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Online Reputation Management 101: Understanding the Basics and Why They Matter

Imagine you were standing in front of two ice cream stores. They both have the exact same facade, the same flavours advertised, and the same pricing. For all intents and purposes, they’re the same store, just copy and pasted next to each other. Then, out of the store on the left appears a customer, smiling, happy, and clutching onto a cone like it’s their most treasured possession. On the right, out comes a customer scowling and huffing, who subsequently dumps their cone in the nearest bin, says a four-letter word we can’t put on the internet and stomps off angrily. Which store are you going into?

You (unless you’re a sucker for punishment) chose left. And you didn’t choose it for the offerings, or the pricing or the aesthetic appeal. You chose the left store because a significant decision-making factor is the emotive response of other people to the service provider. The reputation a business has is just as important as its offerings, so it’s critical that businesses actively manage their reputations through a strategic process called Online Reputation Management (ORM.)

ORM is the process businesses can follow to ensure that search results and online content accurately reflect the message, sentiment, vision and values they espouse. It involves a variety of techniques and strategies, including monitoring social media and review sites, addressing negative feedback and reviews, and promoting positive content to improve online reputation. Online Reputation Management is an ongoing and involved process that involves consistent listening, analysis and strategy to be effective.

The benefits of effective online reputation management

Establishing an ORM strategy that works will have various beneficial consequences for your business. It can help to build trust and credibility among your target audience, which can lead to increased brand loyalty and positive word-of-mouth recommendations. Additionally, effective ORM can help to mitigate the impact of negative reviews or feedback, as it provides a proactive approach to addressing issues before they spiral out of control.

You listen for the rumbles of negativity, produce positive counter-content before that negativity can gain traction, and naysayers can’t get a foothold! A great online reputation management strategy can also help to improve search engine rankings, as positive content and reviews can push negative content down in search results.

Overall, effectively managing your brand’s image online can have a significant impact on your bottom line, as it can lead to increased sales, improved customer satisfaction, and a stronger brand reputation. You could be known as “the ice cream shop on the left” before people even get the chance to approach your storefront.

Monitoring your online reputation

An integral part of online reputation management is ensuring that you’re aware of precisely what is being said about our brand online, in real-time. By picking up on negative feedback early, you can step in and sort out issues before they cause negative online sentiment, and you can catch malicious, outdated misinformed or just plain incorrect content before it gains traction. Then, create counter-content using similar keywords that pushes sensationalist negativity further down the search results. However, screening every social media platform or third-party site every hour on the hour is not viable, and may prove an obstacle in running your business. That’s why we’ve compiled our favourite media listening tools for you to try out and added a few additional tips to help you develop a listening process to keep you informed but won’t take up all your precious time:

  1. Google Alerts– a free tool that allows you to monitor mentions of your name or business across the web. This can send alerts directly to your inbox, which is really convenient if you’re always on the go!
  2. . Social Mention– a social media search engine that allows you to monitor mentions of your name or brand across multiple social media platforms. This tool works in real-time, so it’s great to have if you’re monitoring a PR crisis or need to tackle a problem as it occurs.
  3. Hootsuite– a social media management platform that can be used to monitor social media mentions and track brand sentiment. This is integrated with a community management interface that will make responding to people much easier and can generate some really useful analytics about your brand’s social media performance overall.
  4. . Brand24– a social media monitoring tool that provides real-time monitoring of social media mentions and alerts. What sets this tool apart is its scope, which encompasses news, blogs, videos, forums, podcasts, reviews, and more platforms.
  5. ReviewTrackers– a reputation management tool that allows you to monitor and respond to online reviews. If you’re in a field with a lot of competitors, this tool offers a really nifty competitive market analysis function that positions your reputation against that of your competitors, so you can see the areas of your strategy which need improvement.
  6. Try conducting regular searches of your brand name on search engines and social media platforms to monitor your online presence and reputation. Depending on the size and activity of your brand, “regular” could mean once a day or once every few days. We’d suggest doing a “sweep” across all platforms and search engines about once a week at minimum.
  7. If you receive any negative feedback, make sure you respond promptly and professionally. Most consumers expect their feedback to be addressed within a 24-hour window, if not sooner. A consumer who feels heard and knows their problem has been addressed is infinitely more likely to give your company another chance and recommend it to others.
  8. Encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and testimonials on review sites and social media platforms isn’t only allowed, it’s encouraged! Obviously, not disclosing sponsored reviews is unethical, but if a regular paying customer expresses their satisfaction to you, don’t be scared to ask them to get loud about it!

Creating and Promoting Positive Content

One of the central pillars of Online Reputation Management is the creation and promotion of positive-sentiment-driven content about your business. You could have the best offering in the world, but if you’re not telling people how great it is, you might as well be producing something mediocre. People need to be enticed by the promise of satisfaction before they trust your brand enough to part with their money. The positive content you create will influence your Online Reputation Management in the following ways:

  1. Pushing down negative content: When you create and promote positive content about yourself or your business, it can help push negative content down in search engine results. This makes it less likely that people will come across negative information when they search for you or your business online. Get the good stuff front and centre!
  2. Establishing yourself as an expert: By creating and sharing value-additive content that demonstrates your knowledge and expertise in your field, you can establish yourself as a credible source of information. This can help build trust with your audience and eventually keep you front of mind when they do choose to make a purchase.
  3. Providing a more balanced view: If negative, misinformed, harmful or outdated content exists online about your business, creating positive content can provide a more balanced view to anyone searching our name. By presenting positive information alongside negative information, people may be more likely to view the negative information with skepticism or discount it altogether.

The more valuable, positive and honest content you create, the more results in the initial search page it will take up. Most people don’t scroll further than the first five results, so your positive content just needs to take up the top spots to work!

Engaging with your audience on social media is important for businesses because it helps to build a relationship with your customers. This can lead to increased loyalty and trust, which can in turn lead to increased sales and revenue. Additionally, social media engagement can provide valuable feedback and insights into what your customers like and dislike about your products or services, which can help you improve your business.

Building a strong online presence

You can’t show up to save face from a negative reputation if you’re not showing up at all! That’s why, in order for your online reputation management efforts to be effective, you need to develop a strong online presence. If your technique is there but the “strength” of clout and visibility isn’t, your efforts will be for nothing.

With the vast majority of people now turning to the internet to research products, services, and companies, your online presence will significantly impact how you are perceived by potential customers, clients, partners, and employees, which is the whole reason you’re managing your reputation.

Here are a few pillars of online presence we believe should be addressed and strengthened before you start your journey to actively look your best:

  • Online reviews and ratings: Reviews can make or break how potential customers see your business. If you establish a workflow in which you maintain or and manage these reviews, respond to negative feedback, and showcase positive experiences. You should also be actively encouraging positive customer reviews from patrons that you know are already satisfied as part of an ongoing process.
  • Search engine results: Search engines like Google, Bing or even a new kid on the block like the AI-driven ChatGPT play a significant role in shaping perceptions of your brand. When someone searches for your company, your website and other online properties should appear at the top of the search results. You can ensure this happens by establishing an effective SEO strategy.
  • Social media presence: Social media platforms provide an opportunity to connect with customers and showcase your brand’s personality. You effectively allow your brand to become a “person,” and your customers to make friends with that “person.” A strong social media presence can help you engage with customers, address concerns, and promote positive experiences. You also get to foster loyalty, trust and an emotive response, which are unparalleled assets in the reputation management game.
  • Brand messaging: Your online presence should accurately reflect your brand messaging and values by effectively communicating your “brand identity.” This helps build trust and credibility with potential customers and stakeholders. It’s crucial to establish a “brand identity” before creating promotional materials or content, as consistency from the foundation makes it much easier to attract and retain your ideal target audience.
  • Think of it this way: No matter how valuable what you’re saying to a room of people is, if you’re whispering it from a corner, you’re only going to reach and influence two or three people at most. Online presence building equips you with a box to stand on and a megaphone to shout your message through. Let the things you want to communicate in your online reputation management process reach every corner of the room you’re standing in, and maybe even across the street!

So you understand why you need Online Reputation Management: now what?

Effective online reputation management will offer your business a whole plethora of benefits! These include an improved brand image, increased trust and credibility, competitive advantage, better customer relationships, crisis prevention and management, and improved search engine rankingsNot only will this process allow public perceptions of your brand to align with the desired impression you have for your business in your head, but doing so will increase your conversion rate and bring you a higher profit turnover than you were experiencing previously. Sounds good, right?

The only hurdle left is time. Online Reputation Management is, by its very nature, a time-consuming process. We know that as a business owner, the last thing you have is an abundance of free time. That’s why the FGX team is here to offer our online reputation management services to you.

We’ll handle all the image polishing and you can get down to making the hard work happen. If you’d like to find out more about these services – and why we’re the best people to give them o you – just contact us today to set up a FREE consultation!