Trust is dead and skepticism has taken over; at least, that’s how most online consumers feel. Would you trust a car dealership with 10 negative reviews, or how about a doctor with even one negative comment? Nearly 87 percent of consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by word of mouth, and online reviews, so if you’re trying to sell a product or service, or even an idea, it’s best to be armed with a reputation management guide to manage the wild wild west of the internet where anybody can post anything they want about you without letting the website owner being held liable thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The reality is, the lasting impact of any toxic comments or complaints will ultimately kill your pageviews.
Proactively Protecting Your Good Name
An online presence that is dynamic can be both a blessing and a curse. Challenges will follow, and this can become volatile at times, since anyone can share their views and opinions about your business, with very few boundaries. Forums, blogs, Yelp, and especially social media networks, can at times, spiral out of control, thus negatively impacting your online reputation. Even so, there are plenty of strategies to fortify your good name.
First, let’s start with a few tactical suggestions:
Begin with some market research. Where are your customers holding the conversations, and what are they saying about you? Gather the information and get a sense of the overall perception. Figure out the data your customers need most, and what will be most valuable to them. This will give you insight into what content needs to be distributed.
Develop high end editorial content. Only a few higher end reputation management services allow you to release content online on websites that are relevant to your niche. The Miami, Florida based Reputation Management Company says that it’s crucial to your brands success to create content that Google wants and sees as white hat. If you deliver high end quality content then it will rank high in the search results and play a crucial role in your online reputation management strategy.
Start a blog, and always have a convenient link back to relevant information. This will not only help you build internal and external links, which will boost your Google ranking, but build your authority on a subject, and keep loyal followers coming back. Another great service is Brand Yourself, which was recently, featured on the hit ABC show The Shark Tank. This service allows you to track and create free profiles and is a great way to get started with an ORM strategy.
Here are a few strategies that help with personal as well as corporate branding;
You have to start by building an online reputation. The majority of people focus solely on the big Social 5. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+, yet there are hundreds of social media networks that grab the attention of the online community. Many of these sites are also worthy of Google’s first page, which will boost your visibility. You also want to buy your own real estate — purchase your domain names before others can.
Social Networks. They have become the paradigm of communication for companies and brands. Not only because this type of media is part of the trends and habits of consumers but it is through these channels companies can network on a more personal level wtih consumers, and take notes on what’s being said about them on a day-to-day basis. While 87 percent of consumers are relying on online reviews before making a purchase, 71 percent of those consumers are influenced by social media recommendations. Social networks have become one of the most useful resouces for companies but they can also be a main threat if your attention is not on the management and monitoring of what’s being posted.
Create New Conversations. Every company should focus on creating, publishing and distributing updated content for a target audience, which is the goal of reaching new customers, right? People go online for information, and it’s your job to deliver. At the end of the day, when you deliver content, you are in control of public perception. Fresh content delivers your message, but more importantly, you are controlling the conversation.
Also, marketing has the mission of increasing traffic, accessibility and visibility. When done right, your content can build on engagement phrases and attract new conversations. Allow consumers to know what to expect when they buy from you, and then give them a reason a talk about it. Align your words with your target audience’s desires and needs, and you will easily create overwhelming results.
Tell A Story for Damage Control. The public feeds on news, and good PR tells a good story. The better the story, the more reception it attracts, thus, the higher it moves up on Google. It’s not promotion or advertising, but newsworthy content to keep the public informed. At times businesses may feel there isn’t anything new or exciting to distribute, but keep in mind, clever writing is a vehicle for inform, educate, and entertain. Press release can also be used to dilute negative information by competing with online rants.
The Gold Standard of Content – Reviews. These can have a huge impact on your reputation, and become a double-edged sword. When their good, their and back, it can wreck havoc on your brand. Surveys say customer reviews can increase website traffic by as much as 75 percent. On the flip side, Deloitte Consumer Product Group says when researching products, 99 percent of respondents believe the information posted is somewhat credible. You can handle negative comments by asking customers to leave a review, and it doesn’t always have to be after a purchase.
Upload a whitepaper, or post free product testings, and ask clients to post a review.
Develop Quality Videos. More than 5 billion Youtube videos are watched everyday. The online video boom offers a golden opportunity. Not only does Google rank Youtube videos very highly, but it doesn’t take much to reach the first page of the search engine. Without having to hire actors, appear in front of a camera, or even spending any money, you could create an advertising medium that entertains, inspires, and more importantly, influence the public’s perception. Videos are psychologically mesmerizing and it’s a compelling way to pull in web traffic.
Burying Negative News. Cleaning up negative news can be challeging and time-consuming, and most likely, you’ll hire a reputation management company to eliminate the problem. The reality is, repairing a bad reputation requires an overwhelming amount of web collateral, complimented by SEO marketing tactics. The tactics require a diversity of content distributed throughout high-ranking external sites to boost visibility of your name, while de-ranking the negative content.
An Inconvenient Truth
Unfortunately, your online reputation is not reflective of the complete truth about anyone; it’s incomplete. It may show dated and prejudicial data; it could reflect incorrect statements and exaggerations of the truth. It may spotlight on one inconsequential episode, rather than an aggregate story of your life. It may even be based on complete lies. The bottom line is that your online reputation is probably not a good reflection of the whole story.
People search online and make quick decisions. Studies show that web surfers decide within 5 seconds whether they’re interested in what they see or if they want to move on. In other words, people do not take time to slowly research all possible information before making a decision. Instead, in less than 3 minutes, people make snap decisions about who to hire, fire, befriend, buy from, or banish from their circle.
Your online reputation can become the most prominent information about you. Do not assume hiring managers, or family, or even friends won’t quickly search the web to weed out any obvious flaws. They may investigate further, or simply make their final judgment about you on the basis of the information at first glance. Just keep in mind that you have the ability to change the information online.
Finally, anonymous attacks are submitted online everyday, and the only way to combat the damage is replacing it with positive influential material. The biggest mistake is believing you can’t do anything. You have the power to shape the outcome of your online reputation by being cognizant of all the proactive measures you can take, and making them work for you.