Word of mouth marketing is on the rise. 97 percent of people have agreed to read reviews for local businesses, out of which 90 percent believed that it influenced their buying decision. Positive online reviews build a constructive reputation for your brand, which encourages your current and potential customers to engage with you with more trust and confidence. 

However, online reputation management is not confined to online reviews. From what people talk about you on social media to what shows up when people search for your brand on Google, different elements co-exist to determine your overall online reputation. 

Here is a detailed guide to ORM, along with management strategies for monitoring, protecting, and repairing your online reputation. 

What is Online Reputation Management (ORM)?

Online Reputation Management (ORM) is defined as the process of formulating well-devised strategies to create or modulate the perception of an individual, brand, or organization on the internet. It involves garnering public opinion about a person or business and taking necessary steps to eliminate or mitigate negative opinions. 

A negative online reputation can hurt you, possibly more than you can imagine. Just one negative review or unfavorable video can have adverse effects on your personal image. By using ORM, you can alleviate the impact of such negative materials by counteracting them by using positive content. For example, if the first page of Google’s search results shows a negative article when the name of your brand is searched, you can balance it by generating large amounts of positive content about your brand. You can also create different forms of content, such as videos, website projects, and more. 

Social media management has emerged as a major element of online reputation management, and rightfully so because 95 percent of adults aged 18-34 follow a brand on social media. One negative talk about you or your brand can go viral in hours, which can significantly affect your reputation. 

Importance of Reputation Management

Thanks to the internet, people can now talk about your brand in various ways. They can review you from 1 to 5 ratings, comment on your blog posts, and share their opinion on social media. This also means that other people can access all of what is being talked about your brand, whether it is positive or negative. And with word of mouth reviews being one of the most critical buying factors for customers, bad ratings or comments can break your business. 

Therefore, the importance of reputation management is undeniable. Here’s why reputation management is vital for you and your business. 

1. Improved ranking on SERPs: Online reviews have a substantial effect on your SEO. For local businesses, search engine algorithms use online reviews as one of the indicators for ranking a business on SERPs. Therefore, improving your online reputation can result in an enhanced search engine visibility. 

2. Increased credibility: Online reviews are not limited to pleasing the search engine algorithm. It’s what people use to identify your brand. As discussed, most buyers refer to online reviews before making a decision. Therefore, positive online reviews can help you gain the trust of your customers, and once the trust is earned, the existing customers will recommend your business to others. Good online reputation management can help your business attract more positive reviews, thus, making you more credible than your competitors. 

3. Higher revenues: When customers trust you, they are more likely to do business with you, which will result in higher revenues. Moreover, companies that enjoy a positive reputation generate 5-7 percent higher revenues than their competitors. 

4. Professional image: A successful business image is a powerful self-marketing asset as you don’t need to put in a lot of time and effort to convince potential customers to take action. Potential customers who have heard of your brand for the first time will most likely search it on Google to get a better idea of who you are and what you offer. And if they are welcomed by negative feedback and reviews, they’ll not do business with you. Reputation management enables you to create a strong corporate image that sends the right message to your prospects. 

ORM Stages: Proactive and Reactive

Proactive and Reactive are two ORM approaches you can use to handle your online reputation. While brands need to have both a reactive and proactive plan in place to establish a strong online reputation, it’s essential to know where to get started. Here’s a quick comparison between proactive and reactive online reputation management. 

Proactive ORM

A proactive ORM campaign includes creating reputation management strategies beforehand and integrating them with your SEO and marketing campaigns instead of waiting for your online reputation to be ruined by an angry customer. Many PR specialists also use proactive ORM for promoting their initiatives and publishing content about recent community involvement or good charity. 

Proactive ORM closely resembles SEO strategies, as in a proactive campaign, you target certain keywords and publish positive content around them to ensure your target audience does not encounter negative results when they search for your brand. 

Another proactive ORM strategy is to streamline customer support. You can have dedicated customer support handles on social media to quickly solve the queries of your customers. With customer satisfaction being one of the key drivers for businesses, putting an extra effort to help your customers would go a long way in improving your online reputation. 

Reactive ORM

If you are in an industry with a higher risk of disappointing your customers, such as law firms, healthcare providers, or finance companies, you’ll need to have a reactive ORM strategy in place. Businesses with higher risk factors will need to launch a reactive ORM campaign at some point in time.  

Reactive ORM is needed when you already have negative content or reviews ranking on SERPs or being displayed across social media. This strategy takes time to produce results because unlike reactive ORM, where you try to protect your reputation, you need to fight against another website that is already ranking on top of SERPs. 

If you already have a proactive ORM campaign, transitioning to a reactive approach is easy, and reputation management becomes more effortless than if you start fresh with a reactive ORM strategy. 

Brands that used online reputation management the right way

The bigger your brand gets, the harder it is to focus and complete your daily tasks. For content marketing to competitor research to customer support emails, there’s so much to do to efficiently manage your online reputation. 

Here are examples of two leading global brands that used online reputation management the right way. 

Nike

Nike is an active brand. It constantly pushes out content, engages with company leaders, and promotes company news. With so much to do, losing track of customer complaints is easy. However, not focusing on customer complaints can have severe effects on the reputation of a brand. 

To overcome this hurdle, Nike started a “@TeamNike” handle on Twitter and Facebook dedicated solely to customer queries. 

JetBlue

One of the largest airlines in the U.S., JetBlue, is surely a brand renowned across the globe. Flights can get delayed due to various factors, some of which are not in control of the airline. But having a flight delayed or canceled can annoy the customers, and they will take out their frustration on review sites and social media. JetBlue identified this issue and reacted quickly to prioritize itself as a company that prioritizes customer service. 

Whenever a customer complaints about flight cancellation or delay, JetBlue communicates with the customer as quickly as possible to provide them with the necessary help. Thus, JetBlue managed to develop a positive online reputation in an industry facing issues from a reputational perspective. 

What is Personal ORM?

Reputation is everything. If you are a celebrity or famous personality, you need to constantly find ways to set a good mark on the internet. With everyone using the internet to know about a person, having a strong personal reputation can transform your career and personal life. But, who does not have haters? No matter how much good you do, there will be people talking against you somewhere or the other. 

Personal ORM allows you to take back control of your online image and portray yourself in a more presentable and positive manner. Whether you are applying for a college, appearing for a job interview, or going out on a date, people will check you out online before making a decision. 

What is Business ORM?

Business online reputation management refers to controlling the online image of your brand to protect the growth and success of your business. It’s the process of “burying” negative comments, materials, reviews, and feedback about your business online and covering them up with positive content that you want people to see when they search for your brand. 

Business reputation management is no longer an exception, and it should be an essential part of your marketing strategy. Word of mouth is now traveling as fast as lighting, and your online reviews can significantly affect the buying decisions of your potential customers. Moreover, a strong reputation is sustainable and stays forever. It also allows you to make things right and turn around negative perceptions of people towards your business. 

How to protect Online Reputation?

By protecting your online reputation, you safeguard your brand from the effects of negative comments and material on the internet. Here are a few ways to protect your online reputation. 

1. Google research: The simplest step to protect your online reputation is to look up yourself on Google and find if any results are damaging your reputation. Contact the site owner and request the content to be removed. If that does not help, create new content that overtakes the existing content. 

2. Google Alerts: Use Google Alerts to get notified of any stories associated with your name. 

3. People search tools: Tools like whitepages.com and pipl.com allow you to see if your phone number, address, or other details come up. If they do, protecting your identity becomes difficult. 

4. Don’t allow tags: If someone tags you in a picture that reflects an action that should be kept private, remove the tag and ask the person to never tag you again. 

5. Be careful while posting: What you share online stays online. Never post anything on social media out of emotions. Remember how Telsa stocks plummeted by 9 percent when Elon Musk smoked week on live TV? Thus, think twice before sharing any content with your audience and customers. 

How to monitor online reputation?

Monitoring online reputation has been made easy, thanks to some excellent tools available in the market place. Here are some of the best tools for monitoring your online reputation. 

1. Reputology: Reputology is a popular tool used for monitoring and managing your online reputation. It helps you monitor your reviews on the top review sites. 

2. Google Alerts: Google Alerts is a free tool by Google that notifies you when your name is mentioned anywhere on the internet. 

3. Social Mention: Social media can be an excellent tool for your business, but sometimes, it can be detrimental for your online reputation. Social Mention is a real-time social media search and analysis tool that allows you to see where your name has been mentioned across top social media platforms. 

4. Mention: Mention is an upgraded version of Social Mention and allows companies to closely monitor all the activities related to their brand on social media. 

5. Rize: Rize is an effective tool that helps you monitor your reviews, along with enabling you to secure more reviews. 

How to repair your online reputation?

Repairing your online reputation requires patience and effort. Follow these steps to repair the online reputation of your business. 

1. Identify the root cause: Your online reputation can be affected due to a negative search result, a criticizing review, or a bad comment on social media. Start by identifying the underlying issue. 

2. Identify the content source: Content across the internet is often syndicated, and it’s crucial to find the original source of the content. 

3. Remove negative content: If the uploader is not intending to taint your reputation, you can contact them and request the removal of the negative content. 

4. Cover it up with positive content: If you can’t get the content removed, publish plenty of positive content around your brand to counteract the negative content. When you can’t remove something from the internet, you can push it down by forcing negative results down the first page. 

5. Encourage positive reviews: If you have some bad reviews, try nullifying their effect by earning more positive reviews. 68 percent of people agreed that they would leave a positive review for a brand if asked. So, continually encourage your customers to leave positive feedback about your brand on review sites like Google, Yelp, Glassdoor, etc. 

Conclusion: Get a free reputation report

Managing online reputation is the need of the hour for every brand and business. Just one negative article or a couple of bad reviews can harm your reputation and business performance. 

If you feel your business is being affected by a negative reputation, now is the time to fix it, with a little help from Esferasoft. We conduct a free in-depth analysis of your business across multiple digital channels, thus, identifying the root cause of your negative reputation, along with the necessary steps to counteract it. Ask for a free analysis.