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Online Reputation Management: A Guide for Businesses

By: SmallBizClub


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Maintaining a healthy reputation is something that all businesses must do to ensure long-term growth. In the age of digital media, efforts to manage brand image must also encompass online channels, including social media sites and product review platforms.

Making a great impression online is not always easy, but businesses must know how to leave a mark and sustain a good reputation that spills over to the offline world. This is where online reputation management (ORM) comes into play.

In a nutshell, ORM allows businesses to control the impression they make on potential customers online. These efforts may include monitoring mentions of the business across different touchpoints, modifying the tone of sponsored content, and engaging with client feedback—positive and negative alike.

If you’re part of a business that has some form of digital footprint, you’ll need ORM to adequately handle how your brand is being presented to others. To guide you in this task, here’s an overview of ORM and some steps for utilizing it to improve your brand’s credibility, avert potential crises, and gain exposure that translates into revenue.

Assess Your Current Reputation

Before you embark on efforts to boost your image, you first need to have a grasp of where your reputation actually stands. Do you receive a lot of positive feedback, or are you steeped in negative press? Or maybe people just don’t talk about you online at all? To gauge your current status, you can start by searching for your brand name on search engines and taking note of customer feedback, press coverage, and placement on search engine results page (SERPs).

Search engine rankings can also dictate the way your reputation will go, which is why search engine optimization (SEO) plays a vital role in ORM. If you’ve done competitor analysis before, you might have noticed that big-name industry players are always on the front page of SERPs. A reliable SEO agency can guide you through the process of managing your online visibility, from the initial audits to the creation of search engine-friendly content. With this level of end-to-end guidance, you can ensure that your business remains at the top of search rankings as well as your customers’ minds.

Establish a Branding and Response Strategy

To come up with a good ORM strategy, you’ll also need to establish what your branding priorities should be. A great place to start would be the tone of your brand—are you leaning toward an authoritative and professional tone, or a more casual and friendly way of communicating? The tone you choose to embody will guide you in coming up with other aspects of your branding, such as your communication guidelines, email and social media response templates, and community management policies.

When handling responses, it’s important to discern between urgent and non-urgent concerns. It might help to background-check the users giving potentially detrimental reviews and use sound judgment to determine the need for an urgent response. Lastly, it’s always a good idea to respond to any form of feedback with grace and show customers that you’re committed to resolving concerns and providing better services moving forward.

Create Engaging, On-Brand Content

You may have heard of the saying “content is king,” and such is the case when it comes to reputation management. With the ocean of information online, your potential customers look to your content to gauge your offerings, your target audience, and any stances you may have on various issues.

As such, you need content that perfectly encapsulates your brand through different mediums, whether they’re blog entries, videos, webinars, or social media posts. It will also help to invest in your SEO strategy, which may include targeting the right keywords for your industry and creating content that boosts your search engine exposure. Search engines tend to bump up relevant, helpful, and informative content—something that an SEO team can help with.

Aside from SEO, influencer marketing is another strategy that’s become increasingly prevalent in recent years. To get your content through to various online communities, you may want to partner with influencers or internet microcelebrities that could help your brand. They’re called influencers for a reason, and having them promote your brand is a great way to mold public perception about your business.

Ensure Constant Recommendations

Even though times have changed, word of mouth is still an important instigator of brand reputation. Highly recommended businesses have a high level of trustworthiness and credibility, which is why search engines boost the exposure of businesses with overwhelmingly positive feedback.

As such, you need to encourage your new and existing customers to make recommendations to their friends and family if they like what you’re offering. Apart from organically sustaining a good reputation, you could also actively incentivize others to recommend you through marketing strategies—for instance, giving away referral codes for discounts and freebies. With a huge portion of your reputation dictated by genuine and legitimate reviews, more satisfied customers will be encouraged to share their experiences, and this in turn may help sustain a positive feedback loop for your brand.

Takeaway: Keep Monitoring Your Brand’s Online Reputation

It’s important to note that reputation management is not just something you need to do once a crisis hits. At its core, ORM requires foresight in order to mitigate concerns before they even occur. For one, regularly monitoring mentions of your brand will help you determine steps for keeping public opinion under control before things exacerbate. For another, consistent ORM will establish customer goodwill for you on the get-go, which will make it easier for you to tide through the challenges your business may eventually face with regard to its reputation.

Given the large volume of data that users share on a daily basis, it’s undoubtedly difficult to continually monitor your online reputation on your own. But remember that the internet serves as a helpful tool for creating a narrative that communicates your brand’s credibility, and that professionals like SEO companies can help you set the foundation for a trustworthy brand image. With the strategies mentioned above, you’ll be able to shape your narrative and prove why your business ultimately deserves to be at the forefront.

Published: April 4, 2023

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