Understanding Online Reputation Management

Your business’s reputation is key to your success. Negative information and a poor online reputation does adversely affect your ability to make a profit in today’s competitive economy. Managing your reputation both online and offline continues to become a more complex challenge for individuals and businesses across the globe. The advent of the internet has allowed, and in fact supports and encourages, individuals to provide their opinions, thoughts and experiences online for the world to see. A simple Google or other search engine browse is not enough to keep track of your business reputation online. Thankfully, there are professionals available that have access to the best tools to locate negative information, identify it, work to remove the negative information and build your reputation in a positive way.

The Difference Between Public Relations And Online Reputation Management
For decades, public relations individuals have worked on behalf of their employer or clients to manage crises, and the reputation of companies. They attempt to bring positive information about the business to the forefront of the minds of the general public, investors, and their customers. Public relations professionals typically use news releases, press conferences, and other proactive means to give their organization a positive light; during a crisis, they spring into action to handle the negative feedback, and continue to work to build the reputation of their organization. Online reputation management is a different function. Anyone with access to the internet has the ability to post anything they want, negative or positive, about an individual or a business. Posts can appear in articles, news feeds, blogs, forums, and reviews; negative information here can irreparably harm business reputation. Online reputation management professionals have different tactics in their arsenals than public relations professionals.
What Corporation Reputation Management Companies Do For Their Clients
The first step in any proactive corporate reputation management plan is to find all negative information about the business that is lurking on the internet. Once the negative information is found, it can be dealt with in a number of ways. Information may be removed by request to the owners of the websites where the information resides, or positive campaigns may be launched to counteract the negative information. In some cases, simply responding properly in forums and blogs can help boost the reputation of the business. It is also important to point out that negative reviews gives corporations the opportunity to work with the reviewers on challenges they may be facing with their products, services, or technical assistance. Some complaints and negative information can be effectively handled in this manner.

The second step is a comprehensive program that includes consistent monitoring of online comments across the web. During every moment of the day individuals can be harming corporate reputations online; constant monitoring is essential. In addition, online reputation companies can recommend and push positive information, positive testimonials and other information that boosts an organization’s reputation to outweigh the negative content and information found online. Additional tactics include the release of positive press releases, an increase presence in answering negative comments in blogs, forums, and other locations. Proactively having a team of customers and corporate reputation professionals that consistently blog and participate in online forums that reflect positively on organizations is one way to lessen the effect of negative information, and draw an overall more favorable online reputation.

There are also other tactics that are considered somewhat less ethical. These include the creation of fake blogs under an assumed identify that counteracts negative posts and information, the use of spam bots and other black hat techniques to bring down websites and the content, and a tactic referred to as “astroturfing” that creates anonymous accounts focused on creating positive reviews and information. Some online reputation management companies offer these services in addition to monitoring and what are considered “white hat” reputation management tactics to help business reputations.

Why Corporate Reputation Online Is Important
Even businesses that do not focus their primary sales efforts online must maintain a healthy and positive reputation. Studies show that nearly two-thirds of individuals search for information online prior to making a purchase. The information they seek is not just regarding available products, but also about the reputation of the businesses offering products for sale. If your reputation shows that you don’t respond to customer complaints, or that your products are inferior or your pricing is higher than your competition, you can suffer from a loss of sales and revenue. For businesses that do sell their products and services online, it is important to ensure that your investors, customers and potential customers feel that your business is ethical and stands behinds your products. Managing your corporate reputation online takes consistent and proactive work that is often best accomplished by professional reputation management companies that have the tools and expertise necessary to help your reputation thrive.

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