Imagine a scenario where, upon looking into the corporate 'mirror', a company doesn't see its authentic values and achievements but rather a reflection shaped by online perceptions. Similarly, an individual might see not their own likeness, but an image constructed from online opinions. It might prompt an immediate, "That's not who we are!" or "That's not me!" Yet, to the external world, this altered representation is accepted as reality.
Reputation management, both for individuals and companies, is about ensuring that this 'digital mirror' offers a true-to-life reflection. Like an individual prepping for a pivotal event or a company unveiling a flagship product, the aim is to ensure that every aspect of the digital presence — be it personal or corporate — is curated, genuine, and resonates with the true ethos and identity. It's a commitment to being the master curator of one's own narrative, ensuring stakeholders and peers see the authentic version, not just a perception.
With that in mind, we sat down with Status Labs’ Reputation Management Expert Michael Garcia to answer some of the more frequently asked questions about online reputation management.
How would you define online reputation management?
Online Reputation Management is the proactive or reactive approach to shaping the public’s perception of your personal brand or company. In an era where “Google” is the new first impression, Online Reputation Management manages the way a business or person appears on page 1 of search engines.
What is the biggest misconception about online reputation management firms?
One of the most common misconceptions about Online Reputation Management firms is the notion that our sole focus is on rectifying negative online reputations. In reality, the essence of our work revolves around empowering individuals and businesses to proactively shape their digital narrative. If you don't actively define your online story, you risk allowing external forces to define it for you.
Beyond managing negative content, one of our distinguished services involves assisting executives and their teams in the proactive management of their personal and professional brands online. By emphasizing accomplishments and offering a transparent view into one's values and operations, we help establish a strong sense of credibility and authority within the industry. Furthermore, we possess specialized expertise in addressing challenges associated with Google Suggest, Related Search, and the 'People Also Ask' sections. These targeted campaigns are crafted to influence and realign digital perceptions, which can be pivotal in a client's decision-making process.
How has social media influenced reputation management?
You’ve heard the saying “bad news travels fast.” What social media has done is taken Reputation Management from zero to sixty. Unfortunately, anything that happens online can be amplified at the speed of light. However, the silver lining is that social media can also positively amplify your brand. Your company’s new acquisition, an outstanding new hire, a philanthropic initiative, all can be spread just as fast through the power of social media. Just remember, bad news travels faster and farther.
What is the first piece of advice you would give a client interested in Online Reputation Management?
I know some of my colleagues have mentioned this before but it can’t be stressed enough, Google yourself! It still amazes me how many people from Wall Street to Main Street have never searched for themselves online. Crucial step one. From there, discuss a strategy for shoring up any holes you see in the narrative you want to be told when someone searches for you or your business online.
How should businesses respond to negative reviews?
Quickly, openly, and honestly. Always ask for an opportunity to remedy the situation. You see it time and again. Businesses that respond to reviews both good and bad as quickly and as empathetic as possible, win the online reviews game. Truly listen to what your customer has to say. If you begin to see multiple negative reviews about the same issue, maybe it’s time to look at changing things up. A recent survey by Podium suggests that 93% of customers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. Therefore, it’s important to immediately address and work on recurring issues so you don’t deter potential customers from buying your product or service.
What’s the biggest mistake that people make when trying to manage their own Online Reputations?
A common mistake is limiting Online Reputation Management to simply ensuring your social media profiles don’t boast images of you holding a cocktail. ORM is so much more than hiding party photos from college. Curating what you want people to read about you online takes an investment of time (research) and resources (often monetary). You can spend the time figuring out how to do this yourself, or you can hire experts to help. Either way, it’s not easy.
What about companies that claim to completely remove negative press or reviews?
Proceed with extreme caution! Better yet, don’t proceed at all. There have been multiple cases recently about these firms being sued by state attorney general’s because of the procedure they use to remove these links. Fraud is often involved to successfully convince a judge that a link needs to be de-indexed. The unfortunate outcome could mean more negative press and attention on an issue you originally wanted to minimize.
How can a company benefit from working with an Online Reputation Management Specialist?
Engaging with a reputation expert offers companies a strategic advantage in the digital landscape. In a world where a single negative search result can deter as many as 22% of potential customers, it becomes imperative for businesses to curate their online presence meticulously. A reputation expert not only assists in managing and mitigating such detrimental content but also ensures the company's online persona genuinely reflects its core values and missions. The long-term financial ramifications of unchecked negative online impressions are staggering, often amounting to millions in lost sales. By leveraging the expertise of a reputation specialist, businesses can secure their online standing, convert potential threats into profitable engagements, and fortify trust with their audience.
Who should be most concerned with Online Reputation Management?
Shouldn’t everyone be concerned with how they look online? All that Google wants to do is serve up content that’s most relevant for someone’s name when they’re searched for. Everyone from Executives of Fortune 500 companies and celebrities, to entrepreneurs starting their first businesses can benefit from ORM. If your name is unique, it becomes even more important to manage your online reputation. Managing the name John Smith for example might not be as crucial as it would be if you were named Kylie Jenner and looking to distance yourself from Kardashian-related results.
Where do you see reputation management heading in the next five years?
Search engine algorithms and social media continually evolve and Online Reputation Management must evolve with it. I predict that in the next five years, algorithms will shift toward user behaviors, not only based on browser cookies but on location and contact data collected from your phone. Every user will become a “profile” and receive information bespoke to them. We’ve already begun to see some of this happening today. For Online Reputation Management services, this means crafting thousands of unique strategies for one campaign in order to effectively reach the different user profiles that will view your online content. The future is now.
For those who found this article enlightening, there's even more in store for you. Our COO, Jesse Boskoff, delves deeper into the intricacies of online reputation management in his latest piece, "What to Know About Online Reputation Management in 2023". With his extensive experience in the realm of ORM, Jesse offers a treasure trove of insights from the front lines, including understanding the nuances of reputation management and practical steps you can take today. Whether you're seeking to elevate your online presence or address specific challenges, this comprehensive guide is a must-read. Explore Jesse's insights here.
If you're ready to take the next step and talk to an ORM expert, we're here to help. Contact us anytime for a free quote within 24 hours.