Online Reputation Management: Why Every Business Needs It
A business can do every single thing correctly, but one poor news piece or seething review can crush your reputation if it shows up high in the search results.
Thanks to the increase of searches on the internet where consumers do their research about companies they are looking to do business with, there is a new story daily of a company losing customers due to their search results appearance. This guide will help define what reputation management is and how you can protect your brand.
It can be entirely out of the blue in some cases. It’s not only a direct impact but can linger, the longer the negative links are out there the more business is lost.
This is why we’re here to define online reputation management for those who aren’t familiar.
The best companies in the world can navigate through a crisis, minimize the chances of negative results having an impact on their business, and even help craft a reputation online that clients want.
Our Online Reputation Management (ORM) guide will give you the what, why, and how of online reputation management—including strategies you can use for your business.
Defining Online Reputation Management
Part of the puzzle is doing the right things as a professional to manage your public relations and ensure a reputation management campaign has the fundamentals needed to be successful.
After that, a company specializing in ORM can take it from there. Before jumping into all the solutions, it is essential to know the basics. This is a complete breakdown of the industry and how it works.
Having the right strategy in place, and knowing where to look for specific help, makes all the difference in the world. This is necessary to help fight against the power negative search results have.
What Does a Reputation Management Campaign Look Like vs. Crisis Communications?
A lot of companies offer online reputation management, but what exactly does that mean for the client? For most people, they are reaching out to a company to help them clean up their online presence which is severely impacting their bottom line.
Whether it is getting rid of a negative story or completely fabricated comments, an online reputation management company can focus on a quick response to save a company’s image before a negative story goes viral and prevents a reactive solution to repair the damage.
If this sounds a lot like Public Relations (PR), there’s a good reason. There are a lot of similarities between the two campaigns. The end goal for both is to make a company look as good as possible to the customers. Getting those results is what makes them different.
Online reputation management is all about being reactive to false stories, negativity, and more. A company’s reputation can take a damaging hit in a matter of seconds with the speed of the internet these days, and having a company that is ready to respond right away can limit the damage.
Who Needs Online Reputation Management The Most?
Different than working with a public relations firm, they are more focused on being proactive and building up a brand. This includes focusing on advertising and promotion.
It is not out of the realm for some PR companies to offer online reputation management, and online reputation management companies offer general PR. People need to be aware of the differences when searching around for different companies.
You need online reputation management to plug the hole in the boat before it submerges the boat and sinks your brand.
ORM is also important for maintaining transparency—a vital ingredient of brand management in 2021.
Any business owner or professional reliant on their name should have some type of plan in place in case their brand name takes a hit. Bringing on help from someone with experience early in the process can help make the negativity fade away. Some businesses do not take a proactive approach, and it becomes worse and worse until they finally do make a fix.
With online reputation management, your business fights unfavorable claims by addressing them head on through social media.
7 Online Reputation Management Strategies You Can Use
Negativity is inevitable online, especially for businesses that are growing online and offline. There will be countless satisfied customers, but they are always less likely to leave detailed reviews.
Instead, those who have terrible experiences often rush to the internet because they have a voice to share their experience. They also hope to get some response from the company to make things right. That’s why it’s essential to have an online reputation management strategy to navigate you through these difficult problems.
1. Address Your Customers Individually and With Empathy.
Along with general crisis management, there are other specific reasons why businesses will invest in professional online reputation services. It can help with overall transparency, giving a more organic look to sometimes bland companies. This means doing little things like interacting through social media and addressing customers specifically instead of going through a traditional PR campaign that feels heavily scripted.
A Clutch data analytics found that you need to always monitor and benchmark your reputation score against competing products. It also means addressing the bad along with the good. Being open about negativity and providing clear answers to fix problems can end up being positive in the end when done correctly.
Let the public know you are invested in resolving any of their problems openly and publicly. Coffee company Starbucks did this when they answered a question on Twitter regarding disinformation:
Plenty of studies have shown that the vast majority of people expect responses when they voiced frustration through social media. If they do not receive a prompt response, it can snowball into something that ends up being more damaging for a business.
Not only does answering help solve a problem, but it shows potential customers and those with complaints of their own that they have nothing to worry about if something happens to them.
If you ignore your customers’ questions and don’t double-check your social media posts the internet can turn against you very fast.
That is what happened to the bakery Cinnabon.
Customers were angry about the tone death post, but Cinnabon initially ignored their customers. The frustrated customers then publicly posted about the tweet referencing the late Star Wars actress.
With careful online reputation management, Cinnabon could have avoided an angry mob—and a very negative piece of public scrutiny that lives online now forever.
Fortunately, it’s easy to prevent this kind of negative publicity.
Fast response times and ensuring you are vigilant of your customers’ culture and sensitivities is a great way to build a positive online reputation.
2. Answer Questions and Interact With Customers Online With Consistency.
A lot of businesses understand the importance of online reputation management, but they do not know where to start. Some pretty easy changes can go a long way towards building a better reputation overall. Strong brands outperform weaker brands by 20% and that number continues to grow as it was only 11% a decade ago.
So when customers complained about being charged a cancellation fee with Uber and started to leave negative comments and reviews, they learned to always respond and work with their riders. This led to an A.I. software that helped to automatically provide refunds to keep riders happy and leave positive reviews for the brand’s policies compared to Lyft.
With this proactive approach to refunding unsatisfied customers, Uber let their riders know their concerns had been heard and offered a remedy to help ensure their issues were resolved.
Not responding and helping your customers can also create a lot of negative press. Lyft, a ride share competitor to Uber, received numerous complaints about its ties to Carl Icahn and his relationship with President Donald Trump something the company never addressed publicly on its Facebook page.
Other issues such as addressing workers’ status in the state of California however we’re front and center on their Facebook page in an effort to ensure their reputation stays positive with California workers.
3. Answer Questions and Interact With Customers Online Each Day.
Whether it is a small business or one big enough to have a specific person monitor social media accounts, answering questions is a must in today’s world.
Provides a direct connection so many people rely on, and customers do not want to wait around too long for answers. By answering compliments and complaints in a timely fashion, it shows that customers are well-respected and worth the time to have any questions answered.
There is a particular art to answering questions that will appeal to customers as well. It is important to show concern and empathy if there is an obvious mistake. Cold responses that seem a little too corporate are going to be a turn-off to a lot of people. Having someone well-versed in responding can make a significant difference on social media.
Dallas Cowboys player Ezekial Elliott did the opposite after a Las Vegas incident where he posted a mockery of an apology.
This reportedly made team owner Jerry Jones furious and led to a 6 game suspension back in 2017.
Unlike the Dallas Cowboys, Dove delivered an ad campaign that only hurt their reputation further. It started when the soap brand received tons of negative feedback about its 2017 commercial.
In the ad, multiple Women are changing clothes and morphing into different people. A few consumers on social media were enraged, particularly since they felt that the soap was showing the ability to change to a lighter skin tone and consumers were said to have missed the point of their ad.
Dove’s apology was important to know that frustrating comments on social media are left by people who are potentially not in the greatest of moods. By diffusing the situation and offering up some solution from the very beginning, it can turn a negative into a positive.
Though they did remove the ad from Facebook, their response left customers dissatisfied as they said it was an overreaction according to the Youtube comments. Dove’s ratings have yet to fully recover among millennial consumers 3 years later.
Everyone screws up at some point or another—even corporations. Being cognizant of your errors and working to prevent them from happening again will help your brand win over consumers in the long run.
4. Own Your Brands Placement Online.
A business would love to have a brand that is 100% flawless. Unfortunately, even the most well-known and respected companies in the world will have to deal with negativity at some point.
Being upright with negativity and owning problems is the quickest way to help manage your brand on the internet.
Preferably, you want your brand’s company page to show up at the top of the search results or SERPS as it’s called in the digital marketing industry. Google has come out and said that 100% of click through data does not affect rankings but is for personalized search results.
By utilizing searches from a browser with no history or cookie tracking you can monitor your company’s search results. Your competition can purchase advertisements with your companies name to make their information show up first, so the solution is only that you can file a copyright claim through a lawyer or bid on your brand’s search terms to outrank your competition.
For example, when you Google H & M, they have fully branded results at the top of the page. All of these results are positive and relevant for the brand.
Alternatively, when you Google Freshworks, they have paid ads from a direct competitor, Zendesk.
A future Freshworks customer may start their journey looking for their brand but, may change directions to Zendesk as it’s the first paid result when they do a search.
A combination of negative search results and owning your branded results on page 1 is of the utmost importance in securing your brand online.
5. Do Not Hide From Negativity.
The first thing to remember is that discounting negative comments is a quick way to make things worse. It is one thing to ignore a comment that is very short and negative, but anything thought out needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.
No company wants to be known as one that will not help out unsatisfied customers. Mistakes happen, and even if the complaint seems completely misguided, providing some answer is usually always better than nothing at all. One way to stay on top of your search results is by setting up a free Google Alert for your keywords.
The tool Mention will help respond to these alerts to keep your customers engaged and know that you’re working on a solution for them. When answering these questions and responding to reviews, show patience and have focus on finding a resolution. Too many businesses will offer a very canned response that is not much better than simply ignoring it. Customers want some type of action to see that everything is working towards being resolved.
Majestic helps with search sentiment and provides in depth ranking analytics for your brand and competitors. In depth website audits can help you excel well beyond your competition with a match and exceed approach.
There is also the tactic of showing customers that they are very appreciated for responding and reviewing, even if it is a negative review. Simply thanking them for sharing is a step in the right direction of an ORM campaign and can work wonders in making a customer feel a little better.
6. Own All of Your Mistakes.
It sometimes takes a bit of a back and forth, but try to answer questions as quickly and to the point as possible. The longer a discussion goes on, the more likely it is that the customer becomes frustrated again.
From minor mishaps to major scandals, companies are doing themselves a favor by apologizing. It shows customers that they are very remorseful for what happened, and they are working towards some level of improvement.
An apology is going to allow customers to understand that a company is owning their mistake, is willing to change, and is genuine overall. This is something that might fall under PR in some ways, but an online reputation can take a hit with any type of controversy.
The timing of an apology can be a little tricky for businesses to figure out. Salesforce has a tool called Social Studio that is well equipped to help you respond. It is important to be timely with a response, as waiting too long will make customers restless and wonder if a company actually cares. If it is a rushed response, it might not cover all the necessary points, and it can feel a little less genuine as well.
Any business that is around for a long enough time will need to apologize for something. How businesses handle those times can make or break a reputation. Showing remorse, specifically to customers, will come off watch more genuinely.
7. Utilize Online Reputation Management Tools Out There.
There are a lot of useful tools out there to help with online reputation management for any business. Whether it is installing some software or subscribing to specific alerts, it makes life easier for a lot of companies. Sprinklr, a New York City based company simplifies this over 23 different platforms. It can get very tedious trying to monitor rankings in search engines and paying attention to social media all the time, so automation saves plenty of time.
Finally, true search engine optimization is best handled by professionals, but some tools can help with the basics. Being able to analyze positions and trends can help monitor a current campaign, or allow people to understand what they need to work on when hiring a search engine optimization company specifically.
It is ambitious to try to take on everything that goes into online reputation management, but sometimes, professional assistance is necessary.
That is where a quality online reputation management company that does things the right way with white hat tactics can prove to be extremely valuable.
Suppressing bad links, reviews, and any news that is not ideal is possible with the right strategy. It takes time, money, and effort, but companies want more control over how they look online is possible. The best ORM companies set their clients up for the future by providing results meant to last. Settling for quick fixes might temporarily look great, but search engine algorithms are always changing.
Control a Company’s Image With Online Reputation Management
Having a great image online can make or break a brand. With the reliance on the internet for research increasing daily, online reputation management is crucial for businesses to retain their current customers and pick up new ones.
It is common for anyone who owns a business to worry about any negativity that hits the internet initially. It can be very overwhelming, especially if it happens to be information that is not entirely accurate. Controlling the message with easy to implement strategies helps to a certain degree, and a reliable plan of action from an experienced ORM consultant can step in and take it to the next level.
Online Reputation management is how you influence and manipulate how researchers think of a company or individual online. With different ORM strategies, you can maintain and protect that perception.