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Online reputation management (ORM) is the practice of crafting strategies that shape or influence the public perception of an organization, individual or other entity on the Internet. It helps drive public opinion about a business and its products and services.

By using ORM, a company may try to mitigate the effects of a negative viral video, create proactive marketing strategies for online consumption or broaden its domain holdings to ramp up online visibility.

One broad ORM philosophy is using positive material to counteract, balance or “push” negative material. An example is using online content to influence Google’s search engine results pages (SERP). Because the first SERP page can hold only a finite number of results, some successful ORM projects include generating large amounts of positive content about a company or entity. Other ORM campaigns involve multichannel strategies, including email, social media and website projects.

Reputation handlers can build extensive website projects to distribute text, video or other elements, or use social media analytics to determine a company’s status before engaging in products that influence reputation on a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter.

Social media management has become a major ORM element because many users participate in the most popular social media platforms and because of features that quickly help create significant changes in a company’s online reputation.

Wikipedia’s definition does cover the primary goal of reputation management—which is to suppress any negativity directed towards your company—however, with corporate transparency and user-generated content becoming an integral part of any business’ marketing efforts, it is no longer sufficient to just block spammy and hateful comments.

Long gone is the age of direct advertising where companies sell their products or services to a passive audience—now it is all about engaging with your customers, listening to what they have to say, and learning/growing as a result. Therefore, it’s important to manage what is being said about your business online.

So what does ‘reputation management’ actually involve?

  • Addressing criticism publicly
  • Publicly asking for feedback
  • Allowing employees to engage with your audience
  • Speaking with your audience directly

Online reputation management is not just about reacting well to what people say about your company, but knowing whether to react at all, and if so, when. Use the questions and examples above to help craft your plan, and once you are ready to go fully transparent, find yourself a tool such as Google Alerts or Moz Pro’s Brand Mention checker to keep on top of the conversation around your brand.

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