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A Beginner’s Guide to Online Reputation Management
Maintaining a good reputation is essential not only for individuals but also for brands. Businesses and organizations must understand the value of positive public perception, as it affects many business areas.
A brand’s reputation is crucial as it affects how audiences and industry peers perceive it. It can also directly impact the company’s profitability and overall performance.
Consumers are deeply aware of the significance of a brand’s online presence. A recent survey found 98 percent of consumers used the Internet to learn about businesses in 2022. What they discover online subsequently shapes their opinions and purchasing decisions.
For this reason, managing your brand’s online reputation is essential. Depending on your industry, business practices, and available resources, this task can be easy or difficult.
Keep reading to learn about online reputation management and how to apply it to your business.
What is online reputation management?
Online reputation management (ORM) covers practices that help manage and maintain an individual or organization’s reputation. Its purpose is to control the public perception of a particular brand online.
ORM can include monitoring brand mentions, review management, responding to negative feedback, and gaining positive reviews to maintain a good brand image. Maintaining this positive image is essential, as it can affect your industry authority, customer trust, and profitability, among other performance indicators.
These practices offer several advantages to brands that decide to adopt them. A good reputation establishes respect and authority from your peers, competitors, and audiences.
Companies should consistently stay abreast of the online conversations surrounding their brand. This way, they can quickly become aware of positive or negative content and respond accordingly.
Online Reputation Management Media Channels
The Internet hosts different types of media that brands and audiences can use to publish content. These media channels have different characteristics businesses can use to manage their online reputation.
Here are the four main media channels you can use when developing your ORM strategies.
Owned media refers to content and platforms your brand or business owns and controls. Examples of owned media include your brand’s website content, social media accounts, research papers, and webinars.
One of the best ways to leverage your owned media is by performing well on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Some ways to improve the performance of your owned media on search engines include the following:
- Using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques
- Creating valuable and engaging digital marketing content for your owned platforms
- Targeting industry or brand-related keywords
- Obtaining backlinks from reputable publishers
- Optimizing your website structure and content for search engines
Many people use search engines to find relevant brands and businesses that address their needs and interests. SEO can help your owned content reach more audiences, improve your reputation, and attract more people to your brand.
As the name suggests, paid media covers content you pay other entities to publish. The most common example of paid media is advertisements on various channels, online or offline.
Online reputation management of paid media will cover online advertisements, such as social media ads, sponsored posts, banner ads, and influencer sponsorships.
The biggest benefit of earned media is that you have significant control over your image while gaining exposure to bigger audiences. However, buying advertising slots can be expensive, especially from prominent advertisers with a significant audience reach.
Earned media covers content you did not create or control. Other individuals and publishers make and publish this content for you, whether positive or negative.
Examples of earned media include the following:
- Reviews on external platforms like Google Reviews and Yelp
- Social media posts
- Media coverage
- Forum posts
- Blog posts on other websites
- Directory entries
Earned media often presents a relatively objective and unbiased image compared to paid ads and owned media. Gaining positive earned media can significantly boost your reputation and build trust among audiences.
Earned media requires you to utilize other forms of media to gain enough attention and earn other people’s organic contributions. However, you can also contact media outlets and influencers to receive press coverage.
Shared media covers content shared on third-party platforms. Its most distinctive characteristic is engagement and interaction between multiple parties.
Common examples include social media posts, comments, and shared content, whether they come from your brand’s social media profiles or external sources.
Performing well on social media offers significant advantages to your online reputation. These posts often reach your target audience and influence their opinions and purchasing decisions.
Responding to social media comments and posts about your brand, whether positive or negative, can help you control your image on shared media channels.
Why Reputation Management Matters in Business
Reputation management takes a lot of time, effort, and resources for businesses. However, it remains a significant undertaking due to its advantages in protecting your reputation and promoting a positive image.
Here are some main reasons businesses should consider adopting an ORM strategy.
Impacts consumer decisions
People want to know they’re spending their money on quality products and services. For this reason, many consumers prefer to do online research or read reviews before buying a product or booking a service.
In 2021, around 70 percent of consumers read one to six customer reviews before committing to a purchase.
Building an excellent online reputation and collecting positive product and service reviews can help sway consumers’ decisions in your favour.
Helps manage negative reviews
Your brand can’t please everyone. No matter how hard you try, you will make mistakes or provide defective products or services. As a result, customers might get dissatisfied and leave bad reviews.
While you can’t make people remove negative comments, you can respond to them and offer prompt solutions. Customers can react positively to brands that exert effort in addressing issues and putting customers first.
Collects valuable feedback
ORM requires brands to monitor what customers and external parties say about their products and practices. While the content you find might not always be positive, every comment can give you valuable insights into what your brand might be doing right or wrong.
This practice helps you understand your customers better. As a result, you can make relevant changes to improve your products and services, which boosts your online reputation.
Controls the narrative
Neglecting to perform reputation management tasks could leave you unaware or unable to control the narrative surrounding your brand. In times of crisis, negative comments could take over public opinion and negatively affect your business.
ORM helps you keep up with the conversations surrounding your business and exercise more control over how people interact with and perceive you online.
Managing Your Brand’s Online Reputation
Managing your online reputation isn’t as easy as responding to online comments. You must be strategic, no matter the vastness of your brand’s reach. Every interaction you have or piece of media you publish could affect public perception differently.
If you’re new to ORM, the steps below can help you manage your online reputation. You can also adjust these strategies to suit your needs and resources better.
1. Perform a brand audit
It’s good to establish a baseline before changing how you present yourself or interact with customers. A brand audit can help you know what you’re currently working with and what you still need to do.
Perform online media monitoring and reputation monitoring to learn how audiences and other parties talk about your brand. This step will give you a better understanding of people’s perceptions of your business and identify challenges you may need to address.
Look for different types of conversations about your brand. Some platforms and content you may need to seek out include the following:
- Your company website
- Social media
- Review sites
- Google search
When Googling your brand, it’s best to do it on a fresh device or using incognito mode on your browser. Divide your findings into channels you can and cannot control.
After conducting your brand audit, you can get a more objective view of your brand’s appearance to the average customer.
2. Create an online reputation management strategy
The audit gives you a good overview of the current state of your brand’s reputation. With this knowledge, you can formulate your ORM strategy.
ORM involves a lot of tasks, such as responding to comments and reviews or addressing favourable or unfavourable press coverage. Ordering and prioritizing necessary tasks will help you organize your efforts and make sure you get all urgent items that need attention.
Let’s say your online reputation is pretty neutral, with a few negative reviews on various platforms. In this case, you’d only need to respond to these comments and appease the displeased customers.
However, you should postpone these smaller tasks and prioritize crisis management strategies if you’re facing a reputation crisis.
Once things quiet down, you can prioritize your ORM tasks into easier tasks with smaller impacts and more challenging yet significant undertakings.
Document your guidelines and workflows and assign monitoring and response tasks clearly. Proper delegation of tasks avoids confusion and ensures consistency and timeliness.
3. Develop a tone guide
Consistency is essential in ORM and every interaction you make with your audience. Creating a tone guide can help multi-person teams communicate with audiences and develop an online presence consistent with company values and branding.
Your tone guide can include response templates, communication guidelines, and the type of language you plan to use.
Depending on your audience, you may opt for more casual language or adopt more formal communication. No matter your choice, staying consistent and using precise language is vital to avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings.
4. Monitor brand mentions
You’ve likely researched your brand mentions during your brand audit. However, consistent media and brand monitoring are essential when adopting an ORM strategy.
To do this, you can create alerts for your brand name and other related keywords to see what people say about your brand. Google Alerts is one way to do this, though other reputation management software also offers brand monitoring features.
This step helps you stay up-to-date with changing conversations and trends surrounding your brand, competitors, and the overall industry. The information you get from monitoring your brand mentions can help you implement and improve your strategies.
5. Take appropriate action
Take the policies and guidelines you formulated during the strategizing step and apply them to your different platforms.
For example, if you notice a slew of negative reviews coming in for one of your product or service offerings, respond appropriately. Determine whether the error was a one-time thing or indicative of a larger operational problem. Reassure your customers and provide refunds or appropriate compensation.
Steps four and five are vital, and you must perform these steps repeatedly throughout your business’s lifetime.
6. Monitor your progress
Monitoring and analyzing different metrics will help determine whether your ORM strategies work. Schedule assessments and follow-ups over regular periods to ensure consistent data.
You can set key performance indicators (KPIs) before implementing your strategies and assess them regularly. Common KPIs for ORM can include the following:
- Sales and financial performance
- Net promoter score
- Customer lifetime value
- Brand/customer loyalty
- Social media reach and engagement
- Repeat purchase rate
- Sentiment analysis
Tips and Best Practices for Better Online Reputation Management
Companies can improve their ORM strategies in many ways. The best way to do so is through practice, which can teach you what approaches work best for your company. You can also apply the following tips when you’re just starting.
Invest in SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) practices can significantly improve your brand’s online reputation. Getting on the first page of search results helps establish your brand as a leader and attracts more people.
On-page and off-page SEO tactics help you target various keywords to reach your target audiences. A well-optimized website alongside reputable brand mentions helps you cover your bases on all relevant media channels.
Leverage public relations
Good public relations practices help generate positive press and conversations around your brand. Here are some ways you can use PR to create positive discussions:
- Press releases
- Interviews of company leaders
- Guest posts on trusted media outlets
- Branded and charity events
- Media appearances
- Public statements
Social media, review sites, and other interactive platforms have allowed consumers to communicate directly with brands to express their opinions and experiences. Take advantage of these platforms by responding to comments and reviews and engaging with your audience.
Promptly addressing negative comments in a positive manner can help minimize possible damage to your reputation. Engaging with your audience in general also helps build better relationships and establish trust with your audience.
Offer good customer service
Providing good customer service helps generate genuine positive feedback from customers. It will also improve the customer experience and overall satisfaction.
Focus on the customer’s concerns. While customer service interactions can be an excellent platform to upsell or cross-sell, make sure to prioritize providing concrete solutions to their issues. Maintain courtesy and genuine concern during these interactions.
Feedback is an essential element of your online reputation. Whether positive or negative, reviews help you read the temperature of how people perceive your brand.
Encourage your customers to leave feedback through incentives or reminders. Positive reviews can help boost your SEO rankings and influence others to support your brand.
Highlight positive content
Online reviews and user-generated content (UGC) are excellent sources of marketing material. If you find positive reviews and content through your brand monitoring efforts, consider highlighting them on your website or social media platforms.
Some sources of positive content include reviews, press mentions, UGC, endorsements, and influencer posts.
Reputation Management Tools
Reputation management involves a lot of tasks and processes. While teams can perform these tasks manually, they can be time-consuming.
Reputation management software tools help companies streamline their processes and become more efficient. Here are some ORM tools you can use and incorporate into your company strategy:
Google Alerts is an online tool that helps you set alerts for specific keywords like your brand, competitors, or industry terms. Each time these keywords get mentioned, you receive links to them in your inbox.
This app is an excellent tool for ORM, especially as you’re starting. It’s completely free and easy to use.
BrandMentions allows you to monitor social media channels, blogs, news sites, and review sites for mentions of your business or related keywords.
You can also use this app to keep track of your competitors, which allows you to gain insights into their strategies.
BrandMentions offers a free 7-day trial, and their paid plans start at $75 a month. You can also request customized pricing and services if your business needs them.
SearchEye offers bespoke content marketing and brand mention services to businesses that want to improve their online reputation. Their user-friendly platform allows brands to order brand mentions and custom content to help their ORM strategies come to fruition.
They have a free daily newsletter called 3PM Links, where you can receive brand mention opportunities directly to your inbox. You only need to pay for links once you get them.
They also offer Links Pro at $289/month, giving access to various types of content to strengthen your online reputation. If you want specific services, your company can also get custom pricing.
Responding publicly to reviews, whether positive or negative, can help your reputation management efforts. It helps show audiences how you handle certain situations.
Take Charge of Your Brand’s Online Reputation
Several factors will affect your brand’s online reputation, some of which are out of your control. However, a well-planned and executed ORM strategy can help you maximize the factors within your control.
SearchEye can help your brand build a positive online reputation through brand mentions and other content marketing strategies. Our team of journalists and consultants can help you generate positive media that attracts potential customers and helps you achieve company goals.
Create and maintain a positive company reputation through brand mentions and quality content. Contact SearchEye today.
FAQs on Online Reputation Management
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