In a world where image is everything, your digital presence could be creating a negative effect, both personally and professionally.
Online reputation management, also known by the acronym ORM, is not only becoming more important, but essential, to businesses that sell or promote online.
Because 97% of consumers claim that online reviews influence their buying decisions.
Read on to discover how you can manage your online reputation, and make your business grow.
What Is Reputation Management?
Reputation management is a marketing strategy designed to influence your audience’s perception of your brand, business or person.
49% of consumers say that a business should have a 4-star rating -at least- before they would consider using them.
In a world where consumers rely on search engines and customer reviews for purchase planning, investing in online reputation management is more important than ever.
A professional agency will help you
- Amplify positive online reviews
- Diminish negative feedback
- Enrich your branding, digital PR and marketing strategies to improve image and amplify reach
- Create an effective recovery plan when reputation issues occur.
The "Knock-On" Effect In Reputation Management
Have you ever thought that your company’s or your personal reputation could have a negative knock-on effect on an affiliated business?
A good example of a negative impact from a knock-on effect is the case of media mogul Harvey Weinstein and his wife Georgina Champan's highly-acclaimed fashion business, Marchesa.
It took four days for Chapman to break her silence regarding the accusations of sexual abuse against Weinstein.
Marchesa disappeared overnight, with not one single sighting on a red-carpet or an A-list celebrity.
It seemed like the brand had gone to the ground, that Marchesa's image was tarnished by the association with Harvey Weinstein.
With the red-carpet and A-list the backbone of Marchesa's identity, it became difficult to re-brand, especially since most of their clients were reported victims too.
However, it would only take one brave act at the MET Gala (Metropolitan Museum Of Art's Costume Institute in New York) to give a wake-up call to the fashion industry.
Actress Scarlett Johansson led the way, followed by unanimous support from Vogue veteran Anna Wintour, which restored the image of Marchesa, and Georgina Chapman as a victim of her estranged husband.
What set out to be a disaster, being associated with Weinstein, actually had an adverse effect.
Women, in particular celebrities, stood in solidarity with Chapman, which breathed fresh air into the former red-carpet heavyweight, regaining a fresh image and stronger perspective.
How Online Reputation Management Can Help Business Growth
31% of people would pay more for services from a company with excellent reviews.
Agencies that work on managing online reputation can help businesses in two ways:
- They devise holistic strategies to amplify the positive associations with their brand
- They create effective image recovery plans in times of trouble, i.e. of reputation damage
Both types of online reputation management services utilize a set of marketing channels and tactics including, but not limited to digital PR, SEO, social media, video marketing and more.
As a result, brands see an increase in positive reviews, conversations and mentions, traffic and publicity - all of which reflect on brand awareness and influence customers’ purchase intent.
Online Reputation Management & Branding - Is There A Difference?
Managing your online reputation is so much more than a crisis response protocol, or a way to omit bad reviews.
It’s actually a natural extension of your branding and digital PR practices.
Experts run in-depth brand and brand perception audits to identify shortcomings, as well as opportunities for growth.
Whether it's your messaging presence, tone of voice, type of content you publish or your design of logo...looking at your brand identity gives you ways to micro-position yourself, stand out in the market and create more affinity.
3 DIY Online Reputation Management Tactics
Whether you are a fully-fledged company, a small business or a C-level manager, your online reputation matters because it directly impacts the perception of your brand(s) - that much is clear by now.
While online reputation management companies can provide a powerful and, in many ways game-changing muscle to your business and brand, there are a few measures you can take on your own as part of your DIY rep management efforts.
The biggest factor in online management to pay attention to are reviews. Not only do great online reviews make consumers trust your business, but they can also help you rank higher on the search engines.
Whether it’s compromising photos on social media platforms or even negative reviews and feedback about your company or brand, you need to be aware of them in order to take necessary action.
Here are three quick tips to try on Google, before enlisting a professional reputation management agency:
- Simple google search: The easiest way to search for your company's name is to head over to Google, type it in and see what comes up. The first results page will give you a relatively good insight into how your audience perceives you and are you even on their radar. Whatever the case, it will help you identify the key areas you need to work on: improving the image, or putting yourself on the map.
- Google image search: Hop over to Google Images to see how your business is portrayed and seen. Decide whether and how you wish that image (i.e. images) to change.
- Google alerts: There is a consistent flow of new content going live on the internet every second of the day. The last thing you want to do is obsessively visit Google to see if there is anything new linked to your company's name. Thankfully, the “Google Alerts” tool allows you to set an alarm, i.e. an email notification system every time a new article is indexed with your target keyword or name.
How Digital PR Influences Online Reputation
Gone are the tactics of traditional Public Relations (PR), as digital PR has become more favorable. Your online reputation is the most integral part of company growth, and digital PR fuels the fire of your flawless online reputation.
Digital PR is a strategy used to increase the awareness of your brand by using online methods and channels.
In many ways, it’s similar to traditional PR, but it reaches out to the segment of the audience that could be much more relevant to your business, and certainly more broad.
Zenith’s New Media Consumption report states that time spent reading print media has taken a 56% nosedive between 2011 and 2018 - TV and radio plummeted 3% and 8% respectively.
Meanwhile, mobile internet is projected to contribute 28% of total media usage in 2020.
Digital PR relies on strategies such as
Digital PR strategists work on creating, optimizing and delivering content to a carefully targeted audience. The online reputation-mending messaging is communicated to the right demographics in as expeditious a manner as possible.
Some more refined tactics employed by professional agencies include strategic media placements. This will allow targeting your ideal consumers without any form of advertising through thoughtfully used media space for delivering organic messages.
Brand relationship essentially mimics and applies the interpersonal relations between people to the brand-customer dynamics.
A positive brand relationship forms connections and fosters trust between a consumer and a brand. As a consequence, reputation of a brand - both online and offer - benefits.
The consumer-brand bond comes in several different but intertwined forms:
- Brand attachment
- Brand intimacy
- Brand community
Agencies that manage brands' online reputation seem to amplify the positive byproducts of brand relationships that nurture brand reputation, such as:
- Conversion or purchase behavior
- Conversion or purchase intention
- Word of mouth
It is vital for the online reputation management agency you hire to be in control of all the above aspects of your digital public relations image.
Online Reputation Management - 3 Important Things To Consider
When going for a methodic approach of nurturing his of her brand’s online reputation, a decision-maker should think about several transformative aspects.
These can help define a course of action and provide answers that can impact the future of the brand.
Who Needs Online Reputation Management
The fast and easy answer is: everyone!
It doesn’t make much difference if a business is thriving in consumer relationships or is badly in need of salvaging its image.
The point is the following: if you have a good online reputation - you should work on keeping it. If you don’t - work on obtaining it!
Nike Support is a wholly standalone segment of the sports apparel behemoth. It even has its own, separate Twitter account, entirely dedicated to handling customer inquiries.
The purpose of this account is to keep customer comments and queries in one place, and as such, it increases the chances of a customer representative getting back to consumers in a timely fashion.
Nike replies to negative customer comments, concerns and queries to assist the original commenter, demonstrating the respect towards the opinions of their consumers - thus raising their brand reputation and profile.
How Will Online Reputation Management Transform Your Image?
Online reputation management can be the biggest key to reform and repurpose of your brand and its image. But what happens once the crisis is averted? What is the aftermath of a successfully restored online reputation?
In terms of dealing with your business image post-fiasco, a company can (and should) take a whole new direction in the way business is conducted - for good.
A suitable example of learning from a bad experience and reforming business practices is BP and their infamous, potentially disastrous oil spillage.
The trouble ensued when their long-running campaign 'Beyond Petroleum' - highlighting their commitment to environmental concerns - was marred by a monumental Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010. This was a public relations disaster for the company, as it made the general public question their credibility over its claims.
Following this incident, they spent over $500 million dollars on reforming their image. By repositioning themselves as an efficient player in the oil and gas space, rather than highlighting environmental initiatives, they incorporated a customer loyalty program and campaign that focused on its new gasoline offering called ‘Invigorate’ which promotes long-term savings by helping to keep the car engine clean.
They went from industry leaders to consumer-focused - ultimately, regaining public’s trust.
How Much Does Online Reputation Management Cost?
The cost of managing online reputation depends on the agency employed and the levels of their services included.
Even more importantly, the cost will depend on the current state of your brand image, which is gauged by:
- How competitive your business search results are
- How much info already exists about the company online
- Whether or not it has negative search results
- The amount and frequency of negative online reviews
- The level of customization that you need to improve your image
All of these can and will influence the price tag attached to this work
Price tag range for this kind of service - the online reputation management campaign that usually lasts from several months to a whole year - is about $5,000 to $15,000.
Online Reputation Management Case Studies
Delving into a couple of interesting case studies, we discovered some examples of why reputation management is a crucial aspect of branding and digital PR.
These case studies of online reputation management cite the problem, solution and result.
Financial Services Company Overcomes Negative Yelp Reviews With Help From A Reputation Management Firm
A leader in the financial services industry received a handful of negative and unfair reviews on domains like Yelp, which ranked at the top of Google.
Despite being far outweighed by the positive reviews, the negative reviews troubled the business and were often referenced by potential customers during the sales process.
The company realized that the business was not properly positioning its positive assets. They were also falling short in influencing a diverse set of web properties. A customized strategy that included optimizing and leveraging an existing set of web properties, as well as expanding the company’s digital footprint to better satisfy user search intent, was applied.
Within 11 months, the top search results for the company’s name were cleared of all negative content, and have remained positive since.
Art Gallery Partnership Turns Ugly Online
For one client with a several million dollars art gallery business, a certain partnership dissolved un-amicably, resulting in bad press.
When conducting a full Google search, three negative links showed up, including one ranking at the top of the search engine results page. To make matters worse, this review was by a well-respected art industry news site.
This was very damaging to the business since it was the first thing potential collectors would see. The more people clicked on it, the more it became prominent. As a result, the gallery owner’s income slid to nearly zero because he couldn’t move forward with his career.
- He curated a new online presence, focused on blog post articles regarding artists he worked with.
- He worked on removing negative links from the internet
- He also made frequent comments on art specialized news sites and engaged with the audience there.
- Created several image-related platforms and shared photos of several openings and works of artists.
With his reputation restored, the art gallery owner managed to find a new position with a major auction house.
The Wrap Up: Why Your Business Needs Online Reputation Management
As a way of making a conclusive finale arising from everything pointed out in this article, let us consider several rock-solid reasons why your business needs to take care of online reputation.
1. Minimization Of Costs
1 in 20 companies revealed that damaging content has cost them more than £500,000.
Having a bad rep costs a lot: money, time, effort, staff - and, most likely, all the sleep lost over the lamentable situation.
Although investing in online reputation management agency’s services may sound like a costly thing to do, in the long run - it is a money-saver. And, consequently, a moneymaker.
2. Your Good Side Shows
Online reputation restored beckons more positive prospects - the general public, enterprises, investors and all the other entities that may consider working with you will look for your reviews online.
Remember that most of these are individuals and teams mostly unacquainted with your brand and don’t know what to expect. If what they find is positive, they will gladly want to be associated with an esteemed enterprise.
3. Credibility Is (Re)Gained
87.2% of organizations agree that customer loyalty can be directly linked to commercial success
Companies worldwide are realizing we live in an age of massive transparency, thanks to the proliferation of social media and online communication. In such a world, customer trust is labeled as the number one priority.
Putting your own credibility in danger by damaging this trust can have irreversible consequences. As a major component of any success, your clients’ trust can provide multiple benefits. They will tell their friends about you, advocate your product or service and so on A good word spreads like wildfire - a bad word, even more so.
4. Online Insight Improves
Once the brand’s reputation returns from brink of destruction, executives and managers know how and where to take heed and keep an eye out so that something similar never happens again.
Bad experience as losing your online reputation is a good teacher. It will let you know exactly where to look and what steps to take to avoid a disaster. Not only will it improve your brand visibility - your own vision will be boosted as well and you will begin paying special attention to channels that were (nearly) your undoing.
5. You Can Recruit Top Talent
55% of job seekers say they abandoned a job application after reading a negative review about the employer.
Continuing on the second point, a company whose public image is positive will have an easier time attracting (and hiring) professionals who would be glad to be associated with your company.
Being able to recruit a quality workforce is the basis for future success and the edge it will give you over competitors.
The time to take care of your online reputation is not once it’s been lost. The time for that - and for finding the ideal partner to help you fight for your image - is now and always.