Business reputation management has become a hot issue in doing business, but the concept is not new. Reputation management has always been a part of public relations, and businesses have always made it a priority to protect their good standing. However, with the advent of the internet, business reputation management has suddenly become a much bigger task than it used to be. It has spawned the new business of online reputation management that no company can afford to ignore.
The exposure of a business to both positive and negative publicity has increased dramatically because of the tendency of online consumers to actively participate in social networks and blogs. Traditionally, businesses only had to worry about providing professional media reporters with the right information to disseminate to the public. Media professionals knew to check on facts and information before publishing anything. This included announcements, press releases, interviews, and news
Pros and Cons of the Internet
However, the internet has given the power of dissemination to the general public, and they have been very proactive about using this power. This is both a boon and a bane for companies seeking to grow their business by increasing their exposure and cultivating awareness. It is a boon because it has never been easier or cheaper for businesses to market their brand to a global audience. It no longer matters if a business is small; as long as they have a marketing expert who knows buyer psychology and the various tools available, they could effectively promote their business.
The internet is also a bane because businesses now have to worry about more than a handful of media professionals. They now have to contend with millions of online consumers, many of whom could just as easily rant as rave about a company, which could affect the online reputation and sales of the business.
Online consumers are notoriously impressionable. They tend to believe what they see on the internet, and a majority of them let negative reviews from strangers influence their buying decisions. This is obviously an issue of concern for businesses, and many address this by employing reputation management strategies.
Reputation Management for Business
Reputation management may be done in-house, but many businesses hire a resolution management company or consultant to handle this task. Essentially, business reputation management is focused around two tasks: monitor and defend. Reputation managers keep their ear to the ground to detect, identify, and analyze any new content that may appear on the internet that has connections to the business or the brand. This process has no end point. As long as consumers participate online, there will always be a constant need for monitoring. Reputation managers also employ strategies to encourage positive comments, feedback, and reviews while countering negative content.
Reputation managers typically use and target Google for search engine optimization (SEO), data analytics, and reputation management strategies. This is because most people use a search engine to find pertinent information about products, services, companies, and people, and Google is currently the largest and most effective search engine on the internet. When a search is made for a particular business on Google, the top results are usually the ones that will have the greatest influence on the subsequent behavior of the searcher.
For example, if an individual wants to see where to get Brand X products, a search is made for “Brand X” and results are shown. If the first 5 or 6 results show positive content for Brand X such as the pursuit of a happy client, then this is good. However, if the first entry talks about how Brand X does not work and no one should buy it, the business has a big problem.
Negative search engine results can have a big impact on public perceptions. A business may see one or more of the following if their online reputation is mostly negative:
- Lost sales
- Lower employee morale
- Discouraged investors
- A drop in the price of their stock
Businesses simply cannot afford to have an unfavorable online reputation. Ignoring these negative reviews and articles would be tantamount to self-destruction. Fortunately, there are several strategies an experienced reputation manager (or a reputation management company) can use to address these issues.
Strategies for Online Brand Reputation Management
As mentioned earlier, reputation managers focus mainly on Google. Reputation management strategies that address negative search engine results on Google include the following:
- Pushing down negative search engine results by flooding the internet with good reviews, positive feedback, and current news and information
- Targeting influencers for online promotions
- Filing a lawsuit to force sites to remove libelous posts or comments
- Cultivating authority sites to increase exposure though back links
- Actively participating in popular social networks
- Creating websites to increase awareness of a company’s brands
- Addressing issues raised in negative reviews and poor feedback in a constructive manner
- Using spam bots or denial-of-service software to target sites that contain undesirable content
- Guest blogging
- Improving search engine optimization (SEO) by increasing the quantity and quality of website content
The Internet Can Be Friend or Foe
The effectiveness of business reputation management depends on if a business owner believes that a poor online presence has a significant impact on commercial success. Many experienced business professionals are unable to keep up with the changes that have rapidly overtaken the commercial sector because of the internet. They realize that the internet has opened up great potential for growth and expansion because of its open communication infrastructure and global reach. However, these advantages come at a price.
It is important to remember that the online reputation of a business is only as good as its last review or article. Unfortunately, not all content, reviews, or blogs, are created in good faith, and it would be a mistake to presume that the typical customer will check on the facts before making a decision. Many accept what they see or read at face value and consider themselves informed.
No business can afford to ignore the importance of an effective reputation management campaign, and it is never too late to create a management plan. However, do not wait until negative reviews start coming in. Consult with a reputation management company specializing in business reputation management as soon as possible to have strategies in place to deal with negative search engine results.
For affordable pricing on your business's reputation management campaign, call 503-890-6663. We are experts in the field.