Online reputation management: is your online image the one you really want?

Back in the days, words such as “reputation”, “honour” and “glory” were things you’d be duelling for.

Nowadays, longswords are no longer that popular, and reputation is actually a measurement of how effective your business is being marketed.

That is right: instead of stabbing people who dishonour you and marrying those who love you, Online Reputation Management (ORM) teaches you how to monitor those people to create better content for a better business solution.

Remember: image is everything.

Every message you say, every word you speak and every breath you take shapes the world of those around you.

The five commandments of Online Reputation Management

#1: You can control your image

Rule number one of Online Reputation Management is simple: what you post online, what people think of you, what your employees say and, of course, what your impact on the world is CAN be controlled.

How? Through the second commandment, you can control your actions.

#2: You can control your actions

Take a long look at what message your business is delivering.

Are your products ethically sourced, or are they the outcome of overworked, underpaid employees or even worse, forced labour overseas? 

Are your employees revealing to the world the shady business practices you do behind closed doors? Talking about your employees, how do you treat them? Are they allowed a life outside your business, or do you expect them to devote their entire existence to your goals?

The second commandment of ORM can be summarised as the concept of karma: ORM is essentially the results of your own actions as well as the actions themselves.

Reap what you saw. Those negative reviews often mean something.

#3: You can’t control word of mouth…

Word of mouth. The most powerful marketing tool on earth.

How often did you buy a product because a friend or family suggested it? I know I did, and the thousands I have spent on stuff I didn’t need just because I wanted to keep up with the trends definitely won’t be coming back.

Word of mouth is not something you can control.

You can delete negative reviews of your channels and try to force people to think goodly of you with PR campaigns, but most definitely, what people really think of you is not something you can control.

So give people a reason to speak highly of you. 

Unfortunately, it’s inevitable that people will speak poorly of you as you grow, for one reason or another. Controlling hundreds of employees is extremely difficult, if not outright impossible, so it’s inevitable that you’ll run into negative reviews.

Never take those complaints lightly.

#4: …But you can buy it.

Online Reputation is something that gets people talking about you. Ads, sponsors, influencers, guest posts and targeted ads are all things that can influence your online reputation.

Influencers are a great example of how reputation can be built with advertisement. Here’s a classic example.

Notice how this reads as a person just sharing their admiration for a product, rather than an advertisement. Of course, the average person wouldn’t touch anything the Kardashians have been in the proximity of, but nonetheless, this is a great example of reputation management and its correlation with ads.

Rather than using ads, having people praising your products is an excellent and cost-effective marketing strategy

It’s 2022. Word of mouth can’t be controlled, but it can be bought.

It takes ten years to build a good reputation. Only one second to ruin it.

#5: It's very easy to destroy a reputation

Let me be poetic for a second.

Every message you say, every word you speak and every breath you take shapes the world of those around you, at that moment. 

Every business is built on relationships. Relationship with your clients, with your audience, with your employees, etc…

If one of those relationships goes sour, what will be the ripple effect on your business? One strongly worded message is enough for a client to cancel a lucrative contract and go to a competitor that will use this newfound weakness against you.

It takes ten years to build a good reputation. Only one second to ruin it.

Before you click send on any message, trust your gut instinct.

Online Reputation Management tips

Incentivise reviews

“Leave us a five stars review!”, says every single app ever downloaded through Google Play, every restaurant, every grocery store, everything that you can find online.

Reviews are the best indicator of Online Reputation and one of the key strategies of every local SEO campaign. Thousands and thousands of people leaving five stars are a sign that the business is trustworthy and the products are worth their hard-earned money.

So it’s only obvious you should strive to obtain as many of those shiny golden stars as possible. 

But wait, why only rely on the kindness of their hearts, when you can motivate people to leave you a good review online?

First thing first, you should be asking them for a review after a while they have used your product. The more they use it, the more likely it is they’ll leave you a positive note online. 

Remember that email marketing is an asset in this case, as it allows you to calculate the effectiveness of your requests, which you can then also follow up on.

Then, why not give them something in return for a positive review? A small discount, a token of appreciation, or even a handwritten thank you note.

Just remember to target satisfied customers when requesting a review. It can be hard to understand which customers are satisfied and which ones aren’t, but as a rule of thumb, you should look into customers who keep returning to your websites to buy new products or read the new content.

Targeting is essential since you obviously don’t want people to leave more negative reviews than necessary.

Recommended read: Is SEO worth it for your small business?

Use brand monitoring tools

Brand monitoring tools keep track of people who mention you or your brand/products on social media. The data is then processed and delivered to you in a friendly format that helps you understand whether or not you are having a positive or negative influence, and how your online reputation is being handled on social media.

These tools are quintessential to a good PR campaign, as they let you scout the entirety of social media so that you can see every complaint and praise. Google Alerts, for example, is a simple and effective tool that will send you a notification every time someone uses a specific keyword online. 

Google Alerts is free, but comes with some downsides such as the lack of advanced statistics or the inability to generate user-friendly reports.

Google Alerts

PR campaigns

Publicity is good for reputation, and vice-versa. That is one of the five commandments of ORM. 

But what is publicity, if not a way to get people to talk about you?

Red Bull is one of the best examples for amazing PR campaigns out there. To promote themselves, they make people do crazy things that could kill them  (pretty much).

Jokes aside, the publicists at Red Bull are absolutely insane. I don’t know how much money it would take to convince me to wingsuit through two very tight rocks at 160 kmh, but clearly, it was enough to convince Jeb Corliss, who did the stunt back in 2013.

No, you don’t have to put people in life or death scenarios for good PR. Actually, it’s normally a very bad thing, but the point remains:

  • People that manage to achieve impressive feats go viral over the internet. It can be something like picking up thousands of pounds of trash off the oceans or give back to the community. 
  • It can be something over the top, like Golden Palace buying a sandwich for 28 thousand dollars, or Tesla throwing a car into space. 
  • PR works very well when combined with an SEO strategy. People talk about you, share your content and fall in love with you.

Create the right content for your business

Social media posts and blogs are tools meant to be shared with other people, which builds word of mouth and increases brand mentions, vital signs of good PR and a strong online reputation. Your online reputation is therefore influenced by what you choose to upload on the Internet. The message you are delivering needs to be consistent throughout your actions. For example, should you be a business whose main selling point is its eco-friendly products, it’s only smart that you should be heavily supporting any and all campaigns that help the environment, and the content you share online should be educating people about the environment and how switching to your products will help it. Don’t forget that any action that goes against your message will bomb your credibility. For example, Nestle’s goal to make Kitkats 100% sustainable isn’t as big of an achievement as you think it is, since the corporation is also notorious for its scandals that include human trafficking, illegal depletion of water sources and killing babies.

Underpromise, over-deliver

Imagine you are dating someone and you tell them you are a billionaire that lives in a mansion, has five cars, three horses, twenty butlers and hangs out with the likes of Bill Gates for dinner every now and then.

But when you take your date home, you show them a comfortable three-bedroom house you bought with your own money.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with your house, and having a three-bedroom place is actually pretty neat, but your date will leave regardless because their expectations were set to be so much higher, and you just couldn’t match them.

Now, think of the opposite.

You are secretly an ultra-rich person that pretends to be the average Joe so that you can match with people based on their chemistry, and when you take them home, you do end up showing them your mansion, your five cars and three horses.

Which one of these two scenarios will get you a second date? Which one would your date prefer to discover?

Exactly.

Add bonus features to your product, such as free memberships, discounts or even a freebie that comes with an order exceeding “X” amount, but don’t advertise these add-ons.

These delightful discoveries will get your customer to take a picture of your product, send it to their friends and share it online. And there they’ll say that you have underpromised on your products and over-delivered.

Take action when bad reviews pop up

No complaint should ever be taken lightly.

Chances are, if someone is making a reasonable complaint, thousands of other people are thinking the same thing and just not telling you.

Prices too high, slow website speed, poor delivery options…

Things that can go wrong are just about limitless, and it’s your job to make sure your customer has a great time until the product is safely in their hands.

Negative reviews can grow your business. By addressing the source of complaints and showing the audience you have dealt with it in a professional manner, you are effectively building trust with your audience and increasing their engagement with them since you proved to them that they can talk to you and you’ll understand their point of view, which builds a sense of security.

Mistakes and failures are something you can celebrate.

Conclusion

Reputation Management is a multi-faced aspect of your business. It can be an asset and an enemy.

Topflight offers a digital PR service to help you get your foot in the door. Sure, we won’t be tossing anything into space for you, but getting the wheel turning can be a challenge we will overcome for you.

After that, what is your dream PR stunt? Contact us and let us know!

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