In the previous post “Part 1: How to protect your brand online“, I explained the importance of having a good reputation on the web.  In today’s digital lifestyle, not only is it important to have a good business reputation online, but to also have a good personal reputation as most people want to see the face behind the business.

This is where Online Reputation Management (ORM) comes into place. Before the big boom of the internet, most companies could count on the simple fact that news traveled slowly, and they had plenty of time to create and develop a plan to any potential problems.  In today’s online lifestyle and the growth of consumer generated content, any member of the public can quickly post their opinions and concerns to their network.

People trust opinions from other people and this means that bad reviews and comments can destroy your personal and business reputation. If you think that this is the only problem with managing your reputation online, think again. Your competition, former employees, and basically anyone can attack your company and yourself by posting negative information on the web for others to read and comment on.

Sometimes the comments can be untruths or gossip, but it can still damage your reputation. For large organizations, these negative comments and feedback can end up in the hands of traditional media (radio, news papers, television) and can create a PR catastrophe.

The importance of online reputation management

When people go online to find out more information about your services or products, you want them to see only positive reviews and a solid ranking on the search engines. Search for your company name or any services and products that you offer. Hopefully, you are listed in the top search results. Also, look at the other results on the search pages for your company or services. What are the other results telling your potential customers?

Other people doing a similar search will exactly see the same results. Have a look at what stands out about your company when you are looking at the search results. Is the information up to date, true and positive? What are others saying about your company on blogs  and forums related to your industry?

People from all over the world are using the internet to search and research for answers to their questions and to help them with their purchasing decisions. When a potential customer do a search for anything your company relates to online and all that they find is negative comments, will they do business with you? I think not. Negative comments online can affect sales, employee recruitment, investor relations and your credibility. In simpler terms, negative information about your company can damage your brand.

Process of online reputation management

The process of Online Reputation Management combines PR, traditional marketing, SEM (Search Engine Marketing), Social Media Marketing and various digital marketing strategies to improve the visibility of your company. Good search engine rankings for your company websites and any other Web 2.0 profiles such as your blog that contains positive information about you are the ultimate goal.

As more positive and up to date information about your company is added to various Web 2.0 channels and the search engine rankings, channels with negative information can be pushed further down the list, making them less visible to your customers.

It has been proven that most people using the search engines only look at the first or two pages when they do a search. Increasing the number of websites and channels that displays positive comments about your company can improve the chances that your customers will only see good information about your company. A good and positive online image will lead to a better brand reputation.

Responding to negative comments

Pushing down any negative comments on Web 2.0 channels and the search engine result pages is not how you should deal with negative comments and mentions about your company. Yes, there are methods as explained above to push down the negative comments on the search engines, responding to the negative comments is also important.

Always research the cause and effect of the negative comment or mention so that you can comment with the best positive response. Never insult the person who posted the negative comment. Rather, have a look at why they have posted the comment and try to turn the outcome into a positive one. Many times you can turn a negative foe into a brand advocate.

Having an Online Reputation Management strategy means that you are taking an active interest and part in your reputation online.  As new online trends and technologies are born every day, ORM is becoming a necessity for all businesses online.

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