Online Reputation Management: The Complete Guide

There are many misconceptions about online reputation management. Some people think it's just social media monitoring, while others believe it has something to do with public relations, and others literally have no idea how it can impact business and sales.

In this guide, I will explain the role of online reputation management in the current business and media landscape. Companies of all sizes can benefit from a clear outline of their key concepts.

They are talking about you

Just a few years ago, the internet was very different. Companies were not interacting with customers, but simply selling to a somewhat more passive target audience; people couldn’t express their voice, and the overall communication scenario was very “top-down.”

The situation has changed radically. Today, websites are not static flyers. There is a lot of user-generated content and it has become mandatory. AND regular interactions on social media are vital to any business success.

Regardless of the size of your business, they (prospects, customers, and potentially everyone) are talking about something. They're tweeting about your latest product, leaving a comment on your blog, sharing a Facebook update about your customer experience, and more.

If you think you can ignore this, or if you can do it without taking into account people's voices, opinions and criticisms, think again.

The risk of transparency

One of the newest business commandments is “Be Transparent.” Open reviews and comments appears to be beneficial for companies that adopt this new mode of communication with your audience.

What does it mean to be “transparent”? here are some examples:

  • Allow employees to speak publicly about products and services
  • Establishing a 1-to-1 communication channel
  • Requesting feedback
  • Does not hide criticism and addresses it publicly

Easier said than done! Most small and medium-sized businesses don't invest much in communication and struggle with this concept. As a result, their efforts are often incorrect or inconsistent.

Being transparent is risky. But in the long run, not being transparent is riskier.

Online Reputation Management “Failures”

The risk of transparency has led to many companies failing to strive to be “radically transparent”. Being open, in fact, does not come without a price. If your brand accepts feedback, customer opinions, etc., it should also be ready to accept and face them immediately.

Consider these scenarios:

  1. What if your product/service generates a lot of reviews?
  2. What if your employees are not aware of social media?
  3. What if your competitors take advantage of this?

These are some of the reasons why it is necessary to have a proper online reputation management plan in place before starting a “transparency journey”.

Here are three famous cases of reputation management failure in the digital age:

  • The Dark Horse Café received a tweet criticizing the lack of power outlets for laptops. Their response it was something like, “We’re in the coffee business, not the office. We have many options to do what we need. ” It goes without saying that this type of defensive/aggressive behavior doesn’t work in the online world. Many blogs reported it as a bad case of public relations.
  • Nestlé it received negative comments about its environmental practices a few years ago and did not address them. People began to become aggressive and posted altered versions of the Nestlé logo, forcing the company to close its public page. Take it away? Don't pretend people aren't talking, and deal with criticism as quickly as possible.
  • Amy's Baking Company fought fire against a one-star review on the Internet. His insults against the reviewer ended up being reported by local news . It's obvious that negative attention is not good publicity.

What's the feeling out there?

What are people saying about you? Good online reputation management is not just about reacting well to what people say about you, your brand or your products and services, but also about whether you should react at all and, if so, when. Sometimes a reaction is not necessary; others, too late, can cost millions.

A proactive approach to the problem is to monitor your public reputation regularly, and not just when you know of a specific event to deal with. How you do it? The magical tools invented to solve this problem are called “social media monitoring”.

Simply put, social media monitoring allows businesses to collect public online content (from blog posts to tweets, from online reviews to Facebook updates), process it, and see if anything negative or positive is being said affecting their reputation.

Social media monitoring can be either DIY (Google Alert is an example of a free web monitoring tool accessible to anyone) or professional, depending on the size of the company involved.

Online Reputation Bombs

In the online reputation management landscape, there are two types of negative content that businesses should be aware of. One is represented by complaints on social media. They need to be dealt with appropriately, but unless your company has serious problems, they do not pose a real challenge to your business.

The other is what I define as “online reputation bombs”, which affect your reputation and sales in the long term and can seriously damage the business. They are very powerful because, unlike social media content, they are prominent in search engine results. What if someone Googles your brand and finds defamatory content? Let's see what they are:

  • Negative reviews: Review sites allow users to express their opinion about your brand. Did they like your service/product? Would they recommend? Negative content can affect your sales, and addressing reviews on your website may not be enough. Sites like Ripoff Report and Pissed Consumer provide the perfect platform for this type of negative content.
  • Hate sites: Some people go beyond simple negative reviews and create ad hoc websites with their opinions, some of them with illegal content. So-called “hate sites” sometimes target companies and public figures with insults and false information. Needless to say, a search result like “The truth about NAMEOFYOURCOMPANY” or “NAME scam/rip off” will send your potential customers running away!
  • Negative media coveragePhineas T. Barnum used to say: “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” This may be true for controversial public figures like Paris Hilton, but often unfavorable coverage from TV, print and online media negatively impacts companies and brands.

Should we call the police?

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes that:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; This right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and transmit information and ideas across any network and regardless of borders. ”

It's obvious that everyone has the right to express your voice about your brand. There are, however, certain limits that need to be respected. In fact, some negative content online is illegal. Why?

  • Uses defamatory language
  • Uses false information
  • It is intended to damage the company's reputation

How do you react to all this? How do you defend yourself or your company against this type of illegal behavior? Depending on the scope of the problem, several paths can be taken to restore your online reputation:

  • Aggressive SEO: If someone searches your name on Google, appearing on pages 1 and 2 of the search results will be much more important than your business card or website. They will quickly show several high-ranking web sources talking about themselves. If they display false information, the first thing you or your online reputation management company should do is devise a search marketing strategy that increases the rankings of positive content, whether owned by you or others. The search engine game is too important to ignore and is the first step to restoring your image.
  • Removal review: Did this user claim something false about your company? Is this review clearly aimed at destroying your reputation rather than providing feedback? Does it contain inappropriate language? Cool call and speed of reaction will allow you to remove the negative review.
  • Online investigations: In case of serious attacks on your brand image, you may need to hire qualified online analysts to investigate untraceable threats and attackers through email tracking, cross-data indexing, and other information gathering techniques . Cyber ​​investigations are the ultimate way to get to the bottom of difficult reputation management cases.

10 Commandments of Online Reputation Management

Calling it “online reputation” is really redundant. Your online reputation is simply your reputation. In the digital age, nothing protects you from criticism anymore. This is good from a free speech perspective; bad if your company has been defamed and attacked.

To conclude, ten practical tips that summarize what we covered in this guide. The world of brand reputation will change in the coming years, but following these simple “commandments” will definitely benefit you and your brand:

1. Become well respected

According to several business experts, trust is a perishable asset and hard to get . Making people respect you and your work is more important than any other commandment of online reputation management.

2. Be radically transparent

After years of hiding critics, the egg suppliers Mc Donald's forced publicly to raise the standard of living of chickens, in accordance with the request of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

3. Monitor what they are saying about you

In addition to the above-mentioned reasons to monitor your online reputation, social media monitoring can also bring you business! These days, many people ask questions via Twitter and Facebook because they are evaluating whether or not they should buy from you.

4. React quickly and politely

In the case of a customer complaint via Twitter, for example, a quick and simple message: “We are aware of the issue. We are working on it and will get back to you as soon as possible. It's better than a late response with more information.

5. Address criticism

In 2009, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's WSJ published an opinion on Obama's healthcare reform caused controversy among WF customers. Two days later, the company provided a response statement acknowledging that there were “many opinions on this issue, including within our own company” and invited people to share their opinions on the matter.

6. Treat your Google page 1 as your business card

First impressions count and we judge many books by their cover. If the words “fraud” and “theft” are associated with your brand, this is something you should be concerned about.

7. Understand your detractors

Criticism can be a chance to learn more about your audience and create a better message in the future. The controversial commercial Motrin “mothers who use mothers” provoked much criticism. It didn't come from competitors or illegitimate attackers, but from people in Motrin's target audience who were offended by its promotional content.

8. Attack your illegitimate attackers

Sometimes we simply have to combat illegal behavior. In 2009, Domino's Pizza employees People who posted disgusting videos playing with food were fired and arrested. Another example is people who post false information on the internet. Sometimes if you don't sue them, they may do it again.

9. Learn from your mistakes

Sony certainly learned a reputation management lesson in 2005. The company has put copy protection (XCD) on their CDs, which created computer vulnerabilities that malware could exploit. Instead of being open about its mistake, Sony withheld criticism and lost millions in lawsuits.

10. Ask for help if needed

If your online reputation management efforts are not enough to protect or restore your brand image, you can ask for help from a professional.

source: NeilPatel

Discover the case of Melgaço RadicalRafting in Minho. It is one of the examples of good reputation management.