Among topics trending in the digital, social media and public relations worlds is ‘online reputation management.’ Nowadays, search engines can provide us with almost anything we’re looking for, helped by the proliferation of blogs, chat forums, social media networks and media sharing websites. These are all excellent platforms for those who want to express their opinions and share feedback, whether positive or negative.
Search visibility and word of mouth are now so influential, that tackling online reputation management has become a top priority for today’s CEOs and top management executives. Until now, much of senior management has remained blissfully unaware of what is being said about their brand online, especially when negative news is being spread.
Online Marketing has helpfully outlined the key considerations for dealing with search and online reputation management issues. Judging by the growth rate of social media channels like Facebook, which registers around 10 million users a month in terms of new social communication tools, the impact of social media on corporate, brand and consumer reputations is not going to diminish anytime soon. Companies like H&R Block and Zappos have recognized this and employ vast community management teams, enabling them to address almost every concern they come across by constantly engaging and tapping into what is being said on Twitter.
On the other hand, there are several companies such as Dell, Walmart and Sony, who were slow to recognize the influence of social media channels and search results, and their effect on their brands’ reputation. Having suffered the consequences of this oversight, they were spurred into action and have since become role models for how companies can engage customers on the social web. Indeed, any company that is publishing content online or has customers engaging with content online, should be making concerted efforts to improve online reputation management.
The moral of the story is that companies should be proactive rather than reactive in their efforts to manage online reputation. Acting solely in response to negatives reviews or comments is not enough; by the time a decent website ranking has been achieved, the competition will be way ahead. Staying ahead of the game is crucial in the competitive online arena, and companies should be working to effectively manage their online reputation at all times.
A proactive and SEO-centric approach to online reputation management involves monitoring both search listings and social media, optimizing and promoting content across diverse channels (rather than in just your own domain name), and analyzing the results of your efforts to pave the way for further improvements.