Digital Footprint, ORM Bridge Between Marketing And Communication
The digital footprint of a company, the trace left by its brand on the internet, does not depend only on its marketing and communication departments.
And less so in the case of a corporate reputation crisis that has come about through no fault of its own. Whether from a company, an institution or a group of influence. Every organization that has a name has a written history on the internet. Or, put another way, a conversation that is, at least in part, out of your control. And the case is that they are detected too late. When, for example, these contents appear in the results of the first pages of search engine results.
A company’s digital footprint goes beyond the first results that Google shows. It covers content published in the media in addition to corporate channels. It is also mainly going through aggregators, blogs, social networks and forums.
Online channels that interfere with the digital footprint-1
In this order we have just mentioned, the gradual loss of control in the different online channels is staggered. As these move away from the company’s media, management by those responsible for marketing and communication decreases. And, therefore, of the contents that trace the digital footprint of a company.
Own media of the company
These are the channels available to the organization to defend itself from a crisis of bad image in the online universe. In addition, they are the tools available to weave an online reputation management strategy. Or ORM, for its acronym in English. These tools can help improve the company’s image in the digital universe. Examples are the corporate website, marketplace (if applicable) and blogs. And even their social networks and job portals. The sum of all this forms the company’s corporate fleet in the online sphere.
Online newspapers and aggregators
Electronic newspapers, televisions and radios are the first steps in the digital footprint chain. The communication and marketing departments give up an essential portion of control over the company’s content. It is also where the first steps in establishing an ORM strategy begin. Having a fluid relationship with the media is essential for all company areas. Consequently, setting a digital footprint map is indispensable for safeguarding corporate reputation. We must not forget that online media have a high power of virtualization towards other digital channels. Like its replicants: news aggregators such as Yahoo, MSN or Menéame.
Online channels that interfere with the digital footprint-2
When it comes to classifying the categories of the digital footprint, there are two types. Business reputation management experts distinguish between corporate blogs and independent blogs. The latter is what we usually call the “blogosphere” in the jargon of “internet”. These, the independent bloggers, tend to escape the control measures desired by corporations. Although, the marketing departments do manage to establish relationships with bloggers for commercial purposes. For those responsible for communication, on the occasion of a crisis, this group can be a problem that is difficult to solve.
They are the leading exponents of Internet 2.0. Collect user feedback. Opinions, personal experiences, criticism and complaints make up the last two steps of a corporation’s digital footprint. In the case of social networks, it is common for users to post their comments on the company’s profiles. It is a lesser evil than a corporate reputation strategy must face since the company can act directly with the affected users and reduce the negative feeling of the users: at least it can show its face. A different situation is when the complaints take on the dimensions of a digital tsunami. For example, a company’s problem becomes a “trending topic” on Twitter.
This group is where a company’s ability to influence is practically nil. The company shouldn’t have a profile to defend itself against user complaints and accusations, even if the disgruntled comments are inaccurate and defamatory. The problem for the company’s most exciting marketing and communication departments is that forums, unlike social networks, have a high positioning power in search engine results.
Where should the ORM strategy focus?
It is in these last two channels that make up the digital footprint of a corporation where they are constituted and advertised:
The affected customer platforms: This is the case of the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages on Twitter, the venue for those affected by Identical and Dentix forged in Facebook groups.
Legal clinics: Law firms, such as Arriaga Asociados, or legal platforms, such as Recupera or Legalitas, have found a meeting point with users on Facebook to encourage them to file legal claims. This is currently the case with revolving cards declared usurious by the Supreme Court in March 2020.
The campaigns of consumer organizations: Fascia, OCU, and Adicae are active in social networks in discussion groups. Last February, Volkswagen was sentenced in Spain, in the first instance, to pay 3,000 euros to each of those affected by the “Dieselgate” after the ruling of the lawsuit filed by OCU in 2017, when the scandal broke out. It has been five years of a strong flow of publications in all online channels that have left a deep mark on VW’s digital footprint and undermined part of the corporate reputation of the global car manufacturer in all the countries in which it operates.
According to newspaper archive data, only about 70,000 users would have taken legal action against the 700,000 affected by manipulating the engines in Spain.
Reputation crisis, such as the ones we have just mentioned, depending on perseverance over time and the scope of those affected, can generate around 16,000 to 40,000 mentions per month, limiting the universe to Spain. In a company’s ORM strategy, to keep track of these posts, catalogue them and record their progress in Google results, it is necessary to have a technology capable of recording comments and posts. Some tools allow you to combine powerful search engines and associated databases to:
- Clean up the unproductive noise, which is inevitable in a keyword search and can double the number of mentions that interest tracking a brand. This is the case of keywords such as “Converse”, which, in addition to being a footwear brand, is a widely used predicate in English.
- Label the results to prepare an accurate, reliable and practical analysis of the corporate digital footprint for communication and marketing.
Examples worth mentioning are Social Studio, which is integrated into the SalesForce CRM, and Augure specializes in communication media.
The keys to improving the reputation of a brand
However, to obtain an optimal result, the use of manual search cannot be ruled out on many occasions. In addition, it is advisable to use several applications and standardize the search results in later treatment for greater efficiency, mainly time savings.
Once the scope of the trace left by a company, a product or a company’s activity, such as an event, has been defined, it is time to label the mentions collected in the period we want to analyze.
Sentiment: One of the most exciting indices in developing an ORM strategy is the sentiment of the comments: Positive, Neutral and Negative. With this indicator, we can see the weight of negative comments in the digital footprint of the conversation.
Distribution by online channels: The next step is to locate where comments hostile to the company’s corporate reputation are being produced with greater virulence to prioritize ORM actions in the media that most need it.
Evolution of mentions: It is the synthesis of the two previous points and where it can be seen if the comment curve will continue to increase or begin to bend after the first results of our corporate reputation strategy.