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Online Reputation Management: How to Protect Your Brand - Visualping

Online Reputation Management: How to Protect Your Brand - Visualping

Online Reputation Management: A Guide to Protecting Your Brand

Even the best brands have bad days, and yours is no exception. Bad PR can tank a company – even when it’s not warranted, or based on inaccurate information.

Online reputation management (ORM) is a set of tools and strategies that you can use to make sure that your target audience doesn’t get the wrong idea about your brand.

What is Online Reputation Management (ORM)?

Online reputation management – best known in the PR and marketing industries under the acronym ORM – is the process of monitoring, protecting, and shaping public perception of your brand online.

A good reputation cannot truly be bought, only earned. That said, even the best brands with the best products, services, and customer satisfaction can still run into issues like poor reviews or misunderstandings.

To prevent and mitigate these issues, an online reputation management strategy can help you keep your brand image positive across the web.

This can include doing things like addressing negative comments and reviews, engaging in a real dialogue with customers that may have had a bad experience with your product or service. You can also do things like encourage positive reviews – within some limits, of course – and monitor discourse online to gauge the overall sentiment toward your brand.

ORM is essentially a subset of PR, with a heavy SEO and digital marketing component.

Media Channels for ORM Initiatives: What to Look At

ORM applies across a range of different online media channels, where your brand either has a presence, or where people are talking about your company.

These can be divided into a couple of key categories:

  • Paid media. This includes things like paid social media and display ads, paid search ads, or sponsored content.

  • Earned media. This category features things your brand did not pay for, but in which it’s mentioned. It includes things like non-sponsored digital magazine articles or online news coverage, as well as influencer content that you did not pay for or incentivize.

  • Shared media. This covers places where both you and customers might talk about your brand, like forums, Reddit, and social media.

  • Owned media. This is the stuff you create that actually belongs to you – your website, your blog, whitepapers, case studies, anything you’ve created and published yourself.

Online reputation management strategies and tactics can be applied across all of these types of channels, to help sculpt and refine the ways that your customers think about and conceptualize your brand.

Want to get set up with online reputation monitoring?

Sign up with Visualping to track any web page on the internet to stay up-to-date on your online reputation.

STEP 1: Enter the URL you want to monitor
STEP 2: Enter your email address

Why design and implement an ORM strategy?

There are a few major reasons why it’s a good idea for just about any brand to have processes in place for online reputation management.

Negative reviews and negative online discourse can have a huge impact on your customers’ purchasing decisions.

At the end of the day, this is the biggest one. It can affect your bottom line.

All of us have, at some point, decided against going with a particular vendor because their reviews were largely negative, or we say people saying things about them that weren’t exactly promising.

Sometimes this is warranted, but that’s not always the case. The last thing you want to deal with is negative PR.

This is especially important if you’re selling a high-dollar product or service – especially if you’re selling B2B. The more your customers need to invest in your product, the more research they do beforehand, and their more discriminating they’ll be when they make a purchase decision.

Online reputation management helps you make sure that your brand is positioned in a good light.

Even when they’re not justified, negative reviews are inevitable for any brand.

It doesn’t matter how excellent your product is, or how great your customer service might be. Eventually, negative reviews will happen.

It’s unfortunately pretty common for customers to leave a negative review for reasons that aren’t really justified. (For example, maybe the product shipped out late through no fault of your own, or the customer didn’t do their research and bought the wrong thing.)

One of the best things you can do in this case is to respond to negative reviews to give context and feedback, and when needed, to offer something like a refund or other mitigation for the customer.

When negative feedback is justified, it constitutes valuable feedback for your brand.

Everyone has blind spots. When negative feedback is actually legitimate, it can paradoxically be a good thing. It gives you important information about areas where your company or your product need to improve.

How to Get Started with Online Reputation Management

Here’s what you can do to get the ball rolling and start creating an ORM strategy.

1. Conduct a thorough audit of your brand’s overall online reputation.

You can start off by reviewing key online assets:

  • Your website and blog
  • Social media profiles
  • Paid ads
  • Any third party profiles you’ve created for your business, e.g. online directories

Then, run an incognito search on your brand name, or run it through SEO software like SEMRush that will show you neutral, non-personalized search results.

What comes up and ranks for your brand name? Is there anything negative that could harm your reputation?

You can divide these assets into two key categories: those you own, and those you do not.

Using Visualping to track your business' reputation.

2. Decide what ORM actions to prioritize first.

Sometimes, you can find a few tasks – say, leaving a measured and helpful response to a poor review that isn’t fully justified – that can constitute “quick wins.”

A good “quick win” is something that doesn’t take a ton of time, effort, or capital to achieve, but that will have a significant positive impact nonetheless.

In turn, you may decide that other things take a lot of effort or money, but don’t give much payoff in return.

3. Put together detailed documentation outlining your brand’s communication guideline policies, brand voice and tone, and other factors that are relevant when you respond to customers online.

It’s very helpful for your employees to have a set of clear-cut guidelines for engaging with things like negative reviews or bad press.

Ownership is also important. It’s essential to figure out who on your team is responsible for handling ORM activities.

4. Start monitoring all online mentions of your brand.

There are a few different tools you can use to do this, like Mention and VisualPing. These online reputation tools can alert you whenever someone mentions your brand online.

Knowing right away when conversations take off can be valuable for getting a say in them.

You can also use social listening software for this kind of thing, to track and monitor brand-centric conversations continuously. These SaaS options often come with features for social listening and sentiment analysis – highly valuable for brands that want to make sure their target audience isn’t getting the wrong ideas.

5. Develop a crisis management scenario for handling a worst-case PR disaster.

Hopefully, as long as you do your best as a brand, you won’t have to deal with a PR crisis.

But things happen in life, and it’s a good idea to be prepared ahead of time with a well-defined crisis management plan.

Some of the tools we’ve talked about, like Visualping for mention monitoring, dedicated social listening software, and other options, will give you a heads-up right as negative conversations take off.

It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on industry chatter, news, and trends, to look for things that come up that your brand needs to be proactive about in order to avoid consumer criticism. (You can use Visualping for this too.)

Want to get set up with online reputation monitoring?

Sign up with Visualping to track any web page on the internet to stay up-to-date on your online reputation.

STEP 1: Enter the URL you want to monitor
STEP 2: Enter your email address

6. Encourage satisfied customers to leave a positive review.

Now, there are absolutely some caveats with this.

**You cannot directly pay or incentivize customers to leave a review that’s positive. **

Most platforms, notably Google Business Profiles, expressly prohibit this.

What you can do, though, is to send post-purchase emails, or have a sales rep call customers, to obtain feedback and encourage reviews.

You also need to make the process of leaving a review as quick, easy, and straightforward as possible. Generally speaking, customers won’t go out of their way to leave a review unless their experience was negative.

Another thing you can do is to encourage customers to contact your customer support team directly if they run into any problems. This can help mitigate people’s knee-jerk reaction to leave a negative review.

7. Manage and address negative reviews.

This is a big one.

There’s a fairly well-known trick among consumers for assessing online reviews.

Don’t look at glowing positive reviews. Look at negative reviews first. Then ask: are they justified and warranted?

The unfortunate truth is that some people will jump to leaving a negative review when they have some problem or issue that not only isn’t your fault, but isn’t anything you can do much about. (We mentioned shipping delays as a common one.)

In a worst case scenario, you might even get the dreaded Karen.

A good thing to do is to respond to negative reviews. Here are a few tips for doing this.

  • Have a quick response time.
  • Be polite and courteous.
  • Don’t be afraid to acknowledge it if you did, in fact, make a mistake.
  • Keep it public, so that everyone can see how gracefully your brand responds to criticism.
  • Offer dissatisfied customers something to help make things right, like a refund, a credit or discount on their next purchase, or a replacement for a faulty item.
  • As far as published reviews – for example, a review published by a tech journalist in a digital magazine examining your SaaS product – you can reach out to the author if you have proof of inaccuracies, or if you have improved upon the problems pointed out in their content.
  • Take action to improve your products or services in response to valid criticisms.

8. Try to push negative search results down below the top 10, so they’re not as visible and prominent.

This is a big one, and we’ve written elsewhere about SEO reputation management in particular.

Here are some tips for doing this:

  • Promote positive content that you’ve created or sponsored.
  • Update your existing content to refresh it and make it more relevant and current.
  • Pursue direct backlinks to your own website and content, from earned media with a positive orientation toward your brand.
  • Partner with influencers in your niche to promote your content.
  • Spotlight positive reviews on your website and social media.

Online Reputation Management is Worth Pursuing for Even the Best of Brands.

Unfortunately, bad reviews and bad press can happen to just about any company, no matter how well-loved by consumers.

Creating a detailed, actionable online reputation management strategy is a great way to make sure you’re prepared for even the most unthinkable negative PR nightmare.

At Visualping, our versatile change management software gives you a robust, easy-to-use option for keeping an eye on who’s talking about your brand, and what exactly they’re saying.

Book your demo today to find out more about what Visualping can do for your business!

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Visualping is a simple tool that helps over 1 million users effortlessly detect important changes on any web page.

Start Monitoring Now (It's Free)