The Internet is a powerful marketing tool and helps your business reach a wider audience than any traditional advertising channel in existence. This means it has a huge potential to either help — or hurt — your brand.
That’s what makes online reputation management so important. In today’s Internet-driven world, your business simply can’t afford to appear anything less than reputable and trustworthy when potential customers look you up online.
In this guide, you’ll learn why online reputation management is so important, how you can do it, and how to take a proactive approach to making sure that your brand is represented well everywhere it appears.
Introduction to reputation management
What do you see when you type your company’s name into search engines like Google? Ideally, you’d see your company’s site, your various social profiles, and maybe even a news article or two discussing your recent successes.
But that’s not always the case, and you may find some unfriendly reviews or critiques among the search results. You may think that these results are completely up to chance, and that there’s nothing you can do to change the irrelevant or unflattering results that appear below your site. Fortunately, that’s not the case at all. So if a search for your company’s name brings up pages that have nothing to do with your business or – worse – negative reviews, you can change that with reputation management strategies.
Reputation management involves monitoring every aspect of your brand’s online presence and doing what you can to improve it. And in some cases, it also involves handling negative press or reviews in a professional manner. But in order to be effective, your strategy should be proactive and not reactive.
Many companies choose a reactive approach and only think about their reputation when it’s threatened. Unfortunately, this makes handling issues much more difficult when they arise, and it means missing a huge opportunity to build a positive name for your business online. After all, reputation management isn’t just about damage control — it’s about improving your image as a whole.
Why manage your online reputation?
Many business owners never think about online reputation management until a PR disaster – like a negative news story or a social media rant by a former employee – comes to light. This is an unwise approach. When done well, online reputation management not only serves to preserve your reputation, it should actively build it over time.
So if you’re on the fence about online reputation management, here are a few things it can help you do:
Build a positive reputation
Spreading positive news about your company, building friendly relationships with customers and clients, and establishing your site as a valuable source of information can all help you build a strong online presence. And considering that today’s consumers use Google for virtually every business they plan to visit or buy from, you need to be sure that the results that display for your name show that you’re worth their time and money.
Beyond the search results, you can also build your reputation by reaching out to news publications, sharing on social media, and gaining brand exposure in a variety of other locations. As Internet users see this information over time, they’ll make positive associations with your company.
These associations can then go beyond your online presence, as people begin to share their opinions of your company with their friends and family. Then, when they later have a need for the products or services your company offers, they’ll already know that you’re a trustworthy provider.
Stand out against the competition
Along with your own reputation, it’s important to consider that your competitors also have a certain reputation both on- and offline. And with online reputation management, you can make sure that the results showing for your company are better than your competitors’.
Today’s consumers don’t just go to the first business they hear of – they do their research, read reviews, and ask their friends and family for advice. So even though you may think that your four-star Yelp rating is enough, if your competitors all have five, you won’t look good in comparison.
As a result, a strong reputation management strategy involves not only monitoring the conversations surrounding your own brand online, but also those about your competitors. That being said, we’d never advise you to spread negative press about other businesses. Instead, work towards strengthening your own company’s reputation to raise the standard of your industry.
Combat negative press
Even the most honest company with the greatest employees and the best products will have critics. So as much as you may not want to think about it, there will likely be a time when some unflattering complaints or reviews about your company hit the Internet.
If there isn’t much information already online about your company, these negative stories can completely take over the search results for your company’s name. But if you’ve already taken steps to spread positive information, searchers will be able to see that the current story isn’t typical of your brand.
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