In the digital world, it’s all about reputation, reputation, reputation
We’re now living in a time when communication is instant, no matter the distance and the world wide web means that there’s no place to hide. Reputation can no longer be controlled with press releases sent by PR teams. People WILL post about you online, and often without coming to you first to give you chance to resolve any issues. This means that businesses need to maintain an attractive image at all times and sweeping unpleasant issues under the carpet is a thing of the past.
Online Reputation Management (ORM) is an important issue for all organisations – with your competitors available to your customer base at the tap of a touch screen, creating (and maintaining) brand loyalty is essential if you want to compete on a level playing field.
So, what is ORM it all about and what do you need to do?
Your company’s online reputation is a valuable asset and it’s measured by how proactive you are in optimising your website content appropriately through organic search. Your online profile consists of:
- Content you have created (your website, blog, social media profiles, YouTube videos)
- Content about you created by others (business page listings, comments on blogs, social media networks, etc).
According to Google,
“Your online identity is determined not only by what you post, but also by what others post about you — whether a mention in a blog post, a photo tag or a reply to a public status update”
In fact, ORM has become such a vital issue that there’s a growing market for companies that help businesses and individuals to improve their online reputations. TechCrunch has reported earlier this year on the acquisition of Liverpool-based Reputation 24/7 by US based digital privacy company Reputation.com. Reputation.com describes ORM as “removing or burying any website, online newspaper article, blog, forum or review which does not represent our client as positively as they deserve”.
However, it’s not all cloak and dagger and dark digital derring do – one of the most useful favours you can do for your online reputation is to feature highly in Google organic search rankings – this means Page One results that are positive. You probably already know how to achieve appearances on Page One in search engines – it’s what SEO is all about. Negative search appearances are a whole different matter but dealing with them needn’t be a nightmare.
Push them Down the List
Deleting negative comments about your company or brand is a big NO NO – don’t be tempted to do it. You can push these results down the list by creating and adding more positive content about your company. You need to “own” the top slots on search engine results to balance the results with a Web presence that is spread over several platforms:
- Your company website
- Related blogs
- Social Media network profiles, such as Facebook Fan Pages, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube
This means monitoring all of the above and adding new content regularly – daily on the social media platforms and two or three times a week on blogs.
Turn Your Liabilities into Assets
If you’ve been adding enough regular new content, any negative search results will probably have dropped down the search rankings – but don’t just leave it at that. Finding negative comments should be seen as a great opportunity to engage directly with your target audience. Respond to the comments politely, acknowledging the problem and offering to make amends. For instance, if somebody has been complaining about one of your products, respond with a comment asking them to email you with full details and then formulate a plan to compensate them for their negative experience – a full refund, a replacement, money off vouchers, free products, etc. This blog explains how Petplan did just that.
Not only could this response mollify the complainant, it could actually win your company a dedicated brand advocate if the disgruntled party feels suitably compensated. Everybody who reads the negative comments will also read your response offering to do everything possible to make amends – this will have a positive effect on their attitudes towards you.
Don’t Forget the Real World
Don’t forget that you have an offline reputation as well – if you treat clients/customers well in the real world, they’re likely to leave good reviews for you online – all of which will feature in the search rankings as positive online content about your company.
Online Reputation Management is an ongoing job and I hope this blog post has been useful for you. If you’d like to find out more about improving your Web presence and managing your online reputation effectively, then please give me a call on 011 33 20 2121.
For more information about how our services can help your SEO and ORM, sign up to my blog to receive expert tips delivered direct to your inbox every Wednesday.
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