Have you ever done a quick Google search for yourself?
What shows up? That ugly arrest from years ago or your carefully planned website, social media channels and other relevant information?
Let me rephrase that: what information would you rather show up in the search results?
Online reputation management (ORM) involves creating, fixing and monitoring the public information about an individual or company available on the Internet.
Should you have undesirable information about your company lurking around the web, or embarrassing pictures from the ‘ghosts of frat nights past’ on social media channels, an online reputation management plan may be just what you and your business needs.
Why Do I Need Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management is ideal for individuals and companies in a variety of situations. Common situations include removing or hiding bad company reviews and false information, dealing with embarrassing and compromising content, or simply continuing to manage and improve the reputation of a person or business online.
The purpose of online reputation management includes far more than managing bad information; it’s about building a positive and strong digital reputation for your business and brand.
Control Past (and Ugly) Information
Is there something or some event from your past that could easily come back to haunt you online? Do those aggravating college pictures keep surfacing on Facebook?
With an active ORM plan, you can have control over what information shows up when interested individuals are looking for you or your business online.
Therefore, instead of pesky information from your past being the first bit of content presented to customers, your website, blog, social channels and other information will dominate the search results.
Manage Aggressive Customers and Their Opinions
The Internet is a lovely place where consumers can rant, rave and say whatever they so please. From negative reviews on websites such as Yelp, to sarcastic social media comments, your customers have a digital megaphone and are not afraid to use it.
Create or Maintain Your Online Reputation
If your business is new to the game or you are just starting out online as a professional, a comprehensive ORM plan can help you create and maintain a positive reputation in the digital world.
How Do I Get Started With ORM?
Due to the cohesiveness of digital marketing tactics, online reputation management can be accomplished using multiple channels and techniques. From public relations to online review management, professional ORM companies employ a multitude of tactics to manage or repair your reputation on the Internet. We’ll cover the main three concepts.
Did you know that the majority of online transactions begin with a single search? Because of this, it is crucial to have only factual and pertinent information about your company displayed in the search results. Without an active ORM plan, negative or completely unrelated information about other individuals or companies of the same name could appear.
The entire purpose of search marketing is to influence the search results so your website and brand show up when customers are actively looking for your products and services. Without implementing SEO or ORM (acronyms galore!), your customers could be misguided online, meaning you’ll lose out on a whole lot of business.
Remember how customers have their digital megaphone and love to use it? Unhappy customers can, and will, rant on your various social media channels about their experiences with your business. An active online reputation management plan can help you respond to these comments and opinions professionally and in a positive manner.
The key to leveraging social media and your online reputation is to respond to criticism at the right time and in the right place, with the right tone. If someone says they did not enjoy your product or service, do not fight back. Calmly apologize for their experience and find a way to fix it – it’s that simple.
Should you choose to not respond and let the comments pile up, you’ll have a bigger problem than disgruntled customers.
Search Engines love content. Customers love content. Social media channels love content. Face it, we all love content. Well-optimized and engaging content will not only enhance your online reputation through increased and relevant search rankings, it will also allow your business to interact with customers and provide them with useful information.
Blogging is a great method for online reputation management tactic for producing truthful and interesting content about your business, products, services, industry, and more.
From Yelp to Google to Facebook, customers have the ability to rate and review your business online. No matter how hard you try to please every customer, there will be at least one frustrated customer who only expresses their true feelings behind the cloak of the Internet. Many of these sites provide business owners the opportunity to respond to the review, and determine how to improve their operations to better suit customer needs and desires.
Remember, if you choose to respond to an angered customer, respond in a calm and professional manner. It is never a good idea to fight fire with fire.
Look Out For ORM Frauds
Due to the fact that ORM is needed by businesses and individuals far and wide, thousands upon thousands of scam companies have popped across the world. Do not be deceived by their claims.
One common claim fraudulent online reputation management companies make is: “There’s this really bad photo/video/story of you on the Internet. We’ll take it down for the small price of $500.”
First, a vast majority of the time said piece of reputation ruining content doesn’t truly exist and the company just looking for your money. (Unless of course, you really did rob a bank and have your mug shot taken. In that case, good luck.)
Plus, if you are gullible and fall into their trap, you’ll be caught in an endless cycle of lies and payments.
In Cheryl Conner’s article, “The Dark Side of Reputation Management: How It Affects Your Business”, she details a situation where a friend’s spouse was arrested for DUI, and somehow the mug shot ended up online. Immediately after the post appeared online, her friend received a proposition from an ORM service stating that for a fee, they could take down the photo and posting. The friend complied and paid the fee.
Of course, a few weeks later, the same situation and proposition arose. Her friend had been ‘had’. To make a long story short, prior to sending your entire wallet to a company, do your research.
Should you need online reputation management assistance, be sure to work with a reputable company implementing ethical tactics. It is best to be diligent and cautious in your search for an ORM company or team.
ORM can be a very beneficial online tactic for businesses and individuals in need of reputation maintenance. However, be careful of the tactics you implement and the companies you deal with.
Have you encountered any issues or situations with shady online reputation management companies? Are you implementing a current ORM plan? Share your thoughts below.