Online Reputation Management is the practice of tracking, monitoring and, often, replacing bad online coverage with good coverage to positively affect Internet search results. Continuous vigilance over the kind of information that is being posted to the Internet from different sources and making constant efforts to highlight positive coverage while suppressing negative coverage will contribute to building a strong online brand reputation for any business.
With consumers increasingly going online to get information before making purchasing decisions, company websites, and online communities like social media sites, blogs, micro blogs and online review sites have become the new publicity management avenues for businesses today.
Sources that contribute to the online reputation of a business
- The business itself: Your website, company blogs and press releases all form part of a network of information that comes straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. Thus, creating an elegant, informative and easy to use website, coupled with solid blog posts and timed press releases, should be the first step for any business serious about online reputation management.
- Customers: Nowadays, people are much more likely to contribute to (and use) reviews of products and services posted on various online sources before making any decisions. Satisfied customers mean more positive coverage and vice versa. Customer satisfaction has always been a business priority, but it takes on a more serious tone when we factor in online reputation management. One negative review on a popular site can cause an avalanche of negative coverage simply because of the tremendous reach of the Internet. A great strategy is to respond to negative comments on the various sites, directly addressing the issue in a professional manner. This can go a long way in letting other consumers know that the business cares enough about what they do to take the time to respond to grievances, even on online forums.
- Employees (both current and past): Current employees are one of the best sources of information about the intimate workings of a business. So what they have to say, especially if they take it online, matters when thinking about online reputation management. A business has less control over the actions of past employees, but they are also a key source of information about the business. Thinking about legal ways to keep employees from posting critical or negative information should be part of the online reputation management strategy. For example, many businesses already limit any mention of company ties in employee blogging activities with steep consequences for flouting these rules.
For businesses that do not have the internal resources or the technical ability to continuously monitor their online brand, using an online reputation management service may be the best option. Firms specializing in managing the online presence of a business or brand offer the easiest way for a business to protect their online presence without spending any time or effort away from actually running the business.
Author: Celena Watson