India is taking a huge leap towards digitisation, and with the Indian Government’s recent move on demonetisation; customers are bound to embrace the digital world soon. Therefore, brands and marketers are getting ready to not only focus on deepening the engagement with its customers to create awareness and recall, but also investing in building their reputation in the digital space.
Building reputation through conventional channels of media was easier as the news had a short life due to fresh or breaking news taking up space. But with online search engines index, the data or reviews are undyingly available with a click of the mouse and no matter how much positive news or views you are pushing, the negative is somewhere hidden and can influence a decision. You can understand this better when shopping online or even while taking a cab – that extra star given for a product or service matters!
The marketers understand these crucial elements which build a brand’s equity and online reputation management is one such tool which is used by them often to monitor and manage conversations around the brand.
One of the essentials of ORM is social listening. To understand the pulse of the customers social listening always gets attention from marketers. It not only helps in understanding the customer - what he knows, thinks and feels about the brand - but is a significant feedback tool as well. Marketers gain lots of consumer insights on their own products/services, industry and competition, thereby increasing the effectiveness of their offerings.
However, 2016 has been the year of content marketing. Marketers having their ears on the ground understood that relevant, interesting, entertaining and timely content increases its shareability and digital conversations, which further contributes to the brand equity. Content in a way of photographs, videos, posts, blogs, vines, etc., is constantly consumed in various forms and help the brand increases its visibility. But the question remains does it add to the reputation as most of the content dies or does not even move beyond limited views? Brands are pushing enormous content online and social media being regarded as a democratised way of communication, people have become selective on what to share and how much to share. Marketers have realised this trend and now are empowering customers or individuals to be a social influencer. With the rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Dubsmash and Pinterest, brands are constantly leaning on these ‘social influencers’ to market their products and services. The advantage of these influencers is that they already have an overwhelming connect with their followers and are effortlessly able to deliver the brand messages.
What’s new in 2017?
The New Year will take a step further from where we are in ORM. Content remains the backbone of marketing strategies. The content which is getting shared and is moving faster, now imagine if that is put to use in creating a reputation data and integrate it into the business and financial data. Big Data revolution is not far from reality. Different industries like telecom and FMCG are using these data to understand their customers better. When this data is analysed, it will definitely help the companies take important decisions to develop traditional and online brand strategies basis accurate customer insights.
The other trend which we will see quick acceptance in social media space in the New Year will be the investment by marketers in adoption of newer technologies. We saw a glimpse of Live Streaming and Augmented Reality (AR) in 2016. However, it is expected to change the way brands will communicate with its stakeholders in the future. AR will transform the way products are designed, produced, and supported, enabling businesses to craft delightful customer experiences.
With brands becoming more open to experimentation and keen on reducing dependence on resources, chat bots are going to be the next big thing in 2017. Both, on tweets and Facebook posts, and direct messages, bots will respond to customers based on artificial intelligence technology.
Thus, the customer still remains the ‘King’ and in the sea of brands, he flows with one such brand that easily influences him. In today’s cut-throat environment it is not about what you give but how connected you are with your customer. There is a declining brand loyalty which can be very much attributed to the rise of the social media. Thus, it is important for brands to make deep and instant emotional connect with their customers and manage their reputation to emerge as winners. Each year will bring its own set of challenges and opportunities, marketers need to recognise those to get the attention of their target audience who is getting smarter by each year.
(The author is General Manager – Marketing, Aircel)
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com