Good news travels fast – at least that's how the saying goes. Those working in professional communication, however, know the truth: bad news moves just as quickly.
That's why it's up to organisations to control the dialogue, and not just when things go wrong. Proactively managing your online reputation can go a long way in boosting perception of your brand. This, of course, is not only essential for bringing in business, but for recovering from bad press or negative reviews should they occur.
Not sure where to get started? Here's our guide.
What is online reputation management?
If you want your business to thrive, having a strong online reputation is paramount. A staggering 88 per cent of people trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend, according to BrightLocal. This naturally compounds the need for positive feedback on the web; unfortunately, you can't control what people write.
That's where online reputation management (ORM) comes in. A key aspect of ORM is using positive content to minimise anything negative that might appear about your brand in search or social. There's more to it than that though. ORM also includes addressing negative feedback – like bad reviews – directly and removing information that's defamatory and false.
The power of social proof: 88% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. https://t.co/MIA3XAC0hX
— BigCommerce (@BigCommerce) March 6, 2018
If you think this sounds a lot like PR, you'd be partially right. Both involve professional communications and sending a promotional message. ORM, however, is more about content and publishing materials that send your message in a more subtle, but equally engaging way. The goal of ORM is to ensure your web presence is better than the competition in a world that trusts Google as a close friend.
How to boost your company's online reputation
So, publishing complimentary content about your brand is the answer, right? Not necessarily. ORM needs to be a goal of your overarching marketing and communication strategy. Your efforts must go beyond content creation and can't only come in the wake of a crisis.
To effectively manage your brand's reputation in search and social, you must:
1) Routinely check search results
Run a search for your company to see what's out there, but put yourself in your customers' shoes as well. What do they search to find you? Evaluate the results and try a variety of search terms and queries. Ideally, you'll rank on page one – maybe even more than once! If you don't, you probably need to invest more in content marketing.
Equally important is checking your findings on a mobile device. Are pages fast and easy to navigate? This is imperative as Google has made clear that mobile-friendliness is now a ranking signal.
2) Evaluate your web presence objectively
Again, pretend you're a customer. Visit your website and evaluate your online presence objectively. Ask yourself:
- How does my site look? Is it professional? Fast? Easy to navigate?
- Is it clear what we offer?
- Do we tell our story effectively? Make our mission known?
- Does my content answer questions? Is it valuable?
- Are any of my competitors' sites better? In what ways?
Similarly, take a look at your social accounts. Would you follow your business? If your content is boring, repetitive or infrequent, you're likely missing out on real results.
3) Create high-value content
Content is at the heart of your online reputation. After all, if you don't tell the story of your business, others will and when this happens, you risk looking unprofessional or worse.
Content is at the heart of your online reputation.
Therefore, it's in your business' best interests to never miss an opportunity to promote yourself. You should constantly create high-value content your target audience will find engaging.
This doesn't just happen. Take the time to formulate a strategy which maps out what you'll create, why and for whom.
4) Set goals for your organisation
Before you do any of that content creation, however, set clear goals for your organisation. If you haven't defined success, you can never really succeed. So, sit down and think about what's most important to your business. Do you need brand awareness? Lead generation? Or something else entirely.
Be specific. The internet is a big place and it will be difficult to achieve everything within your specific marketing budget.
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