A Beginner’s Guide to Online Reputation Management

If you are running a business, you may have already dealt with negative feedbacks from a few embittered customers. It’s just one reason that could cost you prospective clients. Moreover, it’s not easy as getting rid of embarrassing party pics from Facebook.

Businesses get access to powerful tools from the internet to boost their growth and expand their territories. However, there are downsides as well. For instance, the amount of control you get over how your business appears online is limited. Your business’ reputation is vulnerable online, as even a single person with an ill intent to damage it, will find it easy to do just that…

…unless you are equipped with some online reputation management (ORM) strategy.

A proper online reputation management obviously requires people with expertise in PR, technology, and online makeovers. They should be able to essentially bury the negative feedbacks, and promote those content that assure clients that your business delivers what it promises.

So why does a business need help managing its reputation? They can do it themselves with their own team, right?

Because it requires profound technical expertise. But of course, there are many things the business can do from their end. However, to repair the damage done to their reputation, they will need services that are tailored to serve that purpose, and personalized for the kind of business their client is running.

It’s a bit sophisticated…kind of.

Basically, it does 3 things.

Monitor. Prevent. Clean up.

Monitoring – This is the most important of the three. You need to know what’s going on with your business.

What people think of it? What alternatives do people have other than your business? How your business appears to them? Will they recommend your services to others?

These are but a few questions you need to consider. There are a number of tools that can provide you with answers to those questions. Google Alerts, Social Mention etc. are two great examples.

Preventing – To prevent something from tarnishing your brand means there should be some amount of protection as well. This protection should extend to not just the company but also to its high profile employees and products/services.

Before we go into the details, here’s another fact about ORM. It shares something common with SEO. You see, branding is one very important asset when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO). Coincidentally, it’s also vital in ORM. For your ORM efforts to work, you need to establish your brand well.

Social media can help you with that. You can start a blogging domain, and share your content in social networking websites. However, keep in mind that social media is a double-edged sword. If the content you publish lacks quality or are irrelevant and useless, your plan will backfire. Readers will respond with negative remarks, and that in turn affects your brand.

The more established your brand, the higher your position in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).

Clean up – You can be sure this is what you should do next once the damage has been done to your brand. If you think your online reputation is being tarnished, or when you are overwhelmed with targeted attacks from embittered customers, you will need a cleanup service.

Cleanup is just one of the things an ORM service can do for your business. The main purpose is to unify all of your online accounts including social media accounts so as to establish a solid reputation for your business. Technically, SEO falls under ORM too.

Signs that demand ORM

Businesses are willing to be ‘transparent’ in the internet i.e. they are willing to be open to criticisms and feedback. If done right, it can provide beneficial results. However, many SMBs (small – medium sized businesses) choose not to take that risk. It can do more harm than good in the long run though. Businesses online should be transparent, but only if they have an online reputation management service to back them up.

Here are a few signs you should watch out for in your business.

  • Your products and/or services getting too much criticism
  • If your competitors take advantage of the negative feedback you received
  • If your employees are clueless about social media marketing
  • If your brand is being negatively publicized in online forums

If even one of them is present, you should hire an online reputation manager, and a reliable one at that.

Tips to keep in mind

If you still want to manage your online reputation by yourself, here are a few tips that could come in handy.

  • Earn people’s trust and respect – Trust and respect are hard to gain in the online realm. That is why they are very important for businesses online. Build enough trust and your clients won’t lose faith in you even if a few negative reviews about your products show up online.
  • Monitor social media activities – Nowadays, people use social media to post their concerns about a product or to get opinions on a product from a particular brand. If they are talking about you in Facebook, Twitter or any other platform, you should be the first one to know.
  • React quickly, respond softly – If you ever receive complaints from customers, make sure not to keep them waiting for a response from you. Let them know that you are aware of the issue, and that you are working on it. Reassure them that things will be fine. But if you keep them waiting, they would get frustrated enough to lose their trust in your brand, and might even post negative feedbacks in public forums.
  • Never neglect criticisms – Some firms choose not to respond to criticisms believing that the fire will die out after a while. This will most likely antagonize the customer into taking more drastic measures to get the business’ attention.
  • Ask for help if necessary – Sometimes you may feel like your reputation management efforts aren’t making a difference, and is neither protecting nor restoring your brand image. That’s when you should hire a professional online reputation manager.