- Because of the nature of the internet, even small scandals tend to have a long-lasting and outsized impact on a business.
- To address this issue, a new kind of reputation management has been developed: online reputation management.
- Online reputation management focuses on rehabilitating or addressing the reputations of businesses, brands, and individuals online.
- While it’s possible for business owners to handle reputation management themselves, it’s best left in the hands of professionals.
Before the internet, most customers relied on word-of-mouth and personal experience to determine their perception of a brand. If a business provided good service and products, they could count on positive word-of-mouth to contribute to their growth and success. Outside of the news, people didn’t have much visibility into brands beyond what they were told by trusted friends, family, and neighbors.
As time went on and visibility started to increase, PR professionals developed processes for managing the reputations of companies. These processes, referred to generally as reputation management, aim to prevent controversies from permanently affecting a business’ reputation.
The rise of social media and online review sites coupled with the proliferation of smartphones means customers have more visibility than ever before. Minor controversies that might have earned a mention in local newspapers decades earlier now often reach national and even international audiences almost immediately. There are countless examples of businesses of every size going through some customer service debacle or another. These controversies range from data breaches to accusations of insulting messages written on coffee cups. Because of the nature of the internet, even the smaller scandals tend to have a long-lasting and outsized impact on a business.
To address this issue, a new kind of reputation management has been developed: online reputation management.
What is Online Reputation Management?
Online reputation management focuses on rehabilitating or addressing the reputations of businesses, brands, and individuals online. For example, imagine the CEO of a local bank is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. In all likelihood, that person would be removed from their position because of concerns arising from their irresponsible and reckless actions. Even though the bank has addressed the issue, articles about that former CEOs arrest are obviously not going to be deleted or removed from search engine results. Unless something is created to replace or supplant them, those stories can end up hanging around for a long time.
For this reason, professionals who offer online reputation management services typically focus on improving search engine results and addressing negative social media comments. As the importance of search engine results and social media continues to grow, the impact to businesses and individuals grows as well. By focusing on improving search engine results and social media, online reputation management services can effectively improve the overall perception of a business and ensure its long-term success.
Are Reputation Management Services Right for Me?
As has been previously mentioned, online reputation management often focuses on search engine results and social media. If you’re thinking that your local business is too small to be affected by its online reputation, you might want to reconsider. Increasingly, customers are turning to social media and local search results to guide their purchasing decisions. If your business has a less-than-stellar reputation, it’s likely to be reflected in your Yelp reviews, Google My Business reviews, on Facebook, and many other places. These online areas are gaining more and more influence because it’s easier to search on your phone than it is to solicit reviews from friends and loved ones.
Virtually every business (and most public-facing individuals) can benefit from online reputation management. This includes proactive and retroactive efforts. Retroactive efforts, like improving the search results on the first page of Google by optimizing or boosting positive results and pushing negative ones further back, can help you or your business overcome issues you’ve faced in the past. Proactive efforts, like real-time review and social media monitoring, can help you identify smaller issues which could become significant controversies in the future. Proactive online reputation management can also help you address isolated incidents about which you might not have otherwise been aware.
Local Reputation Management: What You Need to Know
Online reputation management is as important for local businesses as it is for big businesses and international corporations. Today’s online customer is likely to be more aware, more engaged, and more reactive to what they see on the internet. While providing the best services and products around is still the highest priority for any small business, operating effectively online should be a priority as well.
Quickly responding to reviews from local customers, addressing any concerns, answering any questions are all ways of providing excellent customer service online. Depending on the size of your business or the number of customers you interact with, this level of quality customer service can be overwhelming. Online reputation management professionals are trained to address what can be addressed, de-escalate where possible, and surface important issues to business owners.
As time-consuming and important as proactive reputation management is, retroactive reputation management can be even more difficult. To effectively rehabilitate a company’s image after a controversy can be expensive and requires a lot of work. From developing a strategy to earn positive customer feedback to creating positive content that will rank well, anyone looking to rehabilitate their online reputation has their work cut out for them.
While it’s definitely possible for business owners to do this effectively, it’s also possible that transparent attempts to cover over bad news can cause more problems. When it comes to rehabilitating a bad reputation, an incredible amount of thought, care, and precisions are required. On top of that, ensuring that the same news entities that reported the issue are aware of efforts to address it can require carefully written press releases, sometimes even events to attract local coverage, and more.
We Can Help
At the end of the day, a brand or individual’s reputation can make or break them. Online, it can be incredibly easy for bad press, a viral negative review, or oversight to cause lasting damage. By taking your reputation and the potential consequences you can experience seriously, you can address historical issues and prevent future ones. Online reputation management professionals can help you or your business using proven search engine optimization and public relations strategies.
We know it’s tough, but we can help. Reach out to us today for more info.