Have you tried Googling your business?
Are you satisfied with how your customers view and talk about your brand online?
In today’s digital age, where people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, every professional and business owner must build a favorable digital image in order to foster credibility and increase sales.
This quick guide will cover:
- What online reputation management is
- Why is it crucial
- What are the steps to online reputation management
- How to measure reputation management
- How long does online reputation management take
What is Online Reputation Management?
Also known as ORM, Online Reputation Management is the practice of controlling and managing how a business, brand, or person is perceived on the internet. It involves monitoring mentions of your business online, responding to reviews, and strategically promoting positive feedback.
There are four Online Reputation Management media channels:
- Paid media: These are brand features that require payment—for instance, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and promotions by social media influencers.
- Earned media: This is the result of organic mentions and coverage you receive from external sources, such as blog posts on other websites, forums, social media mentions, influencer endorsements, or industry-specific review sites like Google and Yelp (without payment).
- Shared media: Shared media refers to the content distributed through various social media channels. This can include posts, images, videos, and other content people actively share with their followers.
- Owned media: Owned media is any form of content you create and control, such as your website or blog. With this ORM channel, you have the ability to shape your own narrative.
Why is Reputation Management Important for Your Business?
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation, and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” — Warren Buffett, Investor & Philanthropist
First impressions last. Cliche, but true!
Maintaining a good online image doesn’t only open doors and foster trust, it also impacts sales. According to statistics, 74% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more.
Conversely, a negative online reputation can lead to missed opportunities and financial setbacks and hurt your business’s trustworthiness. Did you know Nestlé failed their reputation management big time when they faced an issue with Greenpeace?
Greenpeace made a video in 2010 that accused Nestlé of using palm oil in its candy bars. But instead of addressing the negative story professionally and openly, Nestlé allegedly covered up their failure by asking YouTube to take down Greenpeace’s video. This wrong move has triggered many negative comments against Nestlé, to the point that the company had to temporarily unpublish its public page.
Sure, most negative narratives cannot be completely eradicated, but you can always bounce back from an ORM crisis by resolving the issue head-on and demonstrating a commitment to improvement.
Here are a few more reasons why you should never underestimate online reputation management:
- It builds credibility.
People are more likely to engage with and choose a business that is perceived as trustworthy. Based on statistics, consumers read about seven reviews before trusting a business.
- It influences purchasing decisions.
Nowadays, people heavily rely on online reviews and recommendations when buying products or services. If you have a negative reputation, that can drive consumers away from your business and to your competitors’ doors.
- It benefits your SEO.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is connected with online reputation. The more positive content and reviews you get, the higher you can rank in search engines. On the other hand, a bad online reputation can push your business down in search results, impacting your discoverability to customers.
- It builds customer loyalty.
While SEO is the best tool to start your sales process, as it spreads the word about your business, ORM is the one that completes the process. That’s because it increases trust in your brand and fosters customer loyalty. A positive online reputation is instrumental in creating satisfied customers, and satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat customers and brand advocates.
- It helps you address negative reviews.
Anyone with a business is prone to negative reviews. But by highlighting your positive feedback constantly and handling the issues effectively, you can turn those bad reviews around and mitigate the impact of such situations.
What Are The Steps to Online Reputation Management?
To avoid reputation management failures and occasional setbacks, your business must have a strategic ORM plan in place. Here are the steps to ensure your brand reflects the positive image you desire.
- Define your online persona.
Before anything else, you need to clarify and define the image you want to project online. Do you want people to see you as a credible source of information in your business niche? Or do you want to be known for having personalized customer service? Consider your values, goals, and the message you want to convey.
- Audit your current online presence.
An online reputation audit is crucial before implementing any ORM strategies because it lets you understand your current standing. To check how people see your brand online, you may search your business name on search engines, review social media profiles, and visit online review sites.
- Establish your ORM strategy.
You can start by determining the online platforms where you want to establish and maintain a presence and choose which brand mentions to prioritize. We suggest responding to the critical reviews first because doing so will positively impact your reputation.
- Design a policy guideline.
Decide how you and your team should interact on the Internet. Who will handle the negative tweets? Who’s in charge of the 1-star Google reviews? It’s also best to include communication guidelines in your policy and prepare response templates so your messaging and tone of voice remain consistent across your content.
- Implement a monitoring system.
Set up monitoring tools to stay informed about what people say about you and your brand online. Google Alerts and social media listening tools are helpful in tracking mentions and sentiments. With regular monitoring, you can detect issues right away and stay ahead of potential problems.
- Address negative content.
Sixty percent of consumers say negative reviews prevent them from using a business.
Given that number, it’s crucial to respond to negative feedback as soon as you receive it. Be sure to decide what is urgent versus what can wait. For instance, reviews on your Google Business Profile and social media platforms should be prioritized because these are the feedback that rank high on search engine results.
How to respond to negative reviews:
- Don’t respond defensively. Thank the reviewer for their feedback and approach the issue calmly.
- Understand the concerns raised, and if your business is really at fault, acknowledge your mistake and offer solutions.
- When possible, try to keep the conversations public so people can see how your business handles such situations. This can impact your online image.
- Improve your products or services, especially if you get the same complaints over and over again.
- Encourage positive customer reviews.
What’s the best way to counterbalance negative content? Positive reviews and testimonials. Actively ask your satisfied customers, colleagues, and family members to share their positive experiences with your business on Google and other relevant review platforms.
- Optimize Your Online Content.
Thanks to SEO, you can influence what appears online when someone searches for your business. By using relevant keywords, optimizing meta tags, and creating quality backlinks, you can ensure that your positive content ranks high in search results.
- Regularly Evaluate and Adjust.
Online reputation management is an ongoing process. Stay attuned to changes in online sentiments, trends, and platforms and be willing to adjust your ORM strategies.
How Do You Measure Online Reputation Management Success?
Online Reputation Management is not just about implementing strategies; it’s also about measuring their impact. Here are the most crucial ORM metrics you should track:
- Volume and quality of online reviews: If there’s a consistent increase in positive reviews and a decline in negative ones, then you’re on the right track of molding a good online image.
- Web Traffic and Click-Through Rates: An uptick in website traffic, time on page, bounce rate, and CTR on positive content signify that your online reputation management efforts are generating interest.
- Conversion Rates: Your customers’ satisfaction and their likelihood of recommending your business to others can provide valuable insights into your ORM campaign. Increased customer conversion affirms that your efforts are translating into positive customer experiences.
- Social Media Reach: You may track your social reach by using social listening tools or measuring your likes, shares, comments, and follower growth. If you have a high social reach, that means there are big social media profiles talking about your business.
How Long Does Online Reputation Management Take?
So, you’ve finally implemented your online reputation management campaign. Now, you may wonder, “How long does it take for your efforts to yield tangible results?
The timeline depends on numerous factors, such as:
- The complexity of the situation
- Strategies employed
- Promptness of response
- Number of negative articles and reviews
- Search engine algorithms.
But typically, ORM projects take anywhere between 6 and 12 months. This includes improving online reviews and pushing down negative search results.
Online Reputation Management is an ongoing process that requires attention, strategy, and adaptability. By strategically influencing your online presence, you can build a positive reputation that reinforces trust, opens doors to opportunities, and weathers the challenges of the ever-changing digital world.
Does managing your online reputation feel overwhelming?
Consider seeking the expertise of Sprout Digital. We are a digital marketing agency offering online reputation management services.
With our online reviews management, AI-powered tools, and social media & SEO expertise, we can help build and maintain a positive image for your business and safeguard your reputation. Remember, it takes time to show off your best self to the digital realm, but only a moment for a negative story to threaten everything you’ve worked for.
Call us at (937) 5281423, and let’s talk about ORM!