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What is Online Reputation Management?
Reputation Management

What is Online Reputation Management?

March 22, 2024

A company's reputation used to be what they said about themselves in their advertising and the reach their customers had by word of mouth. Now, customers are pushing out a business's reputation and image collectively by providing real-time feedback online using review sites, social media, forums and other channels. Basically, if it is an online source and a customer can say something about a company on it, then it is a channel where your company's reputation should be managed.

Digital marketing and online reputation management for companies

Online reputation management is a part of a greater digital marketing strategy that works beside review management, business listings, paid search/ads, social media management and SEO to help your business stay competitive and relevant online. While your business should be managing each of these areas of digital marketing to preserve your online presence and (consequently) offline reputation, many companies are not. They really should: four in five consumers surveyed use search engines to find local information from multiple devices to find store address, business hours, product availability and directions.

Online reputation management: your company has options

Your company's reputation can be affected at any time on almost any source across the internet. You can use products (SaaS), services (outsource services) or people (outsource or hire a digital marketer) to reduce your reputation management time expenditure. Even if your company tracks and continuously checks on social media, there might be sources that your company is unaware of such as a new review website from a listing that your business never knew existed.

Your business should weigh the advantages and disadvantages of conducting online reputation management in-house or outsourcing, but there are certain best practices when responding to reviews that your business should know. Maintaining your company's online presence is one of the most worthwhile services a digital agency or local media company can provide your business and is one of the most valuable services you can buy.

Why your company's online reputation matters

An online reputation needs to be backed by reviews and ratings by consumers. Without them, there would be no reputation to manage and quite frankly, it would look like if nobody ever went to the business

Ready or not, customers are talking about your company

Whether a business chooses to manage their reputation online or not, customers are talking about their favorite as well as not-so-favorite companies. If a company just brushes off their reputation online, the consequences can be detrimental.

Unmanaged negative reviews can create an angry mob mentality and bad word of mouth spreads like wildfire. While a company might not understand how exactly one instance can impact their online reputation, it is possible that only one negative review on a highly ranked website can actually be what appears near the top of a search results page when a customer looks for that company's name.

Customers control the conversation and every person's feedback matters

Social media is a two-way conversation-- companies can no longer broadcast the message they want people to see. There is a democratic nature to social, with brands, customers and everybody having an equal voice in a shared space. Consumers can rave about a company or let everybody know they had an awful experience. Social networks have dramatically changed the way companies communicate. Today, consumers can converse with brands as well as vice versa as if they were talking to a friend. As a result, companies have had to become more personable than simply a business entity and manage their social presence in a way that reflects as such.

Reputation drives conversion

What users see online matters. Around 74% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations-- this is a huge shift in thinking that has become increasingly prominent as time goes on. This trust in reviews converts to dollars, as consumers put their money where their trust is. A Harvard Business School study found that a restaurant that sees a one star increase on Yelp will see profits increase anywhere from five to nine percent.

As discussed earlier, many companies find that cultivating their digital profile themselves is too time consuming. There are reputation monitoring tools that make keeping up with customers way easier, saving time and money. Whatever your company does, it is vital that you are not perceived to be ignoring your customers online. The worst thing your company can do is appear passive.

What makes a great online reputation?

Being present (listed online) and having a good reputation (reviews and reputation management) go hand in hand. Not being listed on a reference site customers use is just as bad as having negative reviews on that site. Developing a consistent online presence and a positive reputation is important for both customers and search engines. Some of the most important elements of the online footprint include:

  • number of business listings
  • consistency of business listing info (name, address, phone).
  • overall sentiment in reviews.
  • frequency or current rate of new reviews.
  • overall number of reviews.
  • social activity and engagement (particularly with reviewers).

Consumers now view social recommendations and reviews as more authentic, expecting \ \ reviews to be a mirror of the real customer experience that they would experience themselves. This means that maintaining your business's online reputation is gaining importance as each review is a perceived snippet of what your potential customer expects to experience.

Online reputation management: the main sell

According to Google, 9 out of 10 of local searches lead to action, with more than 50% resulting in sales. If companies have a good web presence, consumers will go to them rather than the competitor. Once they're in the store, 79% of consumers use their smartphones inside to look at reviews or compare prices and 74% of them wind up buying. Those numbers alone make the opportunity clear: online reputation management is necessary for your business to get consumers in the door to make the sale.

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