A survey of 224 digital marketers in the US revealed that online reputation management (ORM) is a growing necessity for businesses to experience success in a digital era of social media and online reviews.

The survey, conducted by Clutch, a B2B research firm in Washington, DC, found that more than half (54 percent) of digital marketers consider online reputation management a “very necessary” component to having a healthy brand image in the eyes of consumers.

With the rise of social media and third-party reviews websites, individuals are free to post about their experiences and opinions on global platforms. For this reason, businesses must constantly monitor what’s being said about their brand online or they might lose out on potential customers.

Digital marketers recognize the importance of keeping a steady pulse of their company’s online reputation. According to Clutch, 42 percent of businesses monitor their online reputation on a daily basis. 21 percent of businesses monitor their reputation every hour.

Because a single negative media mention can dissuade users from purchasing a product or service from a company, businesses must frequently monitor their media mentions to avoid the loss of new business leads.

Clutch’s survey reveals that digital marketers are choosing to devote resources to online reputation management because they understand digital platforms like social media have shifted the ORM landscape. In fact, social media is considered the most important online platform to monitor, according to 46 percent of businesses.

Social media allows for individuals to instantly share a negative experience, but it also enables companies to react, respond, and take part in an online conversation that’s not necessarily available on a blog or reviews site.

Shannon Wilkinson, CEO at Reputation Communications, a reputation management agency in New York, spoke to Clutch about the positive attributes of social media for businesses.

“Social media enables companies to participate in conversations about their products, services, and industries. It also enables them to monitor those conversations to ensure they can be a part of them,” she said.

The viral nature of social media can be damaging to brand reputation, but it also provides businesses the opportunity to converse firsthand with their customers.

To mitigate the risk of significantly damaging a brand’s online reputation, Clutch recommends allocating resources to ORM in the form of hiring a professional public relations agency. Agencies offer a level of expertise and knowledge about ORM that isn’t provided by social listening software or free online tools. Experts in PR, online reputation management companies can help businesses identify their key audience and frame their messaging to spread a positive image of their company.

Businesses are following this advice. More than 40 percent of digital marketers plan to hire a PR agency to manage their online reputation in 2018, Clutch found.

Being preemptive about solidifying a brand’s online reputation will ultimately save time, money, and heartache in the event of a PR crisis or negative online experience. Increasing investment in ORM in 2018 will only help businesses maintain a healthy online identity in the long term.

To read the full report, please visit here.

Jenna Seter is a Business Analyst & Content Marketer at Clutch Co. in Washington D.C. Follow her on Twitter @jennaseter.

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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