In the simplest terms, online reputation management (also known as ORM) is the process of creating, managing and maintaining the external perception of a business or individual online.

But what does this mean in practice? In this blog, we’ll take you through the basic tenets of online reputation management and explain why you need it.

What exactly is online reputation management?

In practical terms, online reputation management means creating a coherent strategy to ensure that customer perception of your brand or business is as strong as possible.

While online reputation management crosses over into digital marketing and online PR, it’s also a separate entity. While PR creates a positive view of the brand through the leverage of relationships online and off, online reputation management sticks to monitoring and managing media interactions and reputation online.

What is a good reputation management strategy?

Before you start crafting a strategy, it’s vital to understand the different channels. There are four key OR media channels as explained below:

  1. Owned media

This refers to content creation that you have direct control over, such as blogs, websites, White Papers, reports, videos, app content, infographics, and case studies.

In order to maximise the impact of owned media, you need to boost your ranking on google through effective content creation and management, SEO, getting backlinks from sites that are considered authoritative and managing local search results.

  1. Shared media

This is any content shared on social media, including major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest and more. It includes your own content from your business or brand accounts and other people’s.

Any complaints online can be picked up via social media and go viral before you know it. This can lead to a reputational crisis that directly impacts your bottom line. Part of successful online reputation management then is to monitor social media consistently.

  1. Earned media

This is coverage of your brand or business on third-party platforms that you don’t pay for. So, this includes press coverage, online news sites, online magazines, research papers, mentions on TV and radio, being featured in blogs, press releases and influencer content mentions, review sites that aren’t under your direct control such as Yelp and Google and industry-specific listings on platforms such as Trustpilot and Glassdoor.

The way you achieve earned media is through online reviews, listings and well-placed content, all of which can lead to organic coverage. However, you can also strategize to reach out to influencers and publications to get coverage.

  1. Paid media

Influencer content that you directly pay for, social media and search advertising and paid-for/sponsored blog posts/media articles. The obvious benefit of this form of media is that you have total control over the narrative. The flip side is that it tends to cost a lot.

Why is reputation management so important to your brand?

Almost two-thirds of US consumers say that they won’t buy from a business or brand that appears untrustworthy. And the way they decide whether a brand is trustworthy or not is largely based on online coverage.

A negative online reputation, therefore, can directly impact how trustworthy people think you are and how many people will give you, their money.

Reputation management is vital for business success in 2023 for all kinds of reasons, including but not limited to, the following:

  • Around 60% of consumers say that they actively research a brand before making buying decisions. Up to 97% of consumers head directly for reviews of products and services to help them make up their minds.
  • It helps find ways to deal effectively with negative reviews and feedback, which is inevitable for every business. There is evidence to show that customers who posted complaints on social media and quickly got a response will spend more next time.
  • You get invaluable data and feedback about your products and services. For example, if there are complaints about the same thing from different people then you have a golden opportunity to improve your product or service.

What are 5 things you can do to protect your online reputation?

Devising a long-term online reputation management strategy takes time and expert knowledge, which is why we’d always advise working with professionals like Igniyte. But the following five steps are a good starting point to protect your business’s online reputation and minimize the impact of negative reviews.

Step 1 – Carry out a reputation audit

You need to find out how people are talking about your brand online. Conducting an extensive and thorough online reputation audit will give you this data, and show you what’s working, what isn’t and what needs to change.

This should start with a review of your own website, blogs, social media profiles and any third-party profiles you have. Simply use Google Incognito mode to search for your brand name and look at what appears at the top of page 1.

Divide these into those you have direct control over and those you don’t.

Step 2 – Set up an ORM strategy

Use the data you gathered to prioritize which parts of the strategy to action and when. This includes everything from reacting and responding to negative reviews to creating content and populating your own website with optimized content.

Depending on whether you are facing a reputational crisis right now or not will help to align your strategy with the most important tasks first.

Step 3 – Consistently monitor your brand

You need to know what people are saying about you online on a consistent basis. Use Google Alerts to ensure you don’t miss anything and take the time to conduct manual searches too.

There are various apps and software platforms to help with this.

Step 4 – Create a crisis management strategy

You may not be in crisis yet, but by strategizing correctly, you can ensure that if it happens, you’re ready. This should include an effective internal communications plan so that everyone knows their part to play.

Step 5 – Encourage customers to review your business online

The idea is not to avoid mentions online but to create a space where customers organically want to write positive things about you. Encouraging your customers to leave honest reviews on independent review sites can go a long way to creating trust with your customer base.

For help and expert advice on building and managing your online reputation, talk to the Igniyte team.

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