Reputation is the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something. A brand’s reputation is what its clients and competitors say or think about it. It is important that a business achieves or maintains a good reputation.
There are numerous factors that contribute to the standing of a business, such as your social media presence, customer service, and, product quality.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Your online reputation determines how others perceive your business when they search for or come across it online. Consequently, online reputation management (ORM) proactively influences the information people find on your business.
Online Reputation Management, or ORM, is a multi-faceted concept that is aimed at creating a positive public perception of a brand, business, or person. Reputation management includes monitoring reputation, addressing any content or customer feedback that could damage the brand, and using strategies to prevent and solve problems that could damage an entity’s reputation.
Online reputation management is the practice of monitoring the Internet reputation of a person, brand, or business, with the goal of eliminating negative mentions entirely or pushing them lower on search engine results pages to decrease their visibility.
The primary goal is to suppress any negativity directed towards your company.
For example, different strategies can help you push damaging and harmful content further down the Google search engine results pages (SERPs) by ranking your own or third-party more desirable material above it. Why is this important? Because the top five listings in Google’s search results receive about two-thirds of all clicks.
ORM is not only about managing or optimizing content in search engines, it’s also about managing negative business reviews and encouraging happy/satisfied clients to contribute more positive feedback.
85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
The age of direct advertising where companies sell their products or services to a passive audience is in the past. Now it is all about engaging with your clients, listening to what they have to say, and learning/growing as a result
What does reputation management actually involve?
- Addressing criticism publicly
- Publicly asking for feedback
- Allowing employees to engage with your audience
- Speaking with your audience directly
Here are the four distinct digital marketing channels involved in ORM, channels also referred to as the PESO Model (paid, earned, shared, and owned.).
Paid media includes all marketing efforts that require payment to feature your business on external websites and networks. This includes PPC advertising with Google AdWords, display ads on Facebook, and sponsored posts on industry/influencer blogs. Paid media extends your reach and drives traffic to your web properties by building new relationships with partners and customers.
Earned media describes the coverage of your business on external web entities for which you didn’t pay. It requires you to stand out from your competition with great content, products, or services that users consider worth sharing, mentioning, reposting, and reviewing.
Pages and profiles on social media are “an extension of your brand and create additional avenues for people to interact.”
Your business websites and blogs are properties owned by you, which means you have full control over them.
Where to start with Online Reputation Management
In a time when brand crises hit the mainstream media news after they spread like wildfire on social media, understanding brand reputation management can protect your company.
Online content adds a dimension to your brand – and ultimately your reputation – because the same brand can be perceived differently by online and offline audiences. The best way to manage brand reputation is to tell a cohesive story – to a receptive audience. While controlling the message in an age of social media is no longer an option, you can still steer the dialogue.
1. Become well respected
According to numerous business experts, trust is a perishable asset and it is hard to gain. Making people respect you and your brand is far more important than any other online reputation management commandment. Gain the respect of your audience and in some aspects gain the respect of your competitors.
2. Be transparent
Honesty is the best policy. Telling the truth helps cement the relationship you have with existing clientele. Ethics of business dictate that you maintain transparency.
3. Keep an ear out for what they are saying about you
Social media monitoring can bring business! These days, lots of people ask questions via Twitter and Facebook because they are evaluating whether or not they should buy from you. Word of social media mouth moves faster than you think, a bad tweet or review about your business can go viral damaging the standing of your business.
4. Address criticism
Constructive criticism is important for any brand. Addressing criticism from clients allows you to come out as an industry leader or makes your brand relatable.
5. Your Google page is your business card
First impressions count, and we do judge many books by their cover. If the words “scam” and “rip off” are associated with your brand, then that is something you should worry about.
6. Ask for help if necessary
If your online reputation management efforts are not enough to protect or restore your brand image, you have the choice to request help from a professional.
The Virtuous Cycle
Virtuous Cycle: Take care of your online reputation and you create a virtuous cycle of positive, quality materials that reflect well on you.
The Vicious Cycle
Vicious Cycle: Ignore your online reputation and you risk falling victim to a vicious cycle of misinformation and rumors.
Why you should care about your online reputation
Online reputation is becoming so pervasive, it’s almost time to drop the word “online”
1. Perform an Audit of Your Online Reputation
Before applying Online Reputation Management processes, you have to conduct an extensive online reputation audit.
The idea of an online reputation management audit is to uncover how people see you online and what kind of issues you are facing in challenging that view. To do that, you have to do some brand monitoring.
There is a way to conduct some quick audit of your brand reputation manually:
- Just open up an incognito window and enter your brand name into Google search.
- Take a good look at the sites that appear on the very first page.
- Identify what Google My Business-related features come up on that page and evaluate your presence there: ratings, comments, reviews, user-generated photos, etc.
- Separate the websites into the ones you control and the ones you have limited power over. With your social media accounts, they are highly manageable; with third-part listings, you can reach out to site owners and add/remove misleading bits. With a critical news piece, you can reach out to the author and try to talk to him about his dissatisfaction or convince them that they have got a wrong perception of your company or product.
- Read through the reviews on these sites and try to understand the general sentiment; this is an important step for further prioritization over the platforms that require the most urgent attention.
Certainly, at this stage, this may seem like an exhausting process to conduct the audit manually. Below you will see how SEMrush’s Brand Monitoring — a tool designed to help you manage online reputation — can give you a helpful overview at the end of an audit.
2. Establish an Online Reputation Management Strategy
Now when you know what the online landscape around your brand is, it is time to set up an online reputation management strategy. However, before we get into details about it, you have to get your priorities straight.
Getting started with online reputation management can seem overwhelming. Thus, prioritization is important, as you cannot jump on every single mention. Once your audit is complete, it should be easier for you to prioritize what you should focus on first. Try to balance out a few factors that should impact your decision:
- Set up your online reputation management goals: If it is about response time, it is wise to focus on platforms you have direct access to.
- Define your boundaries and limitations: Review how many resources you can allocate for the ORM project. Bear in mind that this is an ongoing process. Be realistic in your assessment.
- Prioritize your ORM by impact: Be realistic about the scope of the job. The impact is the biggest criterion for your choice as you have to try and allocate your resources into the channels with the highest stakes for your business.
- Prioritize tasks: Which tasks are critical and must be addressed first? There should be a plan for handling critical and challenging tasks. Choosing the easier tasks to get done first isn’t always the best option.
Have a Crisis Management Strategy in Place
You can never anticipate a crisis, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare for one. So, a sound crisis management strategy should always be in place as things escalate online at an unprecedented speed.
The Internet is our first stop for everything
Not only do people view the Internet as their first source of information, but they also trust what it tells them. More importantly, they make decisions based on what they find online.
- Two out of three people see the Internet as the most reliable source of information about a person or a business (Edelman Insights)
- 70% of hiring managers have rejected a candidate because of something they found online
- When looking for a local business, 97% of people read online reviews
- Over 80% of reputation damage comes from a mismatch between the buzz and the reality
Looking at statistics like these, it’s clear that what happens online affects your entire existence.
Online and offline are blending
As we globalize, the online world becomes more and more enmeshed with the rest of our daily activities. From smartphones to smart TVs, from the “Internet of things” to the self-driving cars of the future—you are living each day increasingly online, even if you never touch a computer.
That means there are more and more ways for you to leave an online mark, positive or negative.
Now, you might not think that people are searching for you, but chances are they are. Common reasons include:
- Employers doing pre-interview research
- Insurance companies doing risk assessments
- Customers looking for recommendations
No matter how “under the radar” or “low-tech” your lifestyle, there is a good quantity of information about you online—and people are seeing it.
Your online reputation sticks with you
If someone writes something negative about you online, it can put you at a serious disadvantage over the long term—especially if you’re not aware of it. You might never know why you didn’t get that apartment you wanted, or why a job offer never materialized after that phenomenal interview.
Search algorithms prioritize popularity
No algorithm can tell whether information precisely reflects you or not, so popularity becomes the main measuring stick of what makes a good search result.
That’s why embarrassing photos, frivolous lawsuits dismissed years ago, and other kinds of irrelevant but intriguing “clickbait” often dominate online reputations.
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