Mastering Online Reputation Management for Your Business
In the digital age, a strong online reputation is integral to your business's success. Any business, regardless of its size, can be significantly impacted by what appears in search engine results, social media, review sites, and more. Hence, online reputation management (ORM) has become a key strategy in maintaining a positive online image, mitigating negative content, and promoting positive content. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to manage your business's online reputation effectively.
Understanding Online Reputation Management
Online reputation management is the practice of crafting strategies that influence the public perception of an organisation, individual or other entity on the Internet. It involves monitoring, identifying, and influencing your digital reputation and credibility. ORM can effectively prevent potential damage and allow for swift responses to reputation-damaging incidents.
Step-by-Step Guide to Online Reputation Management
1. Monitor Your Online Presence
ORM starts with monitoring. Using tools like Google Alerts, Mention, and Brand24, set up alerts for your brand name, branded products, key employees, and other relevant terms. Monitor what people are saying about you on social media, review sites, forums, blogs, and other online platforms.
2. Perform a Reputation Audit
Once you're monitoring your online presence, perform a reputation audit. Check what shows up when you Google your business. Look for negative reviews, articles, or feedback about your company. Determine whether the positive or negative sentiments dominate. Consider hiring an ORM service or SEO company to conduct an in-depth audit if needed.
3. Develop a Response Plan
Develop a clear plan for addressing negative content, which can include negative reviews, articles, or social media posts. Your plan should include:
- A template for response: Personalised responses are important, but having a basic template can ensure consistency.
- Guidelines for response time: The faster you can respond, the better.
- Criteria for when to escalate issues: Some issues may require input from higher levels of management or legal counsel.
Remember, responding with defensiveness or anger will likely harm your reputation further. Instead, respond with understanding and outline how you will address the issue.
4. Remove or Suppress Negative Content
If you encounter defamatory content, false information, or inappropriate personal information, you may have legal grounds to have it removed. You can start by contacting the owner of the website or the individual who posted the content and request for its removal. If that doesn't work, you can submit a legal request to Google to de-index the page. However, remember that Google only removes content in very specific situations, so it's always best to seek legal advice first.
To suppress negative content, improve your SEO strategies. By promoting positive content and improving the search rankings of your pages, you can push down negative results on SERPs.
5. Create and Promote Positive Content
Creating and promoting positive content is an effective way to manage your online reputation:
- Develop quality content: Regularly publish high-quality, useful content on your blog, guest blogs, and other platforms.
- Encourage positive reviews: Ask satisfied customers to leave reviews on platforms like Google My Business and Yelp.
- Get involved in the community: Sponsor local events, engage with local businesses, and share news about these engagements on social media.
6. Cultivate a Positive Social Media Presence
Establish a positive presence on social media platforms that are relevant to your business. Regularly engage with your followers, share valuable content, and handle any negative comments professionally.
7. Encourage Employee Advocacy
Employees can be some of your best advocates. Encourage them to share positive news about your company on their social media platforms.
While it's possible to mitigate negative content and promote the positive, remember that the best strategy is to consistently offer high-quality products or services and excellent customer service. After all, the most sustainable way to have a good online reputation is to earn it. Online reputation management is a long-term strategy, and with consistency, your business can enjoy the benefits of a robust and positive online reputation.