- Online reputation management is the process of managing the information that’s found online about your brand.
- 90% of people perform online research before making a purchase. And that research has a huge impact on their purchase decision. Unfavorable content in the SERPS translates into lost sales.
- It may not be your brand that’s the problem. If a central figure at the company has a reputation issue, then your brand has a reputation issue.
- Online reputation management consists of reputation protection, crisis management and reputation recovery.
It’s every brand manager’s worst nightmare: you Google your brand name or CEO’s name and hit a wall of negative content. Maybe your company made headlines for the wrong reasons. Or perhaps there’s a handful of bad reviews that have become a thorn in your side. Any negative content that appears on page one can hurt your brand and your company’s bottom line. But with the right online reputation management strategy, you can make sure the positive takes center stage.
91% of customers choose businesses with mostly 5-star reviews
71% of workers won’t apply to a company experiencing bad press
90% of customers perform an online search before making a purchase
What is online reputation management?
Online Reputation Management
Online reputation management, or ORM, is the process of managing the information that’s found online about a person, company or brand. While a typical ORM strategy can include review management, social media marketing, public relations, search engine optimization and customer service tactics, ORM broadly falls under the category of SEO.
Why? Because whether you’re focused on brand health, full-on damage control, or recovery, your #1 priority is controlling what shows up on page one when someone Googles the brand.
How online reputation impacts your business
If your potential customers are like most, then 90% of them will perform online research prior to choosing your brand.
…And when they perform that research, most of them won’t look past page one of Google’s search results.
…And what they see on page one makes a serious impression. Take customer reviews: if a business has mostly five-star ratings, 91% of consumers will be more likely to choose it. If it has negative reviews, then 82% of consumers are less likely to choose it, according to the same study.
That has direct implications for your sales and revenue, but the financial repercussions don’t end there. A study by CareerBuilder found that 71% of U.S. workers will not apply to a company experiencing bad press. The resulting retention issues and talent shortages can force a company to increase its recruiting budget. What’s worse, that comes just when they’re most likely to be hurting for sales.
Online reputation management examples
Online reputation management isn’t just for brands facing crises. There’s a diverse landscape of brands seeking ORM help, including the ones without any immediate issues. In fact, prevention is a crucial part of managing a reputation in this era of cancel culture.
Here are just a few examples of how we’ve helped customers with ORM:
- An executive at a multi-billion dollar company whose business took a hit after a major news website published an unfavorable story. The story was inaccurate, yet other media publications still picked it up. The story eventually spread to the executive’s social media accounts, affecting the business’s bottom line.
- A major financial services company whose sales were suffering from a handful of negative reviews. Unfortunately, that handful mattered. Prospective customers often brought the reviews up during the sales process, impacting the company’s ability to close deals.
- An executive at a high-profile firm who was plagued by an outdated news story. When people Googled the executive’s name, they found an old story about a past business deal. Google tends to favor fresh content whenever it can, but ongoing clicks and engagement were keeping the story alive.
As you can see from the above examples, even small online reputation issues can make a serious impact. And problems don’t have to be connected directly to the brand. If a central figure at the company has a reputation issue, then the brand’s reputation is also at risk.
How online reputation management is different for enterprises
If you research online reputation management, you’ll find that most firms focus on local reviews and small businesses.
But with enterprise companies, scale changes the ORM game. Mistakes are amplified across millions of customers. As a result, negativity could explode into an avalanche of scathing attacks, opinions and boycotts.
Let’s say your website experiences a three-hour outage. If you’re a small business, no big deal! However, that same three-hour window might cost an enterprise ecommerce business millions of dollars in sales. Even worse, it could cause angry customers to descend upon your social profiles.
And if you’re an enterprise-level platform like Slack or Facebook? Get ready for three hours of Armageddon-style memes on social networks.
Now, imagine the impact of a mistake that actually hurts the customer or an egregious act by a company executive. Imagine your site gets hacked and bad actors gain access to your customer data. Or the product copy on the website gets updated before the comments made in editing are removed – including the one where someone calls the product ugly.
Small businesses can move on quickly, but enterprise businesses will face a storm that could last weeks, months, or even years.
How online reputation management is different for executives
Many brands have become intrinsically tied to their founder or CEO in the public eye. If there’s a powerful company origin story, that’s especially true. For example, you can’t describe Tesla or SpaceX without mentioning Elon Musk. Alongside that, he’s developed himself as a brand, promoting his own backstory and encouraging nicknames like “The real-life Iron Man.”
Not every CEO wants to be famous, but it’s a byproduct of running a famous brand. Thanks to social media, CEOs are more visible than ever before. And customers take missteps very, very personally.
Controversial personal behavior by CEOs can spark destructive news cycles and social media boycotts. A single Tweet can send stock prices plummeting and drive away investors.
CEO reputation management tends to focus on building up an executive’s legacy beyond their leadership role in the company.
Top online reputation management issues
Which brands need digital reputation management? All of them. But the lucky ones get to use ORM strategies as a preventative measure that fuels positive brand health. Consider this phase your chance to put life preservers on the boat to prepare for a future media storm.
How does reputation protection help?
It creates a strong foundation of preferred content in your search results that reduces the impact and longevity of harmful news cycles. For brands, it establishes a process to earn positive reviews that will offset a handful of inevitable negative reviews. A reputation protection strategy strengthens your portfolio of digital assets. It also leverages SEO to push down negative search results. Beyond that, it secures Google page-one visibility for your preferred positive press mentions so a few negative news articles won’t dominate your online profile indefinitely.
This aspect of internet reputation management also puts your customer feedback process front and center, including monitoring reviews and responding to each one. And if there are any lingering questions about your brand identity, shore them up now: a strong, self-aware brand is key to bouncing back from reputation issues quickly.
If your proverbial ship has hit the iceberg, your ORM is in crisis management mode. With any luck, you’ll have a healthy history with the prevention stage. But if you don’t, a swift crisis management response can still minimize the damage.
What should you do?
Address the situation as quickly as possible, respond to feedback openly and transparently, prepare and publicize your response, and share your side of the story with the press. This aspect of reputation management is highly intertwined with PR. If done right, it can not only balance the perspectives being presented online but can also help you power through the news cycle until more positive items take center stage.
Sometimes, your business experiences a range of bad press, and it dominates the Google results. Regardless of whether the incident occurred far in the past or that the company took corrective measures, unflattering articles, blogs, press coverage or social media memes can become entrenched in your search engine results. If this is the case, you’ll need to enter reputation recovery mode.
What should you do?
Solicit more reviews from happy customers, strengthen preferred content found online, leverage your network of allies and create a more accurate profile.
Online reputation management best practices
Terakeet’s online reputation management service is built to reinforce a brand’s or CEO’s Google search results to shape first impressions. We aggressively promote preferred content to the first page of Google which overwhelmingly defines a brand’s online reputation. Done right, ORM shifts an inaccurate narrative and the true story emerges.
Unfortunately, many firms use cheap smokescreen tactics that do nothing more than create dummy accounts to throw searchers off the scent. Those techniques emphasize misdirection over truth, and they fail to change the underlying story in the search landscape. As a result, they don’t last and even actually harm brand awareness for companies and CEOs.
Enterprise-level reputation management companies like Terakeet draw from the following tactics to craft the ideal online presence for their customers.
Monitor for mentions
When an issue occurs – even a small one – address it as quickly as possible. Most minor issues are likely to bubble up as customer service complaints on social media platforms. Use a tool like Google alerts to monitor for brand mentions of your company or CEO in real time. Use social media marketing tools to tap into the conversation beyond Google. Claim your business on review sites so you can also get notified the second someone leaves a review. It goes a long way to be tuned in to the conversation.
Invest in SEO
A strong reputation management program gives you more control over the information in the Google SERP. Through SEO, you can reposition your preferred content where the majority of searchers will discover it—on the first page of Google. This may include articles about corporate social responsibility or philanthropy, social profiles, favorable product comparisons between your brand and competitors or interviews with your CEO.
Since you already produce websites, microsites, video and content, it’s a lost opportunity not to optimize everything for greater visibility. When you invest in search engine optimization (SEO), you’ll maximize your rankings and put your brand’s ideal content in front of as many people as possible.
Leverage public relations
Your brand’s website generally occupies two slots in the Google SERP. But with guest posts and PR, you can still influence what appears in the remaining organic results. Give major news sites a reason to reference your brand in a positive way, and those articles can go head-to-head with anything negative that emerges.
Optimize social media
Social media is essential for issue prevention and damage control. Optimize all of your social profiles to their fullest extent and stay engaged with your audience. When someone asks a question, answer it. When someone has a complaint, address it. And most of all, use social media to share your brand voice and encourage familiarity. If a difficult situation emerges, people will be much more quick to forgive if they don’t perceive your brand as faceless.
Expand your online presence
You probably have a number of domains that are either being underutilized or not used at all. Assess how you might be able to make use of them to showcase certain products, topics, causes or even team members. Claim and optimize business listings and social profiles. Launch a blog and publish thought leadership to expand your presence online. The more digital assets you have, the more real estate you can control.
Earn more reviews
Customers tend to leave negative reviews to gain some control over their experience and let off steam, which is why they crop up so easily. People are far less likely to write a review about a neutral or positive customer experience.
But they will if you ask them to! You have an entire base of happy customers to mobilize and leverage. Implement an ongoing review solicitation strategy so the numbers stay in your favor if a few negative online reviews occur.
See how Terakeet improved the Trustpilot profile of one of our clients from three negative reviews to over 12,000 five-star “Excellent” reviews.
Promote positive content
Did you land a glowing review in the New York Times’s Wirecutter? Or did one of your customer service reps just received heaps of praise? Positive content about your brand is everywhere. It just needs some attention.
Develop a strategy to curate and promote the wins. Celebrate media hits and positive reviews on social media. Add “As Seen In” icons to your website with links to high-profile reviews and benefit from the boost in credibility.
Create a scalable system, such as a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program, to manage customer feedback. How do you identify happy customers and what do you do with their story? Build a “happy customer database” that can power your marketing strategy.
Diversify your search landscape
The SERPs usually don’t just include ten organic listings. Depending on the search terms, they may also include images, top stories, top tweets, featured snippets, videos and more. Optimize for every feature that might pop up in a typical branded SERP. Your existing online reputation management strategies like PR and social media will cover some of them. And for others, you may need to create and optimize new content, especially if the SERP includes images or a video carousel.
Get professional help
There are a lot of moving parts at play in online reputation management that require specialized knowledge from experts. But there’s another reason to let a professional manage your company’s reputation: for the people at your company, the problem is personal. This can lead to defensive or impulsive reactions fueled by in-the-moment emotions.
Terakeet knows which pulleys and levers are most effective to reposition unwanted content and bouey positive voices within the SERP landscape. Your success is our success. Ask us how we can help put your brand in a much stronger place online.