An Overview of Reputation Management
Online Reputation management refers to the practice of monitoring, evaluating, influencing, enhancing and in unfortunate cases, repairing the reputation of an organization, well-known individual, politician, or a brand. Most of the time, search engine results for an individual or company are the most damaging and usually the first area of concern (but this is not always the case). Obviously the reputation of the company or individual is crucial both on and off-line, because a negative reputation can drastically reduce sales and/or hurt potential business relationships. Reputation Management is not something that can ignored. A company’s reputation is extremely valuable and if it’s tainted in anyway, it takes a great deal of effort to turn a negative into a positive. Because of this, we like to recommend that every company and spotlight prone individual takes part in reputation management before any negative content is found online. We guarantee that protecting your reputation before someone attacks it, will make hiding negative content easier if and when it actually happens.
Importance of Reputation Management
What people say about a company online can become the single most powerful reflection of the company’s reliability, product quality, professionalism, skill level, and practically any other metric by which a company might be measured. Whether it’s accurate or not, and whether it’s justified or not, the fact remains that consumers around the world do pay attention to online reviews about a company.
A recent Nielsen global study found that more than 70% online users indicated that they trusted online reviews of a company and its products or services, and that these reviews were strong contributors to the users’ decisions about purchasing. You may have worked long and hard to establish your company, and to provide high quality products and services, but just a few negative reviews online can dash all that good work you’ve done instantly, and cause your company to be an Internet pariah. If something like this happens to you, recovering from it will be a long and difficult task. An organization or individual’s reputation is just as important as sales, because without sales a company will parish and with a negative reputation, sales will slowly diminish.
Avoiding Bad Online Reputation
Any organization or public individual must have an understanding of how they are perceived online. If you’re not monitoring your online reputation, or your organization’s online reputation, you are not being a responsible manager. Individuals and organizations need to understand that almost everyone searches for an abundance of reliable and credible information about the product or service they intend to buy. Not only do they want to ensure their purchase is a “good deal,” they want to ensure their purchase is “smart” and that they are spending their money wisely.
Online reviews from well known review platforms are considered to be unbiased and impartial. Many times, these reviews are posted by other consumers who have already purchased the product or service and they’ve already experienced the buying process and have used the product or service. When the most recent or most prominently featured reviews are negative, the long-term stability of an organization or person is in danger of losing business.
Most consumers shopping online find it very easy to research brand names, services and products before making a purchase decision. To stay ahead of the game, your company should have a thorough understanding of what consumers are looking for, and where they are looking to find the information they want. As a responsible brand or individual, you must do your best to avoid earning a bad reputation and do your best to sustain and increase a good reputation. Avoiding a bad online reputation means being proactive and constantly working towards earning great feedback from your clientele. It’s vital that you are constantly getting feedback by giving your customers easy ways to review and offer feedback.
Other Areas of Reputation Management
Apart from the consumer aspect of online reputation, your business also presents an image online to other businesses and entities which you could conceivably partner with. One of the ways other companies acquire information about your business is to research it online, and when negative reviews of your company abound, that will, at the very least, call for deeper investigation, and predispose the researching company to a similar negative assessment of you.
Celebrities have often run afoul of reputation damage online, whether justified or not. A rumor about a person of prominence can spread coast-to-coast in seconds. In situations like these, reputation management can be critical to restoring the celebrity’s status with the public, and dispelling any false rumors or half-truths.
Reputation Management & How it Can Help You Dominate Online
From the foregoing, it should not be inferred that online reviews and posts are the enemy – in fact, just the opposite can be true. Online reviews can be a company’s best friend, and for that reason, a major thrust of your marketing strategy should be to encourage and provide a format for customer reviews. This needs to be managed in such a way that customers are prompted to be as specific as possible in their reviews, so that any legitimate shortcomings in service, or defects in products, can be addressed as quickly as possible to minimize any brand damage.
In addition, the most recent reviews are generally the ones most heavily weighted in the minds of consumers, so this is another reason why a steady stream of positive reviews should be encouraged and promoted. It goes without saying that these reviews need to be legitimate customer reviews, and not artificially posted through internal sources; bogus positive reviews will always be discovered, and there are ethical and legal issues that can arise from such dishonesty. The brand damage from this misguided effort would be much worse than a few simple bad reviews.
Positive Online Reputation
The payoff to a very good online reputation can be enormous. A strong online reputation can be a powerful support to your company’s pricing strategy, and can justify price increases when necessary. A regular return of positive customer reviews can easily be used in marketing and advertising to demonstrate the advantages and superiority of your company’s products or services.
When proper attention is paid to reputation management, and when marketing strategy incorporates it as essential, the benefits can be felt for decades. On the flip side, neglecting reputation management and deeming it non-essential can be the final “nail in your coffin” so to speak.