Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Online Reputation Management: What Does it Entail and Why You Need It?

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“Regard your good name as the richest jewel you can possibly be possessed of — for credit is like fire; when once you have kindled it you may easily preserve it, but if you once extinguish it, you will find it an arduous task to rekindle it again. The way to a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” This age old Socrates quote holds true in today’s digital world just as well as it did in Ancient Greece. As a matter of fact, online reputation has become critical in influencing the success or failure of any given firm. The incredibly high importance of online reputation has led to the birth of online reputation management (ORM). It combines marketing, public relations, legal and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies with the goal of protecting and promoting the online image and reputation of your business. Online reputation management (ORM) is used when your business is trying to address a negative or false comment online. In this process, brand mentions on websites and social media are constantly monitored. Under ORM, you have to receive negative online reviews and respond to media stories that portray your business in a negative manner. Let’s find out more about it.

Online Reputation Management: All You Need to Know

What is online reputation?

Online reputation is a term used to define the overall perception others have of you or your company/products/services. This perception is generally based on the information that is available on the internet. Such information usually consists of search results, images, videos, social media mentions etc.

What determines your online reputation?

Your online reputation depends on the kind of things you post online and the general public consensus of your business online. Your online reputation can be determined by the cumulative amount and visibility of positive, negative, and neutral content when people search online for your name, company, brand, products or services. 

In the era of extremely radical transparency, the first impression for an individual or business is usually made online. What once used to pass off as “privacy” is extremely unrealistic today, and is changing in an extremely dramatic manner. Navigation of this brave new world might seem intimidating at times. A big reason behind that is the fact that the stuff that we see online is nothing but a distorted version of reality. With the help of online reputation management, businesses and individuals can restore the image that might have taken a beating earlier.

What is reputation on the Internet?

Reputation on the Internet is a blanket term used to refer to people’s perception of your firm based on available online information. 62% of consumers surveyed said they would change their mind after reading 1-3 negative reviews about a product or service and 81% of consumers and senior executives said online search results highly influence their perception about a company.

What is Online Reputation Management (ORM) and how does it work?

Online reputation management works by combining marketing, public relations, legal and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for the protection and promotion of a firm or an individual’s online image/business reputation.

Google uses a very complex algorithm to decide which search result appears on a particular page. High authority content tends to rank among the first few pages of the search results while low authority content ranks very late/doesn’t rank at all. Reputation management firms seek to work towards influencing search results by improving the authority and search visibility of positive content. This is done to protect and promote a company’s reputation. It also helps rescue a firm from its existing negative image.

What are some common Online Reputation Management (ORM) tactics?

Though different reputation management firms have varying reputation management tactics, they tend to use one (or a combination of some) of these tactics:

  • Promote Positive Customer Reviews
  • Article and Content Marketing to Blogs, News Sites and Web 2.0 Sites
  • Business Profile Development
  • Monitoring online mentions of an individual or brand and coordinating a thoughtful, rapid response
  • Publishing professionally written content on trusted web sites with high search engine authority and maximum visibility
  • Social Media Profile Optimization
  • Press Release Distribution
  • Sponsor Contests and Giveaways
  • Online Reputation Monitoring
  • Interlinking high impact positive web content
  • Optimizing existing websites and social media profiles to rank higher in the search results for select keywords
  • Contacting the source to edit or remove negative content
  • Filing a formal complaint with the search engine or webmaster

Who needs reputation management?

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Perhaps no other quote can sum up the need for reputation management as well as this quote by Warren Buffet.

If you have an online presence, you need reputation management. Whether you are a medical professional, lawyer, engineer, web developer, small business owner, accountant or independent contractor, cultivating a positive online image is very important for you. Whether you are job hunting, applying for college, looking to attract new customers or trying to get a date, the first impression that you make will be online. These days, customers research everything online before they choose to buy anything. Brand management is more important than ever before and a positive reputation is your most valuable asset. Here’s what Beth Worthy has to say about it:

“Nowadays, the majority of people are searching online for any business. They want to see that you are credible and want to hear it straight from another customer’s mouth. People will still look your business up even after getting a recommendation from a trusted family or friend.”

Why do you need reputation management?

According to a recent study, 78% of the respondents said they believe it is very important to look up information about people and/or businesses online before deciding to interact or do business with them and 74% would most likely refuse to interact or do business with a person or company if they found negative information about them online.  Bad reviews, misleading news and blog articles, negative comments in forums and online defamation by angry customers, former employees or competitors can destroy your business and your reputation.

The lack of any real consequence that an online interaction provides, has allowed people to be extremely crass, crude, cruel and hurtful in their comments. Nobody will ever talk as rudely in the real world as they do online and away with it.

Reputation management online is more important than ever before and a positive reputation is your most valuable asset.

What are the benefits of online reputation management?

If there are two things that the internet doesn’t do, they are forgiving and forgetting. The internet’s impact on real life is only growing every day. Negative online content has broken relationships, destroyed careers and bankrupted businesses. In today’s digital world, a positive online reputation is invaluable. Here’s what Germany Kent has to say about it:

“What you post online speaks VOLUME about who you really are. POST with intention. REPOST with caution.”

“Image and reputation are just as important as finances and associations.”

Whether you run a luxury car showroom or a launderette, you are not immune to the negative impact of online attacks and bad reviews. If your reputation suffers, your business will suffer consequently. Many large corporations hire expensive PR firms to protect their online reputation but every small business can’t hire a PR firm whose client retainer is more than the annual revenue of the small business. For individuals, the online image has the power to affect every single aspect of employment, starting right from recruitment and going on till retirement.

Harris Interactive published a report on behalf of job site CareerBuilder that provides evidence of this potential impact.  The survey of 2,000 U.S. hiring managers found that 52% of employers use social network sites to conduct research on job candidates – up significantly from 39% in 2013. 

21% of the managers say that they are looking for reasons not to hire a candidate; 48% say that they have found information that caused them not to hire someone.  

Another Harris Interactive study found that 18% of hiring managers have fired an employee for something they posted on social media, up from 12% in 2014.

A 2013 Pew survey revealed that among social networking site users with recent dating experience, 30% used social media to find out more information about someone they were interested in dating. If they had some explicit or objectionable material on their profiles, it can hamper their chance of establishing a romantic relationship.

“If you are in a competitive industry, great online reviews are not just nice to have, they are a requirement!”

― Tom Kenemore, Fans On Fire: How to Skyrocket Your Leads, Sales, and Reputation with The Most Trusted Form of Marketing

Business owners and professionals also need to be concerned about online reputation. Here are just a few types of individuals/businesses that need to be very careful about their online reputation: Psychologists / Therapists, Dentists, Doctors / Physicians, Hair Salons / Beauty, Professionals, Home Repair (Plumbers, Electricians, Locksmiths), Real Estate Agents, Lawyers and Law Firms, Accountants, Brokers and Investment Advisers, Insurance Agents, Restaurants

Hotels, Car Dealers, Chiropractors etc.  

In a recently released survey, 81% of the surveyed population agreed that online search results have an impact on a company’s perception. Negative reviews, defaming news articles or any other kind of embarrassing content can lead to an abject failure in making a good first impression. We’ll conclude this post on online reputation management with these quotes from Stacey Kehoe:

“Demand for your business is driven by the quality of your reputation. Live and breathe your values to maintain control of your brand reputation.”

“Reputation and influence must be earned. Social media is the quickest way to show your audience how good you are.”

“Reputation is everything when it comes to building a digital brand”

“What you say to customers is advertising. What they say to their friends, is the truth. Businesses should be seeking advocates of their brand at all times.”

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