Reputation management plays a critical role in organizations of all sizes, from freelancers all the way up the economic food chain to multi-national corporations. Modern consumers rely heavily on search engines, and negative results appearing in searches for your brand profoundly influence their purchasing decision. The manner in which you react to those negative search results defines how you manage your online reputation.
Online Reputation Management Defined
Reputation management used to be the domain of public relations firms, back in the pre-internet days. However, the advancement of social media and the internet have changed the focus of reputation management mostly toward dealing with search results. There are controversial elements of this activity, such as using SEO to manipulate search results, and censoring negative reviews. Yet there are numerous ethical tactics available, including online monitoring of your brand, requesting removal of inaccurate information from other sites and addressing customer complaints before they become detrimental to your business.
Online reputation management can either be done in-house or outsourced to a third-party, depending on the scope of work required. In any case, companies of all sizes can benefit from taking an active interest in their online reputation. Simple acts like responding quickly to customer complaints and addressing those concerns offline are incredibly effective. They create a better level of customer service and enable you to direct the conversation.
Why Online Reputation Management Is A Necessity
Word travels fast on the internet and you have limited control. Social media has given every consumer a powerful voice that they never had before. And unfortunately, the majority of people believe what they read online. This is so serious that in September 2013, New York State started cracking down on fake online reviews.
The internet has an amplification effect in which even the most trivial of issues can suddenly take on Biblical proportions. While every business wants to become an overnight sensation, few would like to see a negative review go viral.
How To Start Managing Your Online Reputation
Engage your customer and solicit feedback, either in-store or online. Respond quickly to complaints and attempt to resolve issues offline in a private setting. Monitor the online conversation about your brand using either paid or free tools. Make a point of promoting positive stories surrounding your brand. Either create your own content or share that of other people.
For example, if you support a local charity, make sure you mention this online through social media and your company blog. If someone mentions online that they saw your firm at a local charity event, share that mention on all social media platforms in which you participate.
In the end…
People will talk about your brand online. The choice is whether or not you want to listen. It’s only by listening that you can hope to influence the direction of that conversation.