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The importance of online reputation management

Organisations realise that to succeed in today’s competitive market it is necessary to sustain and maintain a good reputation both online and offline.

A good reputation builds confidence and grows sales; which ultimately leads to better revenues and higher profitability. A good reputation is also an effective entry barrier to most competitors. In today’s Internet era erroneous & malicious gossip, rumours, unfair opinions and other bad news can spread fast- globally! Negative news can easily compound problems and if not tackled in a timely manner, the damage can be irrevocable.

Thanks to the growing popularity of consumer generated media sites (blogs, forum, message boards) general public can quickly receive the latest news and express their views which could make or break a brand. Today’s Internet savvy consumer trusts opinions published online on these sites and also base their purchase decisions on these reviews. For example, online shopping sites have benefited by publishing real customer feedback and product ratings to boost sales and build trust. Similarly, employees, and brand evangelists can easily leverage their personal expertise to enrich online reputation management by beginning useful discussion threads and enlisting support of the online community to any new product/service launch They can then use the same media to gauge customer feedback to effect changes as desired by the vast majority of users. Online reputation management can also effectively used to repair any brand damage due to some unforeseen events.

Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management uses integrated marketing approach leveraging branding, public relations and effective search engine marketing. High search engine rankings and greater visibility are essential for good publicity as they tend to push any bad publicity published on the web further down the search web page listings and even out of public view. The objective of Internet based Reputation Management is to build goodwill while ensuring higher rankings & indexing in top search engines for all high priority web assets like corporate websites and product/service blogs / microsites / landing pages.

Corporate communication functionaries regularly monitor and feed online media channels with positive information to promote brands, manage consumer opinion and boost conversion rates of ongoing sales initiatives. These online communication assets consist of:

  • Forums, Blogs, Opinion Sites, Discussion boards
  • Social Network Sites
  • Consumer Complaint Sites
  • Counter-intelligence
  • Competitor Attacks
  • Trademark Infringement
  • Counterfeit Products
  • Crisis Management Developments

Coordinated and consistent online reputation efforts enhance overall positive web presence, which leads to top spots in search engine rankings for brand(s). Online reputation management thus enables corporate to protect & manage their reputation by actively contributing to the outcome of search engine results. Successful online reputation management needs persistence as it is you may not succeed initially and you may need to try, and try again! Reputation management requires non-stop monitoring and taking well planned and coordinated action with a dogged determination to succeed.

Online Reputation Feeds Search Engine Marketing

Online reputation management efforts enable you to effectively manage your search engine space. As part of ongoing online reputation management, the search engine plan calls for regular monitoring of:

  • Organic positions
  • Pay-Per-Click tracking of your branded terms
  • Snapshots of top ten search engine results
  • News of your brand/activities
  • News about competitors’ brands
  • Consumer generated media activity (blog/forum/social networking site posts)

Successful online reputation management strategy also requires immediate or quick response to capitalise on emerging issues and opportunities. Points to keep in mind while undertaking an online reputation campaign are:
* Investigate facts thoroughly, often taking expert opinion, before taking action – is this a competitor spreading rumors?

  • Do take the high ground
  • Be truthful!
  • Explain activities undertaken to rectify any issue
  • Offer to resolve complaints using a senior-level staff member and if needed continue discussions offline too
  • Rally clients, experts, opinion leaders, friends, peers and utilise all your allies/partners
  • Never create new “personas” to support your position in web posts as you can be easily caught and create undue embarrassment for yourself/corporate.

In the year 2008, the consumer has more information available to them than ever before, so monitoring and controlling the information published about your company is an important strategy for all organisations.