Learn ORM Step by Step – Online Reputation Management (ORM) deals with everything about your company’s brand in the online community. This community includes the entire web – search engines, forums, blogs, news sites, social networking sites, etc…
There are a lot of misconceptions about online reputation management. Some people think it’s just social media monitoring, while others believe it has something to do with public relations, and still others literally have no idea how it can impact business and sales.
In this guide, I’m going to explain the role of online reputation management in today’s business and media landscape. Companies of every size can benefit from having a clear outline of its main concepts.
Online reputation management – (ORM) is about improving or restoring your name or your brand’s good standing. This is by countering, weakening or eliminating the negative material found in the Internet – defeating it with more positive material to improving your credibility and customers’ trust in you.
Table of Contents
What is Online Reputation Management?
Basically, online reputation management is the process of controlling what shows up when someone Googles your name. We’ll show you how to promote positive content to the top of your search results and push unwanted content (negative, irrelevant or competition) farther down to ensure that when someone Googles you, their results are populated with positive, relevant content about you.
A business’ reputation is arguably its most valuable asset. Marketing is all about brand building. We invest in our brand because we believe it is what will make the business grow and flourish. Once that brand gets a bad reputation, everything about the business gets dramatically affected. Online Reputation Management is all about protecting your brand or cleaning it if things get dirty.
Online Reputation Management is first being mindful of your company’s online brand then building on that brand in the search engines (chances are this is where you are sought for the most) through social media and other websites that produce and disseminate content.
Online Reputation Management is done through a funnel of three main processes:
Being mindful of your company’s online brand (Monitoring)
First and foremost, you have a brand – as the owner and manager of that brand, you have to be mindful about it. Know what’s happening to your brand. Know what’s the latest news about it. Know what people think about it. Where are you mentioned? What are they talking about when your brand is mentioned?
There are tons of tools that you can use in order to monitor your brand in the online world:
This will be your best friend when you’re monitoring your brand online. You can track web results, news, blogs, video results, and groups results. There is no better way to get all of your brand mentions than Google Alerts. ‘Nuff said.
Set up for free to track news by keyword, stocks, local news, feeds and more. Receive notifications via email, Yahoo Messenger or mobile.
Twitter has grown to be one of the best places to monitor your brand in. Almost everyone in the Twitter world retweets content with or without hashtag. The beauty of Twitter search is that it also lets you set-up search parameters such as dates, links, location, sentiment, Twitter account, and more.
Social mention is the social media version of Google Alerts. It helps you monitor your brand in different social platform throughout the web. you can subscribe to the feed, get email alerts or download the Excel file.
Building on that brand (Prevention)
Online Reputation Management extends to these factors connected to you:
- Your Name
- High profile employees
If one of these things get affected by a bad reputation, it would usually spread itself to the others like a festering disease. Protecting your name, company, products and high profile employees are carry less impact compared to your brand (which should almost always be your username). For this tutorial, we will be discussing more about your brand and how to protect it.
BRAND / USERNAME:
This is the best thing you can do in managing your online reputation. Build and build and build and build on your brand. Branding is key to ORM. Surprisingly, it’s also arguably your most powerful asset when it comes to SEO. Building your brand can start from getting all of your brand’s social media usernames. You can find it out using Knowem.
As soon as you know on which social media sites your brand is still available as a username, grab the opportunity to register it there. These accounts are your online licenses to build ‘online real estates’. It will boost the chances of you filling up the first page of your brand SERP if you own powerful social media accounts with your brand as a username.
Some of the key social media accounts you SHOULD get are:
- Facebook profile / page
- Google+ Account / page
If you have these accounts, interlink them with each other and link to them from your blog / website and they should rank really well in the search engines.
SEO is not online reputation management (ORM). Reputation management services definitely include an SEO component. But when it comes to comprehensive ORM campaigns, SEO is far from the whole story. Let’s take a look at the key differences between SEO and ORM.
To the Buyer’s Journey, Batman!
To understand the differences between SEO and ORM, we need to understand the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey consists of three stages:
● Awareness. The buyer can articulate a need or problem but isn’t yet aware of any solutions. She wants to go to southeast Asia but has no idea where to stay or what to do, so she searches for “southeast Asia destinations,” “things to do in southeast Asia,” and maybe even “China destinations” (if she’s feeling specific).
● Consideration. She now knows she has a week to spend and has a budget in mind, but needs to create an itinerary—where to visit, what to do, where to eat. She searches for “what to do in Hong Kong” and “restaurants in Shanghai”
● Decision. The buyer has an itinerary and needs to find specific providers in her destinations: “Hyatt Hong Kong,” “cable car Hong Kong,” “CCTV Tower Shanghai,” and so on.
Online Reputation Bombs
In the online reputation management scenario, there are two types of negative content that companies should be aware of. One is represented by complaints on social networks. They need to be addressed properly, but unless your company has serious problems, they do not pose a real challenge to your business.
The other is what I define as “online reputation bombs,” which affect your reputation and sales long term and can severely damage a business. They are very powerful because, unlike social network content, they are prominent in search engine results. What if someone googles your brand name and finds defamatory content? Let’s see what they are:
- Negative reviews: Review sites allow users to express their opinion on your brand. Did they like your service/product? Would they recommend it? Negative content can affect your sales, and addressing the criticism on the site may not be enough. Websites like Ripoff Report and Pissed Consumer provide the perfect platform for this kind of negative content.
- Hate sites: Some people go beyond simple negative reviews and create ad hoc websites with their opinions, some of them containing illegal content. So-called “hate sites” sometimes address companies and public figures with insults and false information. Needless to say, a search result like “The truth about NAMEOFYOURCOMPANY” or “NAME scam/rip off” will make your potential customers run away!
- Negative media coverage: Phineas T. Barnum used to say “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” That may be true for controversial public figures like Paris Hilton, but many times unfavorable TV, print, and online media coverage impacts negatively on companies and brands.
Should We Call The Cops?
Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
It is obvious that everyone has the right to express their voice about your brand. There are, however, certain boundaries that need to be respected. Some of the negative content online actually is illegal. Why?
- It uses defamatory language
- It reports false information
- It is aimed at damaging the company’s reputation
How do you react to all of this? How do you defend yourself or your company from this kind of illegal behavior? Depending on the scope of the problem, several paths can be pursued in order to restore your online reputation:
- Aggressive SEO: If someone googles your name, appearing on page 1 and 2 of the search results will be much more important than your business card or website. They will show at a glance several high ranking web sources talking about you. If they display false information, the first thing that you or your online reputation management company should do is devise a search marketing strategy that increases the ranking of positive content, owned by either you or third parties. The search engine game is too important to be ignored, and it is the first step in restoring your image.
- Review removal: Did that user claim something false about your company? Is that review clearly aimed at destroying your reputation rather than providing feedback? Does it contain improper language? Legal liaison and speed of reaction will make it possible to remove the negative review.
- Online investigations: In case of serious attacks to your brand image, it may be necessary to hire skilled online analysts to investigate untraceable threats and attackers via email tracing, data cross-indexing, and other information collection techniques. Cyber investigations are the definitive path to get to the bottom of difficult reputation management cases.
Online Reputation Management (ORM) tends to target people peforming due diligence for a brand, product or person. SEO tends to target people looking for a kind of product, service or information.
An example of the differences between SEO and ORM: You search for a widget online and find a lot of companies selling them. But which is best? Your second search is about the companies that make the widget so you can make the right choice. SEO works to get a brand into search results in the first place. ORM works to help a customer go with one widget or the other.
Another key difference is that SEO generally tries to push a single website up in search results for a given set of search phrases. But ORM works to push five, ten or many more different websites and social media properties up in search results. ORM works to change all search results, SEO usually focuses on only one.
ORM deals with many different kinds of sites and considers the entire ecosystem of web properties, SEO does too, but usually in the service of pushing only one domain up in search results.
Get a Blog
Another great way to prevent bad reputation webpages from ranking as your brand is to create and maintain a blog. Search engines love blogs. That’s enough for you to know that you SHOULD get a blog for yourself in order for you to rank well and to have that powerful leverage for your brand that you can flexibly use whenever there is any newly published bad reputation out there.
There are a lot more reasons why you should have a blog for your company – you can publish company news, establish a readership, promote products and services, etc…
We will be discussing more about ORM Prevention methods in the next lessons of this tutorial.
Fixing any damaging content to your brand (Cleaning)
Once the damage is done and you don’t have any ammo to fire back, here’s what you need to immediately do:
- Hire an ORM consultant
- Contact the owner of the bad reputation site and humbly ask if he/she can put it down
- If it is against the law, contact any possibly concerned government body and ask them for help to bring it down
- Ask Google to de-index it if there are any elements in the page against Google’s guidelines
If all of those are not an option for you, start with getting all those powerful social media accounts and create a network of links to them using your website. Start a blog and interlink that blog with those social accounts and with your main website. It will take more time for these to rank – and most probably the damage will already be done by then.
ORM work is mostly about establishing that bullet-proof reputation in the web by getting all the possible ‘real estate accounts’ you can for your brand.
The Basic Principles of ORM
Online reputation management is a holistic, long-term process that builds on the basic principles of SEO to improve your online image in its totality, and in sustained fashion.
Unlike basic SEO, ORM isn’t quite as concerned with using positive content on your personal website to push down negative search results found elsewhere. ORM revolves around the creation and promotion of positive content, both on branded web properties like your corporate website, blog and social media pages, and on external properties that link back to your main websites and exist specifically for reputation management purposes. With ORM we are working to improve the impression of a brand online, not so much sell products and services.
Fortresses of Authority
By creating a dense network of positive, relevant content that reaches far beyond yo
ur main website, ORM establishes a “fortress of authority” around your company, brand or core service. It positions you as a thought leader in your industry—an established, legitimate resource that inspires trust and attracts consumers in the later stages of the buyer’s journey like the Consideration Stage and Decision Stage.
Your fortress of authority doesn’t simply push negative entries down to the second or third (or even lower) pages of your search results page. (We call this “suppression.”) It de-legitimizes those results entirely, crowding them out of your prospects’ minds with more engaging and relevant information.
Expanding Your Sphere of Influence
Reputable online reputation management companies don’t just focus on web properties controlled by their clients. These firms recognize that even the most influential subjects need a little help to get their message across. A core component, then, is outreach to people and entities that control influential websites and blogs relevant to what you do. If you own a restaurant, for example, you might place guest posts and targeted promotions on foodie blogs or in the lifestyle section of your local newspaper.
ORM also requires both close attention to your social media accounts and enthusiastic social media outreach to influencers in your industry. Building a dedicated social following, especially if you have the right followers, can do wonders for your reputation and visibility. The key to driving the right traffic is hashtags.
“Online reputation management sometimes utilizes what might be considered hardball tactics that fall outside the purview of traditional SEO.”
And last, but by no means least, online reputation management sometimes utilizes what might be considered hardball tactics that fall outside the purview of traditional SEO. If your business lives and dies by reviews on influential online publications and directory sites like Yelp, you need to monitor such sites carefully and address negative entries. Though U.S. law gives publishers wide latitude to say what they want, online reputation management companies can help you respond forcefully—using the courts if necessary—when reviewers or third parties cross the line and post defamatory remarks, copyrighted content or incriminating material on sites you don’t control.
Online Reputation Management: More Than SEO
Quick quiz: Which of the following defines online reputation management?
● It’s a long-term process that produces demonstrable results
● It targets buyers in the consideration and decision stages, not the awareness stage
● It covers multiple websites, including those not directly owned or controlled by the subject
● It covers the content found on social media sites and review sites
● It involves outreach to and coordination with many different parties
● It may use legal or other means to target content on external sites
How to Protect
our online reputation simply is your reputation. In the digital era, nothing is protecting you from criticism anymore. This is good from a freedom of speech perspective; bad if your company has been defamed and attacked.
To conclude, ten practical tips that sum up what we have covered in this guide. The world of brand reputation will change in the coming years, but following these simple “commandments” definitely will benefit you and your brand:
1. Become well respected
According to several business experts, trust is a perishable asset and it is hard to gain. Making people respect you and your work is more important than any other online reputation management commandment.
2. Be radically transparent
After years of hiding critics, Mc Donald’s publicly forced egg suppliers to raise hens’ living standards according to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals request.
3. Monitor what they are saying about you
Apart from the aforementioned reasons to monitor your online reputation, social media monitoring also can bring business! These days, lots of people ask questions via Twitter and Facebook because they are evaluating whether or not they should buy from you.
4. React quickly and politely
In case of a customer complaint via Twitter, for example, a prompt and simple “We are aware of the problem. We are working on it and will get back to you as soon as possible.” is better than a late reply with more information.
5. Address criticism
In 2009, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s WSJ op-ed on Obama healthcare reform caused a controversy among WF customers. Two days later, the company provided a response statement recognizing there were “many opinions on this issue, including inside our own company” and invited people to share their opinion on the matter.
6. Treat your Google page 1 as your business card
First impressions count, and we do judge many books by their cover. If the words “scam” and “rip off” are associated with your brand, then that is something you should worry about.
7. Understand your detractors
Criticism can be the chance to learn more about your audience and craft a better message in the future. Motrin’s controversial “baby wearing moms” commercialsparked a lot of criticism. It did not come from competitors or illegitimate attackers, but from people in Motrin’s target audience who felt offended by their promotional content.
8. Attack your illegitimate attackers
Sometimes we simply have to fight illegal behavior. In 2009, Domino’s Pizza employees who posted disgusting videos of themselves playing with food were fired and arrested. Another example is people who post false information on the internet. Sometimes, if you don’t sue them, they might do it again.
9. Learn from your mistakes
Sony certainly learned a reputation management lesson back in 2005. The company placed copy protection (XCD) on its CDs which created computer vulnerabilities that malware could exploit. Instead of being upfront about their mistake, Sony stonewalled criticism and lost millions in class-action lawsuits.
10. Ask for help if necessary
If your online reputation management efforts are not enough to protect or restore your brand image, you have the choice to request help from a professional.