online reputation management

Online Reputation Management: What It Is and How to Use It Effectively

A brand is only as good as its products, services, and reputation. While you have direct control over what you create and offer to your customers, you have less control over your reputation, especially in the online sphere.

In fact, many companies struggle with an often ignored aspect of marketing and brand identity: online reputation management or ORM. So today, let’s explore online reputation management and how you can leverage it to boost your brand to new heights of success.

Your Online Reputation and Its Effects

Your online reputation is more than an optional aspect of your brand identity. It can impact:

  • Your profitability
  • How quickly your brand awareness grows
  • What people think of your brand
  • How many people decide to visit your store
  • Whether you can forge long-term relationships with your target consumers

Your online reputation is what people think about your brand based on what they hear and read or how they interpret it. The more positive your online reputation is, the more trustworthy people will find your organization and the more authority you’ll have in your industry.

But your reputation is far from being easy to control. It’s actually the opposite. The sheer breadth of content across the internet means that your online reputation is often outside your control unless you have a dedicated online reputation management team working with other strategic and communication personnel to handle it.

Even though it takes a lot of effort and time, online reputation management is vital if you want your brand to thrive in the ever-evolving, dynamic business marketplace.

What is Online Reputation Management?

Online reputation management involves controlling relations on digital platforms.
Online reputation management involves controlling relations on digital platforms.

At its core, online reputation management controls content, ads, relations campaigns, and more to proactively improve your online reputation.

Here’s the truth: your online reputation will change regardless of whether you do anything to impact it. For example, someone who has a very positive or negative experience using your products may post a review without seeking a solution with you beforehand.

If left unchecked, your online reputation could spiral out of control. The disgruntled might outnumber positive voices that support your organization. Without enough positive feedback on your website, new customers may turn away from your brand before trying it themselves.

Since your online reputation will evolve over time, it makes sense to practice ORM. Through ORM, you’ll be able to:

  • Control many aspects of your online reputation
  • Proactively improve your reputation through positive feedback
  • Remove potentially problematic content that could lead to a public relations crisis

In many ways, ORM is similar to public relations but is more proactive and focused on long-term effects.

The Long-Term Impact of ORM

ORM aims to improve your reputation by making your brand more accessible, authoritative, and highly regarded over subsequent months and years. In contrast, online reputation management does not focus on:

  • Immediately fixing PR crises
  • Contacting marketing teams to put out new ads

ORM relies on strategic analyses, an in-depth understanding of what makes your brand appealing, and how you can best leverage its unique attributes.

ORM Strategies and Tactics

Fortunately, you can leverage many effective ORM strategies and tactics to ensure your brand’s reputation is as healthy as possible. Let’s break down several of the most important online reputation management tactics.

Online Review Management

web reviews management
Studies show that customers are likely to respond to online reviews with a lot more honesty.

The digital marketplace has shown that people respond to reviews or customer feedback on Google, Facebook, and many other places. In fact, there’s evidence that some shoppers won’t try a product if they find a negative review about it beforehand.

While you can’t stop people from posting negative reviews, you can strategically “manage” them. Online review management involves monitoring, responding to, and analyzing feedback across key sites like Google Reviews and Yelp.

So, if you can’t remove negative reviews outright, what can you do?

  • You can respond to online reviews as diplomatically and politely as possible. An onlooker might develop a positive impression of your brand after reading your measured response to a negative review.
  • Ask customers for reviews, but know you can’t ask for positive ones. Instead, encourage customers to leave a review if they are satisfied with your business or performance.
  • Use your brand’s positive reviews as testimonials. These can be posted on your website or even in your physical storefront. People respond well to a five-star rating, so letting potential customers know how pleased current clients are with your brand could help tip their opinion in your favor.

Ultimately, practicing online review management is essential because online reviews aren’t going away. On the contrary, they will only become more prevalent as digital marketing evolves!

Consolidation/Cross-Checking of Business Information

Focus on improving your authority on search engines.
Focus on improving your authority on search engines.

One crucial way to increase your business’s “authority” with Google (and therefore increase your rankings with Google’s search engine algorithms) is to consolidate all your business information and check it for accuracy.

Your business has several essential pieces of information that the public can use to identify it, contact you, or visit your storefront. These include your business’s physical address, website, and phone number.

Unfortunately, these bits of information tend to get scattered or become mismatched with time, especially if you change store locations or phone numbers. Make sure your Google Business page is updated and accurate, then copy that information and post it on every other public site you can find.

Websites like Yelp and Google Reviews may have records of your business and its key information. Make sure this information is accurate. Overall, this ORM action point requires minimal effort but can significantly increase your brand’s legitimacy and trustworthiness.

Content Removal and Creation

Of course, no company’s online presence can thrive unless it regularly creates high-quality content.

  • Authoritative blog posts or other articles provide excellent information for your target users. They will increase your brand authority and improve the odds of Google elevating your brand to the first results page when your target keywords are searched.
  • Tutorials, especially if your industry is relatively complex or focuses on niche topics, can help your customers use your products, explore your industry, and trust you as an expert.

Other content your management strategy can create includes:

  • User-generated content, like testimonial videos and reviews, unboxing videos on YouTube or similar social platforms, and more
  • Guest blog posts from industry experts
  • Employee and customer stories, distributed in a weekly or monthly newsletter
  • Ads (more on those below)

By facilitating positive content, you influence the conversation about your brand without directly telling people what to think.

The flip side of content creation is content removal. From time to time, your ORM staff may need to remove content that is or could become problematic.

Suppose you posted a blog post with incorrect terminology during your brand’s start-up. Good online reputation management involves checking old content, seeing what still fits, and removing what doesn’t.

Remove anything unaligned with your brand’s topic, theme, or character to make your company’s messaging consistent.

Removing potentially problematic content will prevent future crises from cropping up. For example, your ORM team may need to remove an off-message blog post that the public hasn’t noticed to avoid future hassle.

Say that you recently had to fire an employee who said some off-color things in a post. Deleting that content after firing the employee will do a lot to restore your brand’s image and give you control over the conversation.

As you can see, ORM involves making and removing content as necessary.

Content Management

Beyond adding or removing content, good online reputation management also involves current content management, which is:

  • Updating solid content with new terminology, products, and so on
  • Rewriting blog posts or tutorials to fit new products and services
  • Ensuring your brand’s content is relevant and interesting to potential and current customers

You often don’t have to write a new blog post about all your products when you release something fresh. Instead, you can add a little content to the guide you’ve already published on your website, keeping all the search engine optimization (SEO) that made the content sparkle in the first place.

Advertisements (to a Limited Extend) and Paid Media

As mentioned above, a big part of online reputation management also involves advertisements, though it’s essential to know that ORM is not the same as direct marketing.

Instead, ORM in advertising is more focused on the following:

  • The content of the advertisements (e.g., what they say about your brand and if there is any problematic language)
  • How they make your brand appear to a layperson or a longtime customer
  • Whether the ads further the ORM goal or focus

Say you want your brand to be a hit, a fun place to shop for young people with tons of energy. Your marketing team might draw up a plan for a new video advertisement for YouTube and Facebook.

However, your ORM team may think it lacks energy and won’t promote your company as a positive, diverse organization and suggest alternative options. This is one way your ORM team can guide the marketing staff to ensure that your brand’s ads are a good fit.

Similarly, ORM often involves reviewing advertisements to ensure they don’t include anything that could harm the brand or its reputation. With guidance, a brand can avoid making mistakes and producing an off-color ad.

For instance, the popular moisturizer and skincare company Nivea made an ad with the tagline, “White is Purity.” It’s easy to see how this message could be interpreted as racist. Nivea was rightly criticized in the media and probably lost customers and income because of the negative press the ad caused. Regardless of Nivea’s intention, the ad harmed its reputation.

Your online reputation management efforts must ensure you don’t make a similar mistake. Remember the golden rule of reputation: it takes years to build a positive reputation, but only one mistake to ruin it. This maxim is doubly true regarding online advertising.

Search Engine Optimization

Your SEO strategies should also focus on building a good reputation on the SERPs.
Your SEO strategies should also focus on building a good reputation on the SERPs.

SEO is another significant part of online reputation management. But how?

SEO impacts to what degree Google sees you as an authority in your industry or niche. The more authoritative you are, and the more Google associates you with your industry, the better your reputation will be.

Furthermore, improving on-site or on-page SEO will help your site rank better with target keywords. So more people looking for your services will find your site before your competitors.

First impressions are critical. Say that you offer bespoke apparel to people in the Millennial generation. If your website is the first one brought up when someone types in keywords like “bespoke jackets,” then they will associate your brand with the entire industry, especially if they purchase from your site.

Good SEO is excellent unconscious reputation management, and it does wonders for your brand and your bottom line. Perhaps more importantly, good SEO will help your site seem more prevalent across your industry. It’s hard for a target customer not to take your company seriously if they always associate it with your products or services!

Media Relations

Also vital are media relations efforts. Media relations can be anything, including those with:

  • Online or TV news networks
  • Blogs (especially  industry-related or news)
  • Influencers
  • Investors

Your ORM staff should focus on improving media relations as much as possible. These connections will be helpful in the event you ever need to coordinate with them to stop rumors or negative attention or if you want to put out a positive press release.

Furthermore, focusing on media relations will allow you to benefit from paid media advertising and reputation management. These can include Facebook sponsor posts, sponsored tweets, and so on.

These aren’t advertisements but help put your brand out there and boost awareness. For example, consider the potential benefits of forming a good relationship with a major internet news network that focuses on your industry. You’ll be able to rely on it for any reputation management you may need in the future.

Partnerships and Initiatives

No successful brand goes it alone. Online reputation management involves forming partnerships and starting initiatives to increase brand positivity.

For example, to improve your brand’s reputation, you could start an eco-friendly or green initiative by:

  • Announcing that you are transitioning to more eco-friendly devices or appliances
  • Offering new eco-friendly products to your customers
  • Offering to donate a percentage or portion of your profits to eco-friendly charities or organizations, especially as a limited-time offer

Eco-friendliness is an excellent quality for your company to cultivate because it’s popular and relevant to modern concerns.

By showing that your brand is involved in community concerns, you’ll improve its reputation and give your longtime customers a reason to believe in your organization and recommend it to friends and family.

Partner with other brands or organizations in your field or adjacent industries. Many companies collaborate with others to share customers and boost their reputations. No one likes to see a company that can’t play nice with others.

Social Media and Influencers

Lastly, online reputation management is increasingly focused on forming relationships with influencers and those on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

The right influencer in the right place can quell a harmful rumor, make your brand more popular, and even net new customers by recommending one of your products to their followers.

If enough popular influencers work with your brand and recommend it to their followers, your reputation will skyrocket in the best possible way. Therefore, online reputation management should involve seeking out influencers and forming deals.

Broader social media marketing and management are also important. Social media allows companies to enjoy an unprecedented level of interaction with their core consumers. Don’t let this opportunity go to waste.

In fact, you should have a social media manager in your organization whose sole job is to regularly post content and interact with your customer base or anyone with questions. Social media management makes your brand personable and accessible.

Need Help With Online Reputation Management? Contact Sigmategy

Online reputation management is a cornerstone of digital marketing and brand identity. It’s incredibly complex, and there are dozens of ways to manage your brand’s reputation across the internet and in the real world! It’s a big responsibility.

Many brands may not have the human resources or experience necessary to manage their reputations to the best extent. That’s how agencies like Sigmategy can help.

Sigmategy is well-equipped and ready to help your brand with its online reputation management by:

  • Providing feedback and insights to your executives regarding reputation management strategies
  • Offering consulting to solve reputation problems
  • Helping you find staff to manage your reputation over the long term
  • And more

Contact Sigmategy today, and we’ll help you effectively manage your brand’s online reputation. Let’s get started!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *