driven primarily by what customers share about their experiences with your business and how consumers perceive you as a result. Today, this sharing is happening primarily online, on social media and on third-party review sites, and it shapes a business' online reputation.

Mar keting leaders are catching on to the fact that online reputation can be a major asset or a tremendous detriment to business success. A 2018 survey of marketers revealed that more than 50 percent of them considered online reputation management essential to the success of their business and an even greater percentage planned to increase their investment in online reputation management. Still, many businesses hesitate to integrate online reputation management into their overall marketing strategy because of the challenges with calculating online reputation management ROI.

What is Online Reputation Management?

Today's consumer relies heavily on search engines, review sites and social media to research businesses and make purchasing decisions. Their expectation is that your business will be just as visible and responsive online as you would be in-store. Online reputation management protects your brand online by establishing your online presence and engaging with your customers on the platforms they frequent. An effective online reputation management program would involve:

* Claiming and branding review pages and social media profiles

* Responding to all reviews

* Flagging inflammatory and false reviews for removal

* Engaging with customers on social and online platforms

* Cross-promoting reviews

Why Invest in ORM?

Businesses with a positive brand reputation have been proven to outperform those with poor reputations in terms of growth, earnings, market value and stock price. Furthermore, businesses that have made investments in online reputation management--from devoting in-house resources to monitor social media to hiring external agencies for full-service reputation management--have seen results, the most significant being sales growth. Because of this impact on the business' bottom line, online reputation management has become a necessity. It is even more important for franchises whose network-wide brand reputation can be impacted by the reputation of just one of the hundreds of locations in the...

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