If you’ve heard the phrase ‘online reputation management’ and you’re not quite sure what it means, what it entails and how to do it, then this blog is for you.
In today’s ultra-connected online world, online reputation management is essential for you to take and retain control over your brand – whether that’s a personal or professional brand.
Simply put – what people say about you online matters. It matters for your career and for your personal reputation too. And while it may seem as if it’s rather out of your control, it’s not. Online reputation management is a strategy to protect your online reputation, and it’s accessible to everyone.
What is online reputation monitoring?
The term ‘online reputation monitoring’ is used interchangeably with online reputation management. It’s essentially the same and starts with proactively gathering data about your brand and what people are saying about it.
Your personal reputation has a knock-on impact on any brand, business or organisation obviously connected with you online. Therefore, your online reputation derives from everything you’ve ever posted online that’s linked with your name or your brand name.
This means all social media comments, blogs, contributions to articles or press releases and any other forms of content you may have contributed over the years. You may even have forgotten that some of it exist.
The Internet, however, never forgets! Therefore, your online reputation holds so much sway over people’s opinion of you and forms your reputation.
What are the reasons for online reputation management?
For brands and businesses, there isn’t really anything else that’s more important than your online reputation. It’s what investors, customers, peers and employees use to form their opinion of your business or brand.
In other words, your business’s online reputation builds trust with these important groups of people. By properly managing and maintaining a positive online reputation you can, therefore, grow your business much more effectively.
It’s very common for businesses to wait until they hit a reputational crisis before they even start to strategise for their digital reputation. This is, of course, a monumental error and can cost a company dearly, when it just doesn’t have to.
Breaking down the basics – online reputation management
Online reputation management (ORM) refers specifically to the way in which information and commentary about a person, brand or business is managed online.
The overarching goal is to control the links that show on the first page of Google search results. The kind of strategy that may achieve this includes social media marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), public relations (PR) and various customer service strategies.
Carried out correctly, an ORM strategy will be able to establish a controllable search environment that accurately depicts the whole picture of the brand, individual or organisation.
Why is the first page of Google search results so important?
When people type your brand name into Google, they will look at the first few links on the first page of results.
Those few links will inform their opinion of you and collectively this creates your online reputation. So, if one of those initial links is negative – even if it’s completely unwarranted or unfair – then that will taint people’s perceptions of your brand or organisation.
The perception of strangers shapes your online reputation. And these people don’t have to be current, past or even potential customers to influence others’ ideas about you or your brand.
Why Google is so important, that’s because the company controls around 92% of search engine traffic. Furthermore, around 90% of people won’t look any further than the first page of results before they’ve made up their minds.
Trust levels in search engines are growing all the time with at least 64% of people saying they fully trust the results they find when they search for information about a brand or business.
We can see just how important the first page of Google’s search results is for your online reputation.
How can I improve my online reputation management?
Your first step is to establish what your online reputation currently is. Carry out the research necessary to ascertain how your reputation stands, and where you want it to be and create a strategy to get you there.
However, when it comes to creating an ORM strategy that will make a tangible, measurable difference, you need to include multiple digital channels within your plan. This is why it’s advisable for brands, businesses or CEOs/business leaders to work with professional reputation management firms that can oversee the complexity of the strategic changes that need to be made.
Incorporating multiple digital channels into the ORM strategy
ORM affects many different online channels and to be successful in the management of a brand or name, it’s necessary to actively manage every single one.
We’ve broken the main digital channels into categories:
Media you own
This category is about any online media channels that are under your control. This could be your brand or personal website, corporate blogs, or content you provide for third-party sites.
SEO is one of the most important tools in your ORM arsenal for owned media. By positioning as many controllable channels onto the first-page search results for Google (and other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo), then the more you have direct control over your own online reputation.
This will mean creating high-quality, fully optimised content across these channels to promote their rankings on Google (and other search engines).
This category is any coverage you or your brand gets from third-party platforms, including press coverage, blog posts on other websites, news articles on other websites, comments on forums such as Reddit, third-party listings on review sites such as Trustpilot and review sites such as Yell and Google.
For obvious reasons, these media outlets are incredibly important for your brand reputation. Every time a customer, reviewer, or anyone else mentions your brand name in a positive light, they are helping your organisation to build trust and ultimately to build your reputation.
Google also reacts to consistent positive signals by attributing your name or brand name as more trustworthy. And again, this means higher rankings in the all-important search results.
This is any channel where you must pay to feature your name or your brand name. It can apply to any online platform, social media channel or another digital marketing platform where you have to pay. For example, this covers things like Google Ads, sponsored messages on LinkedIn and any sponsored content.
However, consumers are incredibly media savvy and tend to trust owned or earned media more than something that is obviously paid for by your brand. They won’t trust paid ads as much as they will trust positive peer reviews, for example.
This is any content marketing that is shared between your organisation’s brand and other brands. Unsurprisingly, this covers social media accounts where anyone can comment on the profiles and comments you or your brand owns.
The way in which people interact with your brand on shared media platforms is extremely important for your online reputation. A workable and useful ORM strategy will include monitoring the feedback that accrues on platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.
What is an example of reputation management?
An example of reputation management could include anything from actively removing negative content about your brand online, replying to online reviews or proactively creating optimised content to garner positive comments on key platforms.
As we’ve already touched on, today’s online reputation management is not about responding to crises – such as a CEO misspeaking and getting hammered by negative headlines. Rather, it should be about proactively creating a strong, positive online reputation up front.
Prevention, as they say, is better than cure, and that’s certainly the case for effective ORM strategies.
Different online reputation management scenarios
We work with all kinds of individuals, businesses, brands and organisations across multiple sectors on different reputation management challenges.
By taking a bespoke approach to each client’s needs, we are able to create strategies that make a difference in the short term but also last for the long haul.
Crisis management is just one aspect of successful online reputation management, and while much can be achieved in response to high-profile situations, working for the long-term future should be part of every brand’s future strategy.
Ultimately, online reputation management must be front and centre as part of every organisation and brand’s marketing strategy. The digital marketing landscape will continue to evolve, and you need to be ready for the potential impact on your brand’s reputation.
Contact Igniyte to discuss your online reputation and how we can help you take control.