Best Practices for Effective Online Reputation Management
The term “reputation management” usually pops up during times of crisis. In fact, building a brand reputation and managing it through the business life cycle is a part of the overall marketing strategy. Since a brand’s online presence is essential to survival in this day and age, so is online reputation management or ORM.
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What Is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management is basically controlling the narrative around your brand, so customers and prospects perceive it the way you want them to. We could have dropped the fancy name and called it “brand communications” or PR instead, but there’s a difference. Online reputation management is mostly about SEO (search engine optimization), what people see about your brand on the first page of Google search results and social media in general.
Building rapport and sustaining it online is quite important because wherever the actual purchase takes place, many potential customers (and partners alike) obtain the first information about your brand from the results of their online search – and a very tiny portion of them scroll past the first page.
There are a variety of digital channels where people come across your brand. Some channels, like your website or Google Ads, are in your control, while others, like social media or review sites, require careful management in case of negative publicity.
Three Categories of Reputation Management
The three main components of online reputation management are owned, paid, and earned content or media. Lately, a fourth category that refers to social media interactions emerged with the name “shared media”, but it’s not really that different from earned media.
In my personal opinion, there are only two categories: The ones you have total control over and the ones you can only manage.
Owned media is your website, blog pages, and the content you display on third-party websites. The more SEO-friendly your content is, the higher your rank will be on search results. Paid media or paid content gives you even more control since it is the content that you promote to increase traffic to owned media, collect leads, boost sales, etc. In this category, you are in charge of the content and message and who to reach.
Earned media and shared media are the ones that you have limited power over. It is the free exposure your brand receives in the press, articles, blog posts, forums, listings, review sites, social media mentions, and so on.
Why Is It Important to Manage Your Online Reputation?
Earned and shared publicity can be positive or negative. For example, an influencer who is extremely satisfied with your product or service can mention your brand in a piece of content for free, which can lead to unexpected success. On the other hand, an unflattering, if not scandalous, video can get into online circulation, and in that case, you are pretty much doomed. One of the most cited examples is that of a top airline company that lost $1 billion in market value due to a leaked video of a passenger being dragged off an overbooked flight.
That’s why not only big brands and celebrities but every business needs an online reputation management strategy. It is required for the customers to know, love, and trust your brand as well as be more willing to forgive it for occasional shortcomings.
What Are the Best Practices for Online Reputation Management?
The best practices can be summed up in a nutshell with one basic principle: Good reviews need to outweigh bad ones. If you really believe in your product or service, it may sound easy, but it needs an elaborate road map to succeed. An effective ORM strategy would cover these areas:
1. Know Where You Stand
Before starting to manage your online reputation, you must ensure you’ve built one. If you have your website, sales channels, social media profiles, and promotion materials ready, and in use, you’ll need to measure how they work out for you.
Performing a brand audit informs you about your brand’s current situation. It shows you the scale of your rapport and potential for growth. In your brand audit, answer these questions:
- What online assets do I own? How do they perform?
- Do people see my brand online, or am I lost in the endless dark void that is called “page 2 of the Google search results”?
→ Search for your brand-related keywords in an incognito window.
- How do people see my brand when they search for it on Google?
→ Search for your brand name in an incognito window.
- Are there enough controllable brand assets on the first page of search results?
- How do people see my brand on social media?
→ Check brand mentions, hashtags, brand keywords, etc.
- Are the reviews mostly positive or negative?
- Are there any off-brand or negative results that need to be corrected?
- Is there room for improving ratings, comments, reviews, user-generated photos, etc.?
- What are my traffic sources, and which platforms do I need to prioritize?
Further Reading – How Social Monitoring Helps Online Reputation Management
Did you know that social media monitoring is a key element of online reputation management? Read now to learn more.
2. Improve Your Position
Once you finish your audit, it becomes easier for you to set your S.M.A.R.T. goals, prioritize and allocate your resources accordingly. The best practices in this area cover some investments:
- Invest enough time to prepare a guideline: Establish company-wide guidelines, so all the teams and individuals know what they are responsible for, the responses they need to provide in different cases, how to deal with specific issues, and the tone of voice they need to sustain at all times.
- Invest in SEO and create engaging content: Determine your branded keywords and try to rank higher in the SERPs. Also, optimize your social media channels so you can better control the narrative of the first page. Focus on increasing the authority and trustworthiness of your own assets with content that can create backlinks. Having the channels you control dominate the first page of search engine results is better than any news articles and reviews from third parties. Remember that one mistake can turn positive reviews into negative mentions almost instantly. Furthermore, they can put off potential investors or impact relationships with key stakeholders.
- Invest in a multichannel help desk: People only write reviews when they are extremely satisfied or distressed. Your responses to these situations can make all the difference because, in the age of the customer, customer service is the new marketing. Even if you have limited resources, an affordable yet advanced tool like Juphy can help you gain the favor of your customers.
3. Generate Positive Customer Experiences
The best positive PR coverage comes from great customer experiences. Special offers, events, sponsorships, influencer marketing, and brand collaborations boost your awareness from time to time while professionally streamlined services and effective customer support provide a sustainable increase in reputation.
4. Ask for Feedback
Encourage customers to review your products or services either by creating surprising experiences or material incentives. It goes without saying that testimonials are precious for brand reputation, and they definitely positively influence customer behavior. Even if you receive some negative feedback, turning them into positive ones can earn customer trust and loyalty, as well as valuable information about your shortcomings. Also, remember that with enough positive reviews, you can push the negative comments down the SERPs.
Further Reading – How to Ask for Reviews from Your Customers
Everything you need to know about asking for customer feedback is in this article. Read more now!
5. Deal with It Before It Becomes an Issue
Normally you can’t anticipate a crisis, but you can cover basic weaknesses with a crisis management and reputation recovery plan at hand. You need to monitor your brand mentions and related keywords on search engines, social platforms, and review sites to be informed about possible threats and work on turning them around before they become a crisis.
Juphy helps you constantly monitor your brand interactions with its keyword tracking feature and automatically organizes the queries according to sentiment. Having them neatly arranged in a single shared inbox helps you set the urgency of the messages more rapidly and respond to all kinds of situations in record time.
Online reputation management matters for brands of all sizes. A poor reputation can impact retention, sales, investor confidence, and even hiring. Don’t wait until you face a crisis, but act proactively to take control of your brand’s narrative. Telling your story in an effective and trustworthy manner will keep you relatively safe and help you prosper.
Online reputation management controls the narrative around your brand so customers and prospects perceive it the way you want them to. It is mostly about SEO (search engine optimization) and what people see about your brand on the first page of Google search results and social media in general.
It is important to manage your online reputation because earned and shared publicity can be positive or negative. For example, an unflattering, if not scandalous, video can get into online circulation, and in that case, you are pretty much doomed. One of the most cited examples is that of a top airline company that lost $1 billion in market value due to a leaked video of a passenger being dragged off an overbooked flight.
The best practices can be summed up in a nutshell with one basic principle: Good reviews need to outweigh bad ones. An effective ORM strategy would cover areas such as performing a brand audit, monitoring online mentions, responding to negative feedback, and creating positive content.
The three main components of online reputation management are owned, paid, and earned content or media. Lately, a fourth category that refers to social media interactions emerged with the name “shared media”.
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Manage all social media customer support inquiries in a unified inbox.
Related Article – Best 5 Online Reputation Management Tools of 2022
What do your customers say about your brand online? Do you use an online reputation management tool? Find the best tools here.