It wasn’t so long ago that if you felt disgruntled with a company, its products or services, you would share that opinion with a few friends. You might even see your experience reported in the local newspaper. But the chances were, that it would quickly be forgotten as new stories came in.
With the advent of the internet, all that changed. Now communications and reviews are shared in a second with thousands if not millions of other potential customers and that review stays around forever. This has then resulted in businesses needing to carefully manage their digital reputation, which often means enlisting the help of a reputation management company.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management means taking proactive steps to manage the conversations taking place within the internet. Whether that’s taking place on a website discussion forum, through social media or on review sites, a reputation management company will aim to ensure that the information presented first is positive. Where there is negative content in the form of complaints, poor reviews or defamatory comments, then the online reputation management company will work towards reducing its impact or it being removed.
The purpose of online reputation management is not to mislead, after all, it would be unrealistic for a company never to have a complaint; instead, they aim to create a balance through highlighting the positive aspects of their client’s reputation..
What is The Difference Between Online Reputation Management and Public Relations?
At first glance, reputation management and public relations can appear to be very similar. Now while it is likely that you will utilise the power of both of these strategies within your marketing plan, these two approaches have some significant differences.
Public relations is all about working with others to share positive information about a business or brand. That’s likely to include developing relationships with journalists and social media influencers. It’s then hoped that when you have published a press release or have news to share, that they will, in turn, share it with their audiences without the need to pay a fee.
The challenge with public relations activity is the lack of control. You’re entirely at the whim of the individual or organisation as to whether or not they will publish your release. Then, even if they do, they may change how communications are delivered, resulting in a very different delivery of information to what was planned or needed.
While public relations is still a valid and essential aspect of a company’s marketing campaign, its impact can be limited within digital marketing.
Online reputation management provides control. It allows individuals to decide exactly what appears online and when that happens. Whether that’s through content on a company website, a personal blog or the information found when using a search engine such as Google.
That control also resonates within social media marketing, ensuring that anyone looking to find out more about a company or an individual can easily find important messages.
What Can I Expect from a Reputation Management Company?
A reputation management company is often called in when businesses need help in handling crisis situations. However, the best way to deal with a crisis is to prevent it from happening in the first place! A proactive online reputation management strategy can ensure that current and potential clients are presented with positive information each time they come across a business or an individual online. And should the worst happen, then a professionally developed crisis plan can quickly be put into action at the first sign of a problem.
Online Reputation Analysis
One of the first steps for a reputation management company is to assess and analyse a business or individual’s existing online reputation. Then they can start the process of formulating a personalised positive reputation strategy.
But before that begins, they will also want to get a greater understanding of how a brand or business should be perceived, that in turn will allow them to develop the right approach to achieve your goals.
Search Engine Optimization
One of the most important aspects of reputation management is implementing a long-term strategy around search engine optimization (SEO). There are several elements to this approach, including web development and the building of positive links back to your site.
When undertaken by experienced reputation management consultants, effective SEO provides control over the information that individuals see when searching on the internet via a site such as Google. Two SEO approaches which can effectively build an excellent reputation are:
1. Increase Rankings of Positive Search Results
Search engine optimization is essential for every business whether you’re a 100 per cent .com business or a pure ‘bricks and mortar’ operation. Gone are the days of customers searching newspapers and printed phone directories to find a plumber in London or a Newcastle local taxi firm. Google and the other search engines are now seen as the best way for people to find the services they need and check if they have a good reputation and positive reviews.
All this means that it’s essential for businesses to ensure that they achieve 100 per cent positive content at the top of the search engines results.
2. Create Content Around Potentially Negative Search Results
While everyone wants to avoid negative search results, the chances are that someone will be unhappy with the service provided by your team at some point. This then means that without action from the online reputation management experts, your potential clients will get to see negative reviews and comments first.
Content marketing is a really good option for online reputation management. It provides a way of controlling the narrative and providing an environment of damage limitation. Now that might mean that when people search Google for your business name and ‘bad reviews’, instead of looking at damaging content, they will see content explaining how you work with all your customers to ensure their satisfaction which then avoids ‘bad reviews’.
Social Media Reputation Management
Social Media Marketing Campaigns
Posting engaging content is one of the best ways of developing a following for your brand. A reputation management company will develop a content marketing plan to ensure that people can find the best quality information on your page. This, in turn, allows them to know that they’re dealing with experts within the field who they will want to connect with. Reputation management also works as a two-way process, so engaging and getting to know your top followers will also feature within their strategy
Additional benefits to online reputation on social media platforms come from their ability to help you rank on the first page of Google searches and in providing a great way for potential clients to become familiar with your brand.
When you take time to listen to the comments being made about the business or brand, then you’ll soon know if a reputation change is taking place. An online reputation management agency will follow comments and mentions across each channel over time to assess if there are changes to the company reputation.
Resolving Issues Which Influence Reputation
An additional advantage to this digital style of connecting with others is the rapid speed of service it enables in communications with customers. This can then provide an insight into how your team operates and the level of help you provide.
Management of Customer Reviews
You can only imagine the response that a potential client may have should they search for a business and then be presented with negative reviews about their product or service. This is when the agency will develop online reputation management campaigns that encourage genuine customers to post positive feedback. This, in turn, shifts the likelihood of potential customers seeing a damaging review.
Where there is negative content, then there is the opportunity to get back to the reviewer to find out how the situation can be put right. When people know that there is a 100 per cent commitment to high levels of service and achieving a successful resolution, then they will come back in the future.
There is also the potential for malicious reviews that make false allegations. This is where the power of the reputation management agency can really assist a business. That’s because when reasoned conversation and engaging with the individual fails to get results, then they will get in touch with website owners and hosting companies to get the false information removed. And if that doesn’t remedy the situation, then they will be able to advise on the legal options available.
The reputation of a business has always been important and in the online world even more so. While public relations and traditional marketing still have their place, an online reputation management company can make the difference in achieving the results you want for your online reputation.