What is “online reputation management” (or ORM)? It’s exactly as the name reads – it’s the art/science/process/etc. of managing your online reputation.
Since the advent of the Internet, there has been an ever-increasing demand for ORM services, especially in the present day with the prolific use of social media. One joke gone awry, one spur of the moment controversial opinion is usually all it takes to tarnish one’s reputation. Whatever is posted on the Internet, generally, stays on the Internet – forever.
So, let’s say you own a business, and for some reason a customer gets upset, but instead of letting you know he/she decides to write a scathing blog post about your business. Unfortunately for you, this blogger is fairly well known and respected within the industry. Thus the post crosses the screens of hundreds (or thousands) of people. Due to the post’s popularity, it begins to rank in Google for your business name. So now, whenever anyone does a search for your business in Google, one of the top results will be this negative blog post.
Why is this significant? In today’s digital/mobile age, everyone is connected to the Internet at all times. More people than ever are using the Internet to get information on everything from general trivia to reviews on businesses. In fact, in 2011, 77.86% of people in the United States (src: Wikipedia) have some kind of Internet subscription, and that number is increasing. So, chances are, people WILL see that negative blog post written about your business.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done regarding outsiders writing negative content on your business (or name). Remember, once someone posts something on the Internet, the content stays there forever. However, there are steps you can take to mitigate any negativity related to your business/name.
- First, set up web alerts. Set up Google Alerts for your business name and any other relevant terms that are related. Also, in today’s social world, it’s not a bad idea to set up alerts for social media as well through a website like socialmention.com. Now anytime your name pops up on the Internet, you will get an email in your inbox. From here, it is your responsibility to respond to any negative feedback, with positivity that’ll leave that person feeling content.
- Second, set up social media pages. Regardless of your opinion on social media, millions of people are on Facebook, Twitter, etc. every day. These pages can also serve as a hub for your customers so they can send complaints directly to you rather than through a blog or on a review site like Yelp. Be sure to stay active on these pages – people don’t appreciate their complaints/questions going unheard. I’m not going to lie; managing your social media will take a lot of time, but if you don’t have time, hire someone else to manage it. Not only are you able to have a direct, open line of communication with your customers, your social pages will rank in Google for your business name. Having a presence on social is too important to ignore, and is absolutely vital to managing your online reputation. The Internet is gearing towards social; so don’t get left by the wayside.
- Third, learn search engine optimization (SEO). Or hire someone to do your SEO. For the newbies, SEO is the “science” or “art” of influencing the major search engines (i.e., Google) to show results you want for certain search terms. Think of it as marketing without actually marketing. Remember that bad blog post about your business that keeps showing up in Google? SEO can get rid of that blog post by pushing positive content up and burying the negative content to the 3rd, 4th, or 5th, pages – a.k.a. the “Google void”.
Managing your online reputation is really just like managing your real-life reputation. You have to be wary of how you speak to/handle people who you had contact with. The Internet world works differently than the real world, but both tie into each other as more and more people around the planet join the online community.