Imagine if you looked at yourself in the mirror and instead of seeing yourself as you appear, your reflection was actually a composition of what people think you should look like based on the information available about you online. Your first reaction to seeing this strange new you would be, “Hey that’s not me!” but to others you would appear completely normal.
Reputation management can be thought of as taking control of how you want your online reflection to appear. Think of it like looking in the mirror before a first date or job interview. You want to determine how you look, what you’re wearing, and be be well-groomed. Most importantly, YOU want to be the one to curate your own appearance.
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 biggest misconceptions about Online Reputation Management firms is that we only help people with negative online reputations. The truth is, if you don’t own your own digital narrative, you’re leaving it up to everyone else to write your story.
One of our better offerings is helping executives and their teams proactively manage their personal brand online. Highlighting your accomplishments and letting your customers and the public know more about who you are and what you do establishes credibility and authority in your industry. It differentiates you from your competition and could be the deciding factor on whether or not a client decides to move forward with you.
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 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?
Online Reputation Management Specialists are experts in the complex world of SEO and search engine algorithms. Not only do they help navigate your personal brand or company to a positive public perception, they set you up with tools and processes to prevent similar mistakes from happening again. These folks are experts and the good ones are keeping up with changes to Google’s algorithm as well as trends that help these campaigns.
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.