7 Top Strategies for Managing Your Company’s Online Reputation
Whether you are new to running a business or a seasoned pro, you are likely wondering about managing your reputation online. It’s a valid concern considering today’s marketing channels allow past and current customers, brand influencers, and consumer review sites to place their stamp of approval—or disapproval—on your company.
Obviously, no one wants the stamp of disapproval. For some companies, it can be the kiss of death on an otherwise useful product or service.
That’s why it’s critical to use an active voice when approaching the conversation about your brand in the online world. Before we take a deep dive right into the nitty-gritty of how to accomplish this task, it’s essential first to understand what goes into online reputation management and why it’s crucial to maintain it.
What Is ORM?
Online reputation management (ORM) is how business owners handle brand perception by monitoring online reviews, actively influencing popular search engines, and engaging with individuals discussing the company online. Ultimately, the goal of ORM is to promote a positive image all around.
Key Components of Online Reputation Management
There are several methods you can deploy when approaching ORM. Some companies use advanced search engine optimization (SEO) techniques while others prefer to deploy the use of a public relations (PR) firm. The Breeze team highly advocates a combination of several methodologies, including:
- On-page and off-page SEO
- Positioning yourself as a thought leader
- Responding to reviews online
- Creating content that outranks negative comments
- Social media engagement
If you are noticing a running theme running throughout ORM strategies, then you may be on to something. It takes a dedicated ability to manage your reputation using various technologies and tactics that carry distinct requirements for your strategic execution of ORM goes smoothly.
So, before we discuss the more finite techniques regarding ORM, let’s establish a solid understanding of the differences among online reputation management, search engine optimization, and publications. We will also examine how the strategies can work together seamlessly and produce results that will far exceed your expectations.
Your Big 3 Strategies: ORM, SEO, and PR
Many business owners and even some marketers confuse the roles of ORM, SEO, and PR. We don’t blame you a bit! It’s a lot to keep track of, not to mention the day-to-day operations of running the business itself.
It’s also the reason why we are going to keep this section short, sweet, and to the point (you’re welcome).
When we discuss online reputation management, we are referring to the big-picture strategy of directing the conversation about your brand online. SEO and public relations are different since they are how you accomplish ORM. Do you see the difference?
ORM is a strategy, while SEO and PR are the tactics. Therefore, it’s essential to understand how PR and SEO differ from accomplishing the same vision.
SEO vs. PR
SEO is a technique that runs two components concurrently: knowledge of search engines and consumer behavior. When you manage your SEO, you can influence keywords, website rankings, and domain authority.
Public relations is the technique you use to craft your responses to messages about your brand online. It’s the arm of your marketing efforts that set the framework for brand alignment, tonality, and making decisions.
SEO and PR, when combined, are two powerful ways that you can direct and participate in the conversation about your business online. When executing an ORM strategy, you cannot afford to ignore the balanced approach that accompanies SEO and PR work. They act as the foundation and cornerstone of ORM.
The Best Strategies for Online Reputation Management
Now that we have a comprehensive understanding of what ORM is and isn’t, why it’s vital to the health of your business, and what you can do to direct it, we can now shift focus by examining techniques that your company can take to participate in the conversation online.
Keep in mind that ORM can be fun. And remember every company, even highly popular and successful ones, find criticism every corner. While we don’t advocate that you ignore all negative commentary, don’t take it personally. Instead, consider thinking of it as a way to open up a dialogue between you and someone dissatisfied with your service or product offerings in some way.
Here are our top 7 techniques for managing your reputation online:
1. Go Ahead and Google Yourself
If you have been avoiding it, you have to pull off the band-aid at some point. Open up your browser and search your company’s name online. Enter your geographic location if you are not operating at the national or international level. Go ahead, we can while you do it…
…Congratulations! You took an essential first step in actively managing your reputation online. The best way to approach ORM is by figuring out where the conversations are occurring in the first place. It can also reveal accounts that you may have forgotten about over time.
Don’t Forget About Other Company Representatives
In case you want to take it a step further, search your name and the names of your vital company leaders. Any online activity is likely going to associate itself with the names of the individuals involved, and ultimately, it becomes associated with your organization. Make sure that you are downplaying the negative and highlight the positive.
Avoid Limiting Yourself to One Search Engine
Even though we referenced Google, don’t forget the other search engines, like Bing and Yahoo. Search engines use different algorithms that yield different results. What may appear on one set of results may not appear on another.
Social Media May Be a Treasure Trove
Also, you can approach social media when it comes to the information gathering face of your ORM efforts. Searching individual social mediate sites may yield exciting results, including customer photos, comments, and user-generated content. Make sure you understand explicitly what is being said.
2. Get Rid of Accounts You Don’t Use or Hinder Your Brand Perception
After conducting an initial search regarding you, your representatives, and your company, it’s time to start shutting it down. Not all of it, of course. You don’t want to erase all trace of your business online. Instead, begin actively closing accounts that do not help you market your product online.
Even unused empty accounts can be problematic in that consumers may find them confusing. Overall, you will just want to bring your old content back to life if it’s worth it or kill it for good if its negative impact cannot be salvaged.
3: Use Automated Alerts to Your Advantage
Are you aware that you can set up alerts through search engines when your company’s name is mentioned somewhere on the IoT? Be the first to know about the conversation regarding your brand by setting up custom notifications that alert you to your brand being mentioned in the news, on a blog, or via social media.
The most widely used alert service is Google. However (see above), you don’t want to favor one search engine over another. Yes, there are still a good number of people who use the alternatives, so don’t be too shy. Make sure you manage your reputation there as well by creating custom alerts.
4. Be Sweet When Responding to Negative Reviews Online
Few things hurt worse than something trashing the excellent name of you and your company online. This assertion is even more true when it comes to a customer who acted in bad faith when working with you. How can someone with a bad attitude get away with trashing a company that tried so hard to make things right?
Calm down. Relax. Start Breathing.
Negative commentary is part and parcel of doing business, whether you actively sell online or not. Someone out there is going to use their soapbox moment to drag you down for whatever reason you gave them to hate you. It’s nothing personal. It’s just business, really.
You don’t have to accept it, nor do you have to ignore it.
The most crucial concept to keep in mind is that you respond with class, integrity, and courtesy, no matter how you feel about the person making a comment. Yes, even bite your tongue if a competitor attempts to sabotage your enviable sales numbers. When responding to negative comments online, make sure you are always looking for ways to turn it into a positive conversation.
5. Keep that Personal and Professional Life Separate
For some business owners, it’s impossible to separate who they are online and who they are IRL. Consultants, thought leaders, and freelancers rely on their personal reputation to elevate their professional status and vice versa. Therefore, anonymity is not a luxury that some business owners have.
In the same token, they probably don’t think it’s something even to consider.
Unfortunately, we all have people who, for whatever reason, have a personal vendetta against us. You don’t want someone else’s personal drama to affect the perception of your brand. Instead of tying your personal profiles into your website, always have professional versions of your social media accounts.
Pro tip: Keep potentially lascivious or incriminating photographs, contents, and posts private. Even pro-ier tip: make sure your online messages appeal to a general audience.
6. Make Sure that Your Content Jumps to the Forefront of the Conversation
Content is king when it comes to ORM, but do you really know why? Well, as it turns out, search engines and social media sites love fresh, relevant content that relates to your brand and company. Really!
That means whoever is creating content wherever can directly influence the conversation about your brand online. We don’t know about you, but it’s essential to be ahead of that conversation. You can accomplish this by regularly creating content and posting it to your website, through press releases, and social media.
Instead of someone else’s opinion, positive or otherwise, you take back control when it comes to directing the conversation. Make sure you have a plan to create blog posts, social posts, graphics, white papers, studies, and videos to rank higher than someone else who doesn’t have your company’s best interest at heart.
7. Turn Your Most Bitter Naysayers into Your Biggest Fans
It’s almost effortless to get caught up in the negativity of online commentary. Perhaps it’s a crowd of people, or maybe it’s just one person. No matter what is happening, it should be your mission to turn your most prominent critics into your biggest fans. Well, there are always limits to any endeavor.
However, if the group or individual that regularly trashes your name online is allowed to do so without any type of monitoring or response, it’s going to keep happening. But you don’t have to turn thing into an online war with someone who clearly has a vendetta against you, your company, and everything for which you stand.
Again, you can’t take it personal.
When people get mad at brands online, it’s usually because they are upset about something else. Perhaps, they are cranky from the flat tire that made them late to work, or maybe they feel like you duped them out of their hard-earned money. Either way, it’s your job to find out what you did or didn’t do, and try to make things right.
While you don’t want to set the expectation that you will give the farm away to please someone, make sure you try to satisfy the dissatisfied while treating them consistently with respect as you carry out a very public conversation among past, current, and future customers.
Final Thoughts and Considerations Regarding Online Reputation Management
As you can see, your active online reputation management is a critical component of any good marketing plan. If you aren’t running the conversation about your business online, someone else is going to ruin it for you, and they may not have some nice things to say.
Take back your power by actively engaging in search engine optimization and public relations. Over the long-run horizon, you will see that investing in this area of your business is going to pay for itself in spades.