What is ORM?
(ORM) Online reputation management is the process of removing negative mentions, monitoring brands image and creating a positive reputation.
There are a lot of misconceptions about online reputation management. Some people think it’s just social media monitoring, while others believe it has something to do with public relations, and still others literally have no idea how it can impact business and sales.
In this guide, I’m going to explain the role of online reputation management in today’s business and media landscape. Companies of every size can benefit from having a clear outline of its main concepts.
What are people saying about you? Good online reputation management is not only about reacting well to what people say about you, your brand, or your products and services, but also about whether to react at all and, if so, when. Sometimes a reaction is not necessary, and sometimes a reaction that is too late can cost you millions.
A proactive approach to the matter consists of monitoring your public reputation on a regular basis, and not just when you come to know about a specific event to deal with.
How do you do this? The magic tools invented to solve this problem fall under the name of “social media monitoring.”
How to deal with negative comments online
In the online reputation management scenario, there are two types of negative content that companies should be aware of. One is represented by complaints on social networks. They need to be addressed properly, but unless your company has serious problems, they do not pose a real challenge to your business.
The other is what I define as “online reputation bombs,” which affect your reputation and sales long term and can severely damage a business. They are very powerful because, unlike social network content, they are prominent in search engine results. What if someone google your brand name and finds defamatory content?
Let’s see what they are:
- Aggressive SEO: If someone googles your name, appearing on page 1 and 2 of the search results will be much more important than your business card or website. They will show at a glance several high ranking web sources talking about you. If they display false information, the first thing that you or your online reputation management company should do is devise a search marketing strategy that increases the ranking of positive content, owned by either you or third parties. The search engine game is too important to be ignored, and it is the first step in restoring your image.
- Review removal: Did that user claim something false about your company? Is that review clearly aimed at destroying your reputation rather than providing feedback?
Does it contain improper language? Legal liaison and speed of reaction will make it possible to remove the negative review.
- Online investigations: In case of serious attacks to your brand image, it may be necessary to hire skilled online analysts to investigate untraceable threats and attackers via email tracing, data cross-indexing, and other information collection techniques. Cyber investigations are the definitive path to get to the bottom of difficult reputation management cases.
10 Online Reputation Management Commandments
Calling it “online reputation” really is redundant. Your online reputation simply is your reputation. In the digital era, nothing is protecting you from criticism anymore. This is good from a freedom of speech perspective; bad if your company has been defamed and attacked.
To conclude, ten practical tips that sum up what we have covered in this guide. The world of brand reputation will change in the coming years, but following these simple “commandments” definitely will benefit you and your brand:
Become well respected
According to several business experts, trust is a perishable asset and it is hard to gain. Making people respect you and your work is more important than any other online reputation management commandment
Be radically transparent
After years of hiding critics, Mc Donald’s publicly forced egg suppliers to raise hens’ living standards according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals request.
Monitor what they are saying about you
Apart from the aforementioned reasons to monitor your online reputation, social media monitoring also can bring business! These days, lots of people ask questions via Twitter and Facebook because they are evaluating whether or not they should buy from you.
React quickly and politely
In case of a customer complaint via Twitter, for example, a prompt and simple “We are aware of the problem. We are working on it and will get back to you as soon as possible.” is better than a late reply with more information.
In 2009, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s WSJ op-ed on Obama healthcare reform caused a controversy among WF customers. Two days later, the company provided a response statement recognizing there were “many opinions on this issue, including inside our own company” and invited people to share their opinion on the matter.
Treat your Google page 1 as your business card
First impressions count, and we do judge many books by their cover. If the words “scam” and “rip off” are associated with your brand, then that is something you should worry about.
Understand your detractors
Criticism can be the chance to learn more about your audience and craft a better message in the future. Motrin’s controversial “baby wearing moms” commercial sparked a lot of criticism. It did not come from competitors or illegitimate attackers, but from people in Motrin’s target audience who felt offended by their promotional content.
Attack your illegitimate attackers
Sometimes we simply have to fight illegal behavior. In 2009, Domino’s Pizza employees who posted disgusting videos of themselves playing with food were fired and arrested. Another example is people who post false information on the internet. Sometimes, if you don’t sue them, they might do it again.
Learn from your mistakes
Sony certainly learned a reputation management lesson back in 2005. The company placed copy protection (XCD) on its CDs which created computer vulnerabilities that malware could exploit. Instead of being upfront about their mistake, Sony stonewalled criticism and lost millions in class-action lawsuits.
Ask for help if necessary
If your online reputation management efforts are not enough to protect or restore your brand image, you have the choice to request help from a professional.
15 ways to create positive brand image online
Own Your Own Website
Your first goal for creating a positive online image is having a website. Chances are, you already have one for your business like yourbusiness.com. Be sure to also protect your personal brand by having one for your own name, i.e. firstnamelastname.com. Websites with an exact business or person’s name in the domain generally rank first when someone searches for the name. If you have a website you control at #1 in search results, it will get the most amount of clicks and prevent most people from continuing to look through the rest of the search results.
Own Related Domains
If you want to take it to the next level, build up some other domains for your business or yourself. Hosting companies are notorious for having negative information pop up in search results from bad reviews to anti-their-company groups. GoDaddy tackled this by creating a crop of additional websites with their brand name in the domain.
Any business can do something similar by creating separate site for the following:
- Your blog such as yourbusiness.com or yourbusinessblog.com.
- Your customer support such as support.yourbusiness.com oryourbusinesssupport.com.
- Your store such as yourbusiness.com or yourbusinessstore.com.
- Your main products such as yourbusiness.com or yourproduct.com.
- Your apps such as yourbusiness.com or yourbusinessapps.com.
Start Multiple Blogs
Your main personal or company blog doesn’t have to be your only blog. Thanks to Google+ authorship and Google Direct Connect, you can tell Google a blog on any topic is related to you.
Here are two great examples. Danny Sullivan is well known for being the editor-in-chief for Search Engine Land. If you search for him, you’ll also find his personal blog named Daggle. It comes up in search results for his name simply because he put Danny Sullivan’s Personal Blog in the title of the homepage and connected it to his Google+ profile.
Be Active on Social Media
Notice that I didn’t say create a whole lot of random social profiles that you may never touch again. There’s little point to doing that when reputation management is concerned. Instead, you want to create several strong social profiles on prominent social networks and keep them active and up to date. You will also want to build a strong audience on these networks as well – you could almost consider your number of connections like the number of links to your profile – the more you have, the better they will rank. Some of the best social profiles to create and routinely maintain that will generally rank well in search results include the following.
- Google+ – Profiles for people, pages for business. Make sure you occasionally include your name or business name in a status update or two as well.
- Facebook – Profiles for people, pages for business.
- LinkedIn – Profiles for people, company pages for businesses.
- Biznik – People only.
- Pinterest – Make sure one of your pins includes your name or business name too!
- Myspace – Don’t laugh, it still ranks well in search.
Create Online “Business Cards”
Want to create an online business card of sorts? Several websites allow you to create a personalized page that displays a short bio about you plus links to your website, blog, and social networks. About.me is probably the most popular one.
Claim Your Local Profiles
If you have a local business, be sure to claim your local profiles and local directory listings, or create them if they don’t exist on sites like Yelp, Merchant Circle, Yahoo Local and similar sites. This is also good to help with your local search marketing campaign so local customers can find you easier online.
Write Guest Posts
When it comes to reputation management, you’re not looking to do one-off guest posting opportunities where your name will barely be in the by-line. You will want to write for sites that have author bio pages crafted for you or allow you to create custom profiles like SEOmoz. Basically, the bigger the website, the better the chances of your author page showing up in search results. While any site can be good, highly authoritative sites like TechCrunch, Mashable, Forbes, and Entrepreneur are great examples of ones to strive for.
If you or your business is asked to do interviews on blogs, videos, or podcasts, definitely say yes. Typically people will include your name and/or your business name in the title of the resulting content which will rank well in search.
Place a Lot of Images of Yourself Online
This is easily done when you’re creating social profiles and getting guest posts. Having lots of images of yourself online might sound like vanity, but it can trigger image search results for your name or business to pop up, further pushing down potential negative search results. Easy ways to do this is through profile photos on your social networks, author bio pages on your websites & blogs, avatars on forums, and so forth. The key is to always make sure that your photo’s filename isyourname.jpg or similar, not something non-descriptive like profilephoto.jpg.
If you’re embedding your photo on a website, be sure to use applicable image SEO optimization in the code like this:
<img src=”yourname.jpg” alt=”Your First Name Last Name” title=”Your First Name Last
Another great way to dominate search results is through video. YouTube is usually the most obvious to go for as they are owned by Google and therefore are likely to appear in search results. But don’t forget other popular video sites such as Vimeoas it also shows up often in search.
Some great ideas for video title formulas include:
- Your Name or Business Name on ____
- ____ by Your Name or Business Name
- Your Name or Business Name Interviews ____
- About Your Name or Business Name
Write Press Releases
Press releases still make a dent when it comes to getting your name or your business name out there. If you’re looking at a real-time reputation management crisis, try submitting your responses through social media and through press releases. Legit services might charge you a fee, but they are worth it when it comes to making sure your press release is optimized for search. Some good examples of press release services include PR.com, SBWire, and PRWeb.
Create an App or Podcast
Apple.com is a highly authoritative website, so it is no surprise that any apps or podcasts rank well in search results. As a matter of fact, your app or podcast is almost guaranteed to show up on the first page of search results for your name or your business so long as you include it either in the title or the description.
Get a CrunchBase Profile
If you are the owner of a technology company, you can submit yourself and submit your company to be included in the CrunchBase database. These entries tend to rank as high, and sometimes even higher than Wikipedia entries.
See if You Qualify for a Wikipedia Page
Wikipedia pages are tough to come by thanks to the rules. But if you qualify to have a Wikipedia page created about yourself or your business, it is generally a guaranteed page one search result. Learn more about Wikipedia pages for yourself and for your organization.
One thing to keep in mind about Wikipedia pages is that they are publicly editable. This means if there is major news about you or your business, it will likely end up on your Wikipedia page too.
Once you have a presence on the top social networks, local search directories (as applicable), and other sites, it will make it easier to respond to any negative press when it arises. Be sure to think before your speak / type and make your responses as professional as possible. You’re not just trying to defend yourself – you’re also trying to prove to people how awesome you really are.