As a marketer, you know the importance of maintaining positive online reputation management. But with so much information out there, it can be difficult to know where to start.
Keep in mind that managing your online reputation is an ongoing process – it’s simply never concluded. So be prepared to commit time and energy to it on a regular basis.
But the payoff will be worth it!
Today, nearly half of all Google searches are for a local business or service.
What this means is that your company’s online reputation matters more than ever. In fact, it’s been proven that 95% of consumers trust recommendations from other people over brands’ ads or strong social media presence.
So if you’ve been avoiding managing your brand’s online reputation because you think that only big companies need a strategy or can afford it – then you’re wrong.
You’ll be surprised to find out how economically friendly an effective ORM strategy actually is.
Here are the top 7 ways to manage your online reputation effectively.
Step 1 – Analyze Your Online Reputation
Before you do anything else, you need to see what people are saying about you or your company.
To get started, go to the Google Alerts website and set up a customized alert for your name or brand.
Then configure your account for the following customizations:
- Frequency of updates(daily or weekly)
- which countries or regions you want alerts about
- whether or not the results should include all languages or just certain ones.
Once this is done, sit back and wait for your results.
Using Google Alerts will help give you an idea of what people say or know about your business online. You’ll also be able to monitor media coverage related to the company industry or category – just in case there’s a news story or blog post that mentions or discusses something about your company or brand.
Here are some other ways to do online research:
- Use a search engine or social media site and enter you or your company name as a query. Replace the “www” or any other symbols with dashes or underscores (i.e., “Razor_-_Company”). Try doing this in Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter).
- Scan the results and consider each result carefully. If you find something negative about your business or an employee – take it seriously!
- Prepare yourself for what you might see – which could be anything including photos of employees having fun at an event, negative reviews from disgruntled or even satisfied customers or even some old or outdated news stories or press releases.
- Look for patterns or commonalities as you sort through the results (i.e., if most of the negative results or comments mention a particular person or customer complaint).
Step 2 – Create A Digital Marketing Plan
After you’ve analyzed your online presence, prepare a digital marketing plan to take control of your business’ online reputation.
As mentioned earlier, managing your company’s digital marketing is usually an ongoing process with many moving parts so it will require constant attention and vigilance from the entire team at the company or agency.
Start by making a priority list or task management system so you know what needs to be handled first, second and so on.
It can also help to understand digital marketing trends or create a digital marketing strategy document that outlines steps or changes needed for the ORM plan and assigns certain responsibilities or tasks.
Once this is done, it’s time to follow-up on some of the necessary steps below:
- Update your company website.
- Create a social media policy or guidelines for employees or others involved in managing the brand’s image online. Include specific rules about how updates should look or behave including tone or language used, links or hashtags to avoid, frequency of posts and more.
You have to realize that online reputation management is not just about being present or having a good number of followers or likes on social media or accounts on different job websites or even domain authority.
It’s all about making sure your presence matches the truth.
This means reading your reviews on Yelp or Amazon or Google My Business and responding to as many as you can – good or bad. This shows your active, professional and truly care about your customer’s experience.
Step 3 – Determine Your Reputation Goals
Your ORM strategy should have definitive and manageable goals.
What are ORM goals?
They are not just about getting rid of negative information about you or your business on the internet. These are measurable pursuits involving process and timelines that will serve as benchmarks for success.
Here are some examples:
- Increase or maintain a certain number of positive reviews or lessen the percentage of negative reviews by a specific percentage. To do so, encourage satisfied customers to leave a positive review (sometimes an incentive like a future discount on a product after leaving a good review can help).
Decrease negative reviews by simply improving your business. Listen to the negative reviews and take action to improve what you see are the most glaring complaints.
- Build or preserve good will with your customers and/or the public through brand monitoring and listening efforts. For example, monitor conversations about you on social media channels and respond within a strict time frame. You can also conduct surveys once a quarter which measure how satisfied your customers are with your response time.
- Maintain consistency across the web with consistent messages and branding between different online properties and profiles (e.g., social media channels, company profile pages, etc.). Ensure that any information published about you is accurate and up-to-date.
Step 4 – Educate Yourself About Reputation Management
It’s important for you or the manager of your business’ overall marketing strategy to get educated about online reputation management so he or she can create ORM goals and hold ORM providers accountable for whatever ORM services they provide.
This way, you or your ORM team will be able to speak the same or similar language when discussing online reputation management needs with an ORM provider.
Most of us have heard of Wikipedia, but do we really know how it works?
Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that everyone on the internet uses on a daily basis. Only registered users can make edits or add content to its website, which makes it trustworthy in the eyes of most viewers.
The majority of people who use Wikipedia are unaware that anyone can edit or alter content at any time, so it’s important for business owners to understand this risk when using Wikipedia or any other public wiki website as a resource or to obtain background information about their ORM or or business.
Wikipedia is not an ORM provider; it’s simply a source of information that anyone can edit, so it cannot be considered a positive contributor to your ORM strategy like third party review sites and social channels can.
This goes back to the importance of working with a knowledgeable online reputation management firm.
But, the more you learn about online reputation management, the better you’ll be at protecting your ORM on your own without relying on an ORM team.
Step 5 – Identify the ORM Issues You Are Most Worried About or Will Likely Experience in the Near Future
Once you’ve decided that ORM is important to your or business, or if you’re already experiencing issues with negative reviews or low search rankings, then it’s time to really get educated about online reputation management and what steps you can take to help improve your ORM issues.
Categorize and organize the areas of importance:
- Google My Business
- Better Business Bureau
- Business-related forums
It’s also advisable to find forums or communities that speak to your specific business or service.
It’ll be difficult for anyone else to listen to your concerns when they don’t know what you’re talking about or why these ORM issues are taking place in the first place.
In order for a conversation about how an ORM provider can help improve your online reputation, there needs to be a problem that an ORM provider can fix.
Here are a few ORM issues you might be experiencing or will experience in the near future that ORM providers are prepared to handle:
Negative or malicious comments or reviews on websites like Yelp or Google Business or any other public or third party review site.
If your business receives a large amount of negative comments, no one is going to want to do business with you because they don’t want to risk receiving poor customer service or being overcharged for their goods and services.
When customers see this type of ORM issue mentioned in several different places, particularly on third party review sites, then it’s likely they’re going to leave your website without ever making a purchase.
Brand hijacking or problems with duplicate or similar business names or website URLs.
If someone is using your business name as a domain name then it could appear as if they’re copying your business, which can cause you to lose potential customers who don’t want to risk buying from an illegitimate seller.
SEO spamming or link schemes to artificially boost organic rankings and offload negative pages elsewhere so they aren’t indexed by the major search engines or indexed on top pages, but rather buried or listed lower in search results.
This ORM issue is very common and it’s also one that ORMs can help solve by removing such links or removing such spam from your website or blog.
Step 6 – Why Hire a Reputation Management Expert?
It may be tempting to try and handle all of the above ORM issues yourself, but if you’re having trouble with managing them or don’t know where to start then hiring an online reputation management company who specializes in solving such problems is definitely worth considering.
The internet has not only made it easier for us to do business around the world, but worldwide customers can now access businesses or products or services in ways that have never been possible before.
However, the internet has also opened up new ORM issues or problems for businesses or individuals that they never had to deal with before.
Unless you’re working directly with online reputation management experts or are an expert yourself, it could be difficult or impossible to manage these types of ORM issues successfully on your own, which is why hiring a reputable ORM service should be considered.
Hiring an online reputation firm doesn’t need to be expensive either.
A reputational damage prevention strategy can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars per month all the way up to several thousand dollars per month depending on how much time, resources and manpower are needed to protect your ORM or resolve the problem.
However, when you consider how much revenue or profit or brand equity or business value your ORM is worth, it’s likely that the benefits of hiring an ORM provider will outweigh or cover the costs associated with improving or protecting your online reputation.
Step 7 – How Does Online Reputation Management Work?
Once you decide to hire an ORM service for whatever reason, whether it be to improve your ORM or protect against potential online problems, then it’s important to know what steps should be taken next.
There are several ways in which ORMs work, including but not limited to:
Removing negative reviews from websites like Yelp by working directly with these types of sites to hopefully resolve problems from the source.
Improving Search Engine Rankings or posts, articles and other types of content that shines a positive light on your entity will help push down any negative URLs that appear high in Google rankings.
Updating your social media profiles on sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn so they contain current information about you (including the types of services or products you offer), news about new projects or site updates and any other relevant information that helps users understand who you are as a person or what your business is all about.
This is an important part of not only establishing but also maintaining your brand’s reputation online over time.
Adding quality content to third party websites like Wikipedia that accurately represents who you are as a person or what your business is all about. These types of content builds can be done in conjunction with a blog post writing campaign described earlier.
However, when it comes to protecting yourself against negative reviews that may be posted by disgruntled customers on third party websites like RipOffReport, it’s important that you understand there is no legal recourse available at this time.
The best way to protect yourself is by proactively managing online reputations through activities like writing blog posts, publishing third party reviews on authoritative websites like Yelp and posting on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to improve your business’s online reputation, Avita Group has been managing online reputation for nearly 20 years and is a leading digital marketing agency in Los Angeles.