Back in the day, the only people who needed to worry about PR were big name business leaders who were known to the public and celebrities.
Today, it’s a whole different ballgame. Smaller brands, small business and just about every individual has an online presence. And this online presence dictates what people – whether they’re idle browsers or potential customers searching for your business name online – think of you.
An online world needs online reputation management
Businesses and brands exist today in a world of active, two-way communication. That means that people are just as likely to talk about your brand online as you are to advertise it.
The control over your online reputation is no longer solely in your hands. In fact, as we’ve seen with viral stories about an individual or business, sometimes all it takes is one poorly though through Tweet and your brand is getting trashed all over the Internet.
We know that most people start their customer journey by typing the brand, individual or business name into Google. We also know that no brand, person, or business can afford to ignore their online reputation and hope that it somehow works out.
Online reputation management (ORM) should be proactive, purposeful, and strategic. At Igniyte, we work with all kinds of clients in all kinds of business sectors on their reputation management. Whether we start working as a result of a reputation crisis, or we’re working to build up a positive presence from scratch, here’s what we’ve learned over the years about how to manage online reputation.
Defining online reputation management – what exactly is it?
ORM aims to create and build on a positive perception of a brand, business or individual. Effective online reputation management includes active monitoring of the public perception, the addressing of any negative content that could adversely impact the subject, and the implementation of various strategies to build a positive public perception.
To manage online reputation, it’s necessary to first monitor the subject’s current online reputation. Then, content marketing, digital PR and SEO can be utilised to proactively improve it.
Ensuring the subject is properly, and honestly, represented and that customers are left with a positive view of the subject are the main aims of ORM strategies.
Several different channels come under the umbrella of online reputation management. Let’s take a closer look.
Breaking down the online reputation management channels
- Paid media
This is where online content is paid to feature the subject’s brand (in this blog, we’re using ‘subject’ to mean the individual, brand or business concerned). Paid media includes social media advertising, influencer promotions, sponsored posts and Google Ads, among other channels.
There are always very strict guidelines in place across the high quality channels regarding the way that paid media is utilised. Therefore, this should only be used as part of a wider, targeted, online reputation management strategy.
- Earned media
This is the media coverage that the subject gains from other platforms at no cost. Earned media includes all kinds of media including, but not limited to, forums, blogs, vlogs, press coverage, external articles and some third-party listings that are specific to the subject’s industry sector.
Review platforms are also included under earned media as customers are leaving independent opinions about the subject. Earned media sources are a very effective and useful way to create trust with new visitors to the subject online, and to create a positive reputation.
- Shared media
Subjects must track and pay attention to what’s happening on all kinds of channels in the same way that they would once have paid attention to changes in a physical location for a competitor.
As well as a high-quality website, the subject should set up and use accounts across different social networks. These can be thought of as a kind of business card, and therefore, should always be up to date and used.
For example, negative comments on Twitter that go unaddressed, or poor ratings on an independent reviews website that go unanswered, can all negatively impact the subject’s online reputation.
It’s essential to track mentions of the brand, individual or business so that you’re aware of what people are saying.
- Owned media
This is subject’s own website and perhaps a blog – whatever media that is fully under the subject’s control. By working to improve the ranking of important pages on the website, it’s possible to positively boost the brand’s reputation.
While this is under your control as the subject, it’s still very important to establish effective online reputation management practices across the board.
Why managing your online reputation benefits you
Google likes the content that ranks highly. It’s not there to police the content for accuracy or fairness, so this work must be done through online reputation management.
By focusing on all the relevant channels, it’s possible to create a workable ORM strategy that misses nothing. This kind of strategy has the following benefits:
- Increases buyers
Brands that neglect online reputation could be losing out on a sizeable customer base. Around 81% of potential buyers hop online to do their own research before making a buying decision. Therefore, the way that a brand appears online is crucial to the final decision.
- Spreads positive vibes
Reputation management is the 21st century version of ‘my friend recommended it’. It’s good old word of mouth, just online. We know that 85% of consumers consider online reviews as trustworthy as a friend’s recommendation.
That’s why monitoring online reviews is so important. A single negative review that catches on and spreads can do a lot of damage. By dealing with a negative customer review in the appropriate way, you can turn a negative into a positive.
A Lee Resource study shows that 70% of customers who got a decent response to an online complaint form a positive view of the brand in question. Furthermore, they say they’d be happy to go back and buy from them again.
- Gives you something to work with
Online reputation monitoring and measuring gives the subject critical feedback to work on. By collecting the facts about your online reputation, you can start strategizing to make it work for you. Simply by listening to what people think about your business.
Check out our past blogs to find out exactly how best to manage your online reputation and give our team of experts a call.