There is more to Online Reputation Management (ORM) than simply monitoring social media, and while the practice has its roots in public relations, in the digital environment it is also more than traditional methods of PR. In fact, ORMis more important today than ever because of its impact on revenue.
The ability to control public content and shape the online conversation about your business is vital to business success. Social media and online review platforms have made it very simple for people to leave public comments online that impact your business’ reputation. While there is nothing any business can do to stop people talking about you online, anOnline Reputation Management strategy can help take control of the conversation.
Businesses of every size can benefit from having astrategy to manage their online reputation. ORM strategies will typically involve a combination of PR, SEO and ORM.
When people search for your business online, they’re looking forinformation, good or bad, to help them make an informed purchasing decision. Businesses can implement strategies that positively shape their brand online and create the best possible impression.
What are people saying about you?
No matter the size of your business, your customers are talking about you online, whether that be a comment, a post, a tweet or a review, and other customers are listening. It’s important to take a proactive approach by monitoring and managing online interactions.
Monitoring content enables mentions to be processed and evaluated. In doing so you can determine whether specific interactions may have a positive or negative effect on your reputation and whether further management is required.
Online Reputation Management is not only something that happens in a crisis, it is constant and consistent. It requires a plan for how and when to respondto what people say about your business online.
For local businesses who rely heavily on a high star rating supported by positive reviews, taking control of your online reputation is everything, but the occasional negative review isn’t something to be alarmed about. On the contrary, reviews should look natural, so the occasional negative review may help your brand by making your reviews look more honest and trustworthy. Furthermore, a negative review can provide a fantastic opportunity to manage a customer complaint and turn a defected customer into an advocate.
You should always address negative feedback as quickly as possible to prevent the situation from escalating intoa crisis, which can easily happen with social media.Manage your reactionswith care and consideration to create a cycle of contentthat reflects well on your business.
‘Monitoring’ and ‘responding’ are two key principles involved in Online Reputation Management, so consider what strategiesto put in place for managing what people say about you.
What messages do you want people to see?
When people want to learn more about something, they Google it.Promoting positive content and driving down negative or unwanted results in search engines is a method used for ‘Controlling’online impressions, the third key principle in ORM.
This starts with setting up and optimising ownedchannels, such as your website, blog, social media accounts, links, local directories and other online content.
Search algorithmsuse mathematical formulas to attribute rank to a search result by determining its authority and trustworthiness. Links and reviews do wonders to promote content to the top of Google, along with traffic and user behaviour. Blogs naturally attract a lot of links, especially when pushed out to social media, so ORM could be your best defence.
With Google showing more pages of a website in its search engine results now, SEO can pay dividends in increasing page one impressions. The only caveat to sitelinks is that the site is safely in the top position for its brand name query. Never-the-less, SEO is an important investment in curating good impressions and owning page one results.
Similarly, social media algorithms prioritise posts that spark conversations. Businesses that create engaging content attractmeaningful interactionsthat make their post visible infollowers’ news feeds.Also, with algorithms seeing interactions on social networks and review sites as an indicator of popularity, user-generated content is a must.
Another way to defend your reputation is tohave content published in earned media. Independent, topically relevant publications with high domain authority in Googlecan help boost your business’ visibility in search results.
Managing customer feedback through surveys can help your business take control of the online conversation. This typically catches a disgruntled customer before they leave a review, allowing you to manage their complaint offline, as well as revealing promoters that can in turn be asked to leave a positive review.
An ORM strategy is a detailed set of stepsto enhance your online profile, mitigate risk and weather-proof your brand online.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
~ Warren Buffett
By the time you find yourself in the middle of a crisis, it can be too late to rescue your image. It might be easy to think that it won’t ever happen to you, but every business that’s found itself in the middle of a scandal would advise you not to.
Having an ORM strategy means that your business is working proactively to protect its brand and reputation, thinking strategically and acting pre-emptively by Monitoring, Responding and Controllingimpressionson your business.
Melissa How M.COM(MKTG) M.E.I. founded Marketing Wise in 2010 and has delivered digital marketing projects and campaigns for more than thirty organisations. She is a thought leader on Online Reputation Management for local businesses.