A majority of online marketers do not understand how poor reputation management could hurt their firm’s sales. This week I had an interview with Don Sorensen, whose work involves improving online reputation. He is the head of Big Blue Robot, working with other companies and executives for the last ten years making him experienced at what he does. For this reason, I wanted to know more about his views regarding the impacts of negative search results could have on a company no matter the size.
The first thing he said was “never underestimate the cost of a poor reputation.” He provided an example that he once consulted with a company that has a severe online reputation problem and the moment a potential customer searched the company’s name, seven of the top ten Google results were negative. After he carefully reviews their rank and previous year revenue, he projected the company was losing about $2 million per annum in revenues due to bad search engine outcomes. The firm confirmed that his estimates were actually accurate – however low.
According to this, indeed, online reputation management has a big impact on a company’s revenue. My next was – what online marketers can do to protect their company’s good image? Well, below are his advice, answers, and understanding depending on more than a period of managing online reputations for various clients in different industries.
What Are Some Online Reputation Issues A Brand Might experience?
Business reputation management – part of your marketing efforts
The truth of the matter is that business owners are mainly taken off-guard by online reputation issues. A number of these businesspersons do not even realize that they need to be concerned about their reputation online. Often, business owners ask him “why are people saying bad things about us online? Also, what can we do about it?” Business owners spend a lot of time, money and effort creating a solid brand name. It could be worrying to find out one day and find offensive information especially when the products go beyond constructive criticism to contain contemptible allegations and even malicious or unfounded remarks.
To make everything worse, all the negative remarks are often on websites that rank high on search engines. Therefore, anyone doing a search on the company name will most likely view them. It does not matter if the comments are false or not, these negative reviews will affect the company or brand in a negative way.
If this occurs, many online business owners do not even consider the potential losses in hiring ability, press coverage, and even sales not until long after the damage is done. Well, that is understandable, given all they are responsible; but leaving them vulnerable. At the same time, it becomes a lot more expensive and very difficult; and sometimes impossible to clean up the bad reputation after it has already occurred.
“I have seen more than a few companies plagued by a small group of individuals with a vendetta against a company who leverage the internet to do damage,” He said. He continued to say, “these people often have goals to damage a company’s reputation or even profits through poor reputation by shorting their stock.”
Do you see business owners’ personal reputation affect their companies’ online reputations these days?
“Most definitely” for many days, top-level executives name can be identified with their brands. Mainly, CEOs are known to be linked to their brands. As such, their personal reputations can affect the company as corporate reputations do. It is known that shareholders at times look into executive reputations before they even consider investing, and it is the angle mainly taken by journalists. Managers with strong personal reputation are often thought as leaders as well as industry experts; which is a big benefit for the business.
Won’t First Page Positive Results Stay Where They Are And Protect Against Bad Reputation?
It is very important to note that just because the results are good today, it will be there tomorrow. Search engine results can change at any time based on social media, recent news, algorithm changes and other factors. The truth of the matter is that keeping a positive online reputation is a continuous process that all brands have to do.
How A Firm Should Consider Handling Their Emergency Communication Plans To Prevent Reputation Problems
In today’s world, any crisis will shortly be available online due to real-time social media update. Well, even though major news publications may not report negative stories about a company; social media, blogs, online forums and others could do great damage to a company’s reputation. Therefore, the best way to avoid bad brand reputation online is by doing everything possible to avoid it.
NOTE: A Wiseman once said that – Prevention is better than cure. This should include planning how to best use every online platform available to you to market your brand and not just jumping on the hottest new trends just because everyone is going for them. As you are doing this, it is also important to monitor them often.
During a crisis, you should have someone on call that can monitor your online reputation, assess the reputation risks of various events and the solution to apply. It does not matter whether the service is outsourced or in-house, they should be in a position to communicate with people and solve more problems that present itself. It is important to know that because social media happens in real-time, customers expect a fast response. In other words, quick response is necessary to avoid many problems relating to negative reviews, especially when to comes to products or services quality, employment information, security or/and customer privacy issues.
Key Reputation Management Techniques Recommended And Applied By Sorensen
1. Owning A Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
As an online marketer, it is important not to rely on a handful of links at the top of a search engine results page for your brand. Take advantage of SERP by working as much as possible on it from the top to the bottom.
2. Being Social
It is important to work on your social media page to improve your brand’s reputation. The truth of the matter is that some of them will be more beneficial to you compared to others. However, you still want to claim your brand name on all the major social networks and update them often. This will prevent others from hijacking your brand name on social media and use it for other things like using them for a bad reputation. It will also give you an upper hand on online presence as well as helping you control more spots in SERP.
Social medias that do well with Google results include: Pinterest, SlideShare, Youtube, Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. It is important to link all social media together.
Blogging is another important way to control online reputation. It is important to buy a domain name that includes the brand name. Later, develop your blogs professionally. Include positive information about the company, support issues, industry trends, and other topics. Blogging attracts more traffic compared to static or the main website; hence helping your reputation.
Creativity is paramount when it comes to reputation management. It also takes creativity to be noticed online. For example, asking your clients or customers to show you how they are using your products through videos for a price is a great to make them royal customers. These videos could help you rank better on search engines.
5. Having An Active PR Strategy
Do not only rely on ‘Company news’ for your press release. As such, it is important to look for a unique way to get your product out there. Sponsor events that may get press. It is important to develop an in-house department to tackle online reputation management issues.
It is possible to do some of the top-level ORM work within a company. Some of these tasks include:
• Public Relations Campaigns
• Social Media Updates
• Content Development
• The Development Of Company’s related sites such as Support Forums and Blogs
However, beyond these, a majority of companies do not have the resources, experience or funding that comes from working on multiple ORM campaigns. Therefore, with an experienced reputation management company, you will be in a position to gain knowledge to handle different situations.
How Is Online Reputation Cost Determined
The truth of the matter is that the cost will vary in relation to the uniqueness of the issues on reputation. When I give my quotes, I consider if the ORM work to be done is reactive or proactive. However, preventive and maintenance measures are generally affordable compared to trying to repair an online reputation problem. I mainly consider the size of the company, the size of work, the particular country they are doing business in and estimated return on investment.
What To Look For When Hiring An Online Reputation Management Professional
A reputable professional should be in a position to provide a satisfactory record of accomplishment. It should include prior records and after results. The first thing to do is ensure all negative publications are pushed down by increasing positive company remarks or reviews. If the firm is selling their products in different countries or multiple countries, it is important to ask to see country specific search engine results.
It is also important to ask for the tactics they will use to improve online reputation. Examples of these tactics include; creating a strong social media presence, SEO, and even public relations campaign.