Everyone Has on Online Reputation – How Do You Manage Yours? Part I

In the most basic terms, your online reputation is how others see you when they look for you online. According to Dan Virgillito, a Content Strategist for Massive PR, online reputation is becoming so pervasive, it’s time to drop the word “online.” Your online reputation is simply your reputation. Online Reputation Management (ORM) is taking control of your online reputation by understanding when and how to react to what people are saying about you and your brand.  We’re in a digital era where nothing protects you from criticism. From a freedom of speech perspective, that is great. If your company has been attacked and maligned, it is anything but great. This is the first of a two-part series that will give you the tools and strategies that you need to manage your online reputation.

Phineas T. Barnum used to say “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”  That may be true for certain celebrities and controversial figures, but bad publicity typically has a negative impact on your brand. Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but some negative content is illegal if it contains defamatory language, reports false information, or damages a company’s reputation.

When this happens, you need to take defensive action. Depending on the range of the problem, there are several methods that you can pursue to restore your online reputation.

  • Aggressive SEO:  SEO is too important to be ignored. Appearing on page 1 of Google is far more important than your business card or website. If these searches display false information, it is vital that you or your online reputation management company develop a search marketing strategy that increases the ranking of positive content. This is the first step to restoring your positive image.
  • Review Removal:  Is the review false and clearly aimed at shattering your reputation? Does it contain improper language? If so, you need to react immediately.
  1. Respond to the review with factual information, providing viewers with your side of the story.
  2. Flag the review and attempt to have the review removed. Google with immediately remove reviews that are threatening or contain profanity.

Other reviews may be more difficult to remove, persistence is key.

  • Online Investigations:   Cyber investigations are the ultimate solution to these difficult cases. Serious online attacks to your brand image need to be investigated by skilled online analysts who have the resources to explore untraceable threats via email tracing. Reputation Management Consultants and Reputation Defender are two good sources for this type of exhaustive scrutiny.

Online reputation management is not only about managing content in search engines. It’s about managing negative reviews and encouraging happy, contented clients to add more positive feedback. According to BrightLocal, “85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.” What’s more, “49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business.”

Think about those statistics, and you’ll understand why your online professional reputation is a vital factor in your success.

There are four distinct digital marketing channels involved in ORM, frequently referred to as the PESO model.

1. Paid Media

Paid media includes all PPC advertising with Google AdWords, display ads on Facebook and sponsored posts on industry/influencer blogs. Paid media drives traffic to your web properties by building new relationships with customers and partners.

2. Earned Media

Earned media describes coverage for which you did not pay. To earn this exposure you need to stand out from your competition with creative, engaging content, products and services that users consider worth sharing, mentioning, reposting, and reviewing.

3. Social Media

Your social media policy should guide engagement that supports your reputation goals. Keep these key points in mind when creating your staff policy:

  1. Create a pre-approval process for content. Don’t permit employees to freely post whatever comes to mind, especially if it is associated with your business.
  2. Financial, legal, and private client information should never be shared with the public.
  3. Stay professional and polite.
  4. Reserve the right to delete or edit potentially harmful content.

4. Owned Properties

Your business websites and blogs are properties owned by you. Owning multiple properties increases your chance to build a dynamic digital presence. Keep in mind that you want to be careful in establishing properties that can be clearly distinguished from one another.    

Part 2 of this series will expand on the PESO model by showing you the best way to use these 4 digital marketing channels to build and manage a strong, positive online reputation for your business.