Online reputation management: what it is and what it isn't

Online reputation management: what it is and what it isn’t
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Albert Einstein

Possessing a good reputation is important for everyone, especially if you are an entrepreneur, a blogger, a celebrity, a politician or anyone that the masses look up to. Type your name in the Google search bar or any other search engine and find out how you appear in the online community, which includes social networking sites, news sites, different forums, blogging sites, search engines and others. Is it good, bad or so-so? Do you think you are being fairly represented? Would you like to improve your image and reputation? Would you like to know how?

There are companies that offer reputation management services and help you acquire a good online presence. You can also try to do it yourself, but you have to understand and learn the process thoroughly. An amateur may find it difficult to do at first, but it becomes less complicated with a little practice and as you get to know more about it. You have to have patience and discipline when it comes to learning new things and aim to master the subject.

What it is in general
The main task or goal of online reputation management or ORM is to monitor and influence the reputation of the group or individual. ORM can help you take control of the online conversation. The techniques and strategies that ORM uses can help ensure that people searching for you online find the right thing.

Good online reputation management can give you the ability to put your best foot forward, nullify misleading bias and establish balance. ORM can help business owners create a good reputation and a positive image of their brand within the online community.

If you own and manage a brand, you need to be aware of this. It is imperative to know exactly what is going on with your brand. Gather information about its status and people’s opinions about it. Focus on the things they are talking about when they mention your brand, your product or the things you offer.

Many online communities and e-marketplaces like Alibaba, e-Bay and Amazon have built-in ORM systems. They also have efficient control nodes that can help decrease threats and protect the system against potential abuse and misuse in decentralized overlay networks perpetrated by malicious nodes.

In this digital age, consumers rely on online sources to get the information they need about a particular brand, company, service or product. They prefer a company with a good reputation. A well-designed online presence brings wonderful things to the company, and a serious negative review can cause irreparable damage.

Common misconceptions

Online reputation management also has its share of common misconceptions. Establishing a good online reputation is challenging and maintaining a positive image is even more demanding.

1. People will only be interested in talking about your brand or the things you offer if you have already gained a large-scale online presence.
This is not true, as consumers can always find ways to express themselves or communicate online. Even a smaller local business owner knows that a simple comment from their customer on Facebook about their experience with the company can spread to hundreds of potential customers.

2. You can ignore unfavorable reviews or comments about you.
Whether you are a business owner, blogger, celebrity or anyone else who must maintain a good reputation within the online community, understand that ignoring the negative things people say about you won’t make them go away. You can choose to close your eyes to avoid reading them and deny their existence, but they will still be visible to the entire online community. You can only lessen the damage if you have an effective and viable response to prevent people from continuing to talk about it. A proper response is the only way to show your willingness to appease your customer’s frustration and to show your sincerity in wanting to get their satisfaction. When potential customers read your response, you may even gain more customers.

3. It is easy to turn a negative reputation into a positive one within the online community.
A negative reputation is something that is quite difficult to reverse, regardless of whether it is online or offline. You must take care of your image if you want to succeed in your business. It is important to start managing your online presence from day one and not wait for a big disaster to happen before you decide to build a good image for you and your business. The main mission of online reputation management is to make sure that your reputation never falls below the positive line. Dealing with all negative comments or reactions in a timely manner and identifying problems before they become a big deal can help quell their unfavorable effects on your image.

4. To stay on top, your business should only get 5/5 reviews all the time.
Many business owners believe that their online reputation should be at its peak all the time and that means getting a 5 out of 5 in reviews from every customer. Having a perfect 5 overall rating is pretty suspect. It seems unrealistic in the eyes of your customers and potential customers. Online communities expect some people to be dissatisfied with your brand. Make sure your brand has balanced reviews and a favorable rating.

5. Reputation and search engine optimization have no relationship.
Search engine optimization or SEO plays an important role in ORM. SEO can help shape information into something that can help boost a brand’s image when web surfers try to search for it. A local business that ignores the importance of SEO can face the risk of having an unfavorable response when the first thing a potential customer sees when trying to Google about that business is negative reviews or comments. First impressions are often lasting, and you don’t want your potential customers to have a bad image of your company in their mind.

6. Online reputation management takes care of bad reviews by generating more good reviews.
While manufacturing a lot of good reviews to hide or compensate for the bad ones may cover some tracks, there are some causes that need to be patched. Also, having honest reviews is still better than generating fake ones. Online communities are smart and can detect that something is wrong. The best way to counter a negative review is to understand the reason or cause of the review and explain what you can do to satisfy your customer. You can ask for a second chance, review your processes and offer a deal to eliminate the bad review.

7. Your offline presence will not be affected by your online presence.
When a customer is mesmerized and wants to show what a good deal he has found, he usually chooses to do it online. And when the customer is angry and seeks revenge, they will also find the Internet the most powerful tool to damage your brand. Constant interactions and communications are vital to business growth, especially when you can incentivize a good review or fix a mistake so you don’t get a bad one. People who discuss almost anything on social media are no different than people who get together and talk about things over lunch or dinner, but when it comes to the Internet, the damage can stay there and reach and influence millions of people.

8. Company employees will not contribute to the success or possible downfall of a company or business.
On the contrary, what your employees say or do can affect your company. You can rely on your employees (as well as their friends and family) to strengthen your company’s online reputation. Similarly, anything bad they do online can also affect your company’s image when people are aware that they work for you. Remind your employees to be mindful of the things they post on social media, especially if it’s something that involves the company. Don’t wait until your reputation is damaged to act, you need to devise a plan now to protect the image you want to maintain.

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