rep·u·ta·tion man·age·ment [rep-yuh-tey-shuh-n man-ij-muh-nt]: noun. The act of protecting and improving the reputation of a company or product.
However, it can be much more complicated and involved than that. reputation management in its simplest form involves these three steps:
This stage of reputation management is done early on. You must first BUILD up the reputation of your company to establish yourself in your particular industry.
This stage of reputation management is the daily maintenance of reputation and is what is meant to keep a company’s good standing in place. Companies with an established brand presence will use this the most.
This stage is for a company who has earned or received a negative reputation, whether in the general public or within their own target audience. Experts in reputation management are trained to insert positive pieces of information to “push down” the negative press or make it seem less significant.
ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT
Because online reputation management can often backfire, it’s seen as more difficult than traditional forms of reputation management. For example, Facebook ran a sponsored poll about Happy Feet 2 to generate buzz among select audiences. However, the reaction to the poll was largely negative, forcing Facebook to remove the poll.
Online reputation management is often very labor intensive and highly specialized, so many companies outsource it to experts in the field of online reputation management.
Experts have many different strategies they use to build, maintain and recover online reputation management, which include:
- Blogging – This is a great way to add positive content online. Posts should be done on a daily or weekly basis in order to keep the positive influence fresh.
- Directory Listings – These allow you to control many of your listings and monitor what others are saying about your company.
- Social Networking – By posting engaging content on social media sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, you can influence and entertain followers (See more on social networking strategies here.)
- Publicity – This is where link building, posting ads and articles comes into play. They allow you to control the type of content the average search engine or website visitor would see.
- Reviews – Some companies choose to hire people to write and post positive reviews. I strongly recommend getting REAL reviews only. Encourage current customers to write honest reviews for a strong, natural review profile on sites like Yelp.
WHY DO YOU NEED ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT?
If you do not control your online brand, someone else will. There have been so many advances in how search engines work that you must have an expert who can keep up on all these changes and manage your brand online accordingly.
If you don’t submit positive content and gain presence on high-ranking websites, slanderous content could appear instead. For example, someone could easily post a video on YouTube, create a blog post on Facebook or write a poor review on Yelp. Because these sites currently rank so well, anyone, including a disgruntled employee, could post derogatory content about your company or product and receive high amounts of traffic.
Hiring an expert (in-house or outsourced) can help you discover negative attacks on your brand or product and take steps to make sure it doesn’t receive traffic.
Many tools are now available to help protect your brand or product. Whomever you choose to manage your reputation will know of these tools and will probably let you know they will be needed to properly manage your brand.
Some tools that are very popular are:
- Google Alerts – A popular and free option with the ability to track web results, blogs, news feeds and much more.
- Yahoo! Alerts– Similar to Google Alerts, Yahoo! Alerts also gives you the ability to track via stocks, web results, blogs, news feeds, etc., but through Yahoo’s search network.
- Twitter Search – Makes it easy to search any Twitter mentions or comments based on keyword searches. By searching for your brand or product, you can find those positive or negative comments about your company.
- Social Mention – Helps catch immediate comments in most social media based on the keyword phrases you choose.
- Trackur – A great option for small businesses, Trackur aggregates social mentions for the keywords you choose. It also has the ability to save, sort, share and subscribe to popular feeds.
For more on analyzing your presence and results from reputation management, see here.
The internet gives people the ability to connect instantly, and because of this, both good and bad information about your company can travel quickly. Online reputation management has become a necessity for many online businesses.
Determine your weaknesses and work to eliminate them. Aim to highlight the strengths of your company at every opportunity in order to improve the reputation of your brand, your product, and your business.
“It takes 20 years to build your reputation and only 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett