Online Reputation Management: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?

September 24, 2020

We know that your business works hard to keep your customers happy. You work relentlessly to develop new products and features to meet your customers’ needs and connect with each of them individually. But even with the best customer service, your company is bound to see its reputation come under fire every now and again. 

Maybe a customer posts an angry review for the whole internet to see. Or a less than flattering article in the media beyond what you had expected. That’s where online reputation management comes in. 

By taking an active role in managing your reputation, you can minimize potential negative customer feedback and keep your online presence as positive as possible.

What is online reputation management?

Online reputation management, or ORM, is when you actively monitor mentions of your brand on websites and social media in order to address negative or false comments. 

ORM works both by responding to negative customer reviews and comments online, as well as reacting to social and traditional stories in the media that paint your company in a bad light. For example, you may release a statement to the public addressing the content of the story or create a social media post in response.

How is reputation management different from public relations?

Public relations, or PR, and online reputation management both have the same goal: portray the company is the best light possible. The main difference is how each achieves that goal.

Many PR firms are focused on external work, such as through promotional media efforts or pitching stories to journalists. These efforts are mostly proactive in that they strengthen brand reputation, as opposed to minimizing attacks on companies. However, there are some dedicated crisis management PR firms out there. 

Online reputation management, on the other hand, is more often focused on reactive efforts. It consists of keeping an eye out for and responding to potentially damaging content from other people or companies. ORM work is sometimes handled internally by brands, and often by engaging an external firm with expertise in that arena.

Why you should manage your online reputation

Often, a brand will take on small attacks on their reputation- a negative comment here, a low star rating there. None of these posts may require a full-scale counter PR campaign, but they can certainly add up quickly. 

Online reputation management takes care of various little fires before they can gather strength into a major blaze causing serious reputational damage. ORM also helps your company to maintain transparency, a vital ingredient of brand loyalty in 2020. This allows your business to combat negative claims by addressing them directly and openly.

While there can still be room for an orchestrated PR campaign, consumers today are often seeking organic interactions with the companies with whom they do business. They want to hear directly with personalized interactions, such as direct messages or comments on Instagram, Twitter and other platforms.

Five Online Reputation Management Strategies to Use

  1. Respond promptly and with empathy. Sometimes the best ORM occurs even before a negative comment or review is posted. If a customer messages you directly or posts on social media, then you should respond quickly.  As important as responding is doing so with empathy. Let the customer know that you are invested in solving their problem and there to help. 
  2. Confront negativity directly. While it can be tempting to discount negative reviews, this only sends the message that you don’t care. Be sure to address customer concerns with patience and determination. Show them that even if they have an issue with your company, you are still there to make it right. 
  3. Own up when you make a mistake. It almost always helps to apologize if your company is facing scrutiny for a scandal. Being honest and transparent and showing remorse will not only defuse tense situations, but also strengthen your relationship with consumers. Directly address concerns or the criticism you face; describe what you are going to do to resolve the situation. 
  4. Be aware of your search results. SEO is not only a way to keep your brand visible, but also an essential tool to minimize negative press and content associated with your brand. Brands use Google ads to bid for the chance to show up first in search results, as well as organic SEO work to ensure potential customers can find you. Positive feedback on ranking review sites is another way to improve search results. Encourage happy customers to leave reviews for prospective buyers to see. 
  5. Automate Online Reputation Management. You can save yourself the time spent manually combing through websites and social media reviews by using software that automates ORM. Google Alerts and other media monitoring tools are simple ways to track who is talking about you or your company. 

Online Reputation Management is a great way to strengthen a positive image of your brand and have more control over how consumers view your company. 

Evan Nierman, Founder and CEO of Red Banyan possesses 20 years of high-level experience in public relations, marketing, crisis management, online media, international relations and public affairs. Throughout his career, he has provided strategic communications counsel to top business leaders, government officials and presidential candidates, and private individuals.