To put it simply, your online reputation describes what people say and see about your business when they’re browsing online. People have always been free to say and think whatever they like about a business. But the digital age has given rise to review aggregator websites, giving customer feedback a lot more weight and influence – even creating an entirely new profession in the process.
Online reputation management (ORM) gives you the chance to counteract the negative feedback that you receive. In this article, we’ll give you some ideas about how to do so…
What is ORM?
ORM describes the active approach a business will take to manage the general consensus using four separate marketing channels.
Paid media, earned media, social media and owner properties are all marketing channels that a business will use to manage the general public opinion surrounding their company online.
ORM is effective at helping a business damaging opinions and content further down SERPs by ranking their own or third-party content higher. Why is this important? Because the top 5 listings on a search engine results page receive up to 70% of all clicks! The focus of ORM is about cultivating and retaining a positive company image.
1. Assess Your Current Online Reputation
First of all, you need to determine the general consensus around your current reputation. Asking your friends, family members and a list of past and current clients would be a good start.
What do these people think about your business? Make a note of whether your feedback contains positive reviews or negative comments to find out if your current reputation resonates with your long-term goals.
2. Create a Posting Policy
A posting policy explains who can or can’t speak for your company online, creating guidelines for personal conduct and protecting your employees and your business’ sensitive information.
Putting a strict system of rules and regulations in place for your employees may seem authoritarian, but the ramifications of poor judgment can have long-term effects. Here’s what your social media policy should outline:
- Sensitive data should never be shared with the public.
- Professionalism applies to all facets of your published content.
- Members of staff shouldn’t post content that is associated with your business without pre-approval.
- You should have the right to edit or delete potentially damaging or controversial content.
3. Design a Content Strategy
A content strategy gives your business a focussed blueprint regarding the subjects, topics, media type, creation and implementation of your content. Within the context of ORM, a social media content strategy will stop damaging content from being posted while at the same time promoting content that is positive. Here’s how to do it.
a. Social Media Research (Goals, Platforms, Competitors)
Researching your social media goals, desired platforms and competitors is fairly straightforward. Do you want to increase sales or engagement? Is Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat the best option for your chosen goal? Which social networks do your niche competitors use to achieve their goals and is it worth taking ideas from? The answers to these questions will provide you with the foundations for your strategy.
b. Research Content Ideas with Schedule and Audience
Have a look at what your competitors are posting for inspiration. The posts with the most engagement should give you an idea of what steps to take. A content schedule will help streamline your posting obligations and help you to keep track of what is going on. Finally, you need to respect your audience. This means replying to as much as their comments as possible to increase engagement and loyalty.
4. Maintain a Blog to Enhance Your Reputation
Publishing your own content through the maintenance of a regular blog is highly recommended. Not only will this provide you with the opportunity to create additional links that rank high on SERPs, but also it will push your undesirable content further down the list.
Here is a list of techniques you should implement in your blog writing:
- Keyword research
- Optimize your headings and subheadings
- Write for readability rather than for search engines
- Include high-quality images
- Use Google Analytics to understand your user behaviour
- Include a comment section on each blog post
Keyword research and optimizing your headings and subheadings are crucial to the blog writing process when we consider search engine optimization (SEO). It’s important that the keywords appear naturally in the text, and you can create several blog posts about different topics in your niche to target as many relevant keywords as possible.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that will help you to determine whether the reader is enjoying your content or not. Metrics such as bounce rate, page views and time spent on the page will give you a good understanding. A comment section gives the reader the ability to provide a direct response, which should always be responded to in turn from the writer.
Understanding the basics of ORM is only the first step. ORM is an active process that requires constant checks and maintenance to ensure your business is heading in the right direction, and that your brand is being positively perceived. The four marketing channels that we discussed (paid media, earned media, owned properties and social media) are your foundations for building a strong reputation online. Make sure you pay close attention to each one!