With access to the World Wide Web, information about companies and individuals is readily available. People who want to know more about someone or something will inevitably conduct a search under a name or a company brand online. With any type of information gathered from digital and print media publishing, the question is whether or not the information acquired is actually accurate.
With the advent of social media and blogging platforms such as blogger.com and wordpress.com, real time, in-the-moment commentary about companies and individuals is now possible. When positive comments appear about a company or person, there are often no issues. However, when negative commentaries are posted under a person’s name or brand’s name — this information can linger online and cause loss of income, distrust, lack of respect and unexpected challenges.
Online Reputation Management is Born
Before social media and online marketing even existed, reputation management was a professional skill. Establishing a reputation for a person, company or organization was the domain of public relations specialists. If someone’s name or company endured a scandal that negatively tied their brand or name to a media event, lawsuit, affair, or other type of happening, a public relations firm was hired to proactively combat the information released and correct inaccuracies. Nowadays, PR specialists are still hired in this capacity. Public relations professionals are usually employed by celebrities, politicians, religious and corporate leaders and other professionals who can afford to pay large monthly retainers. To be most effective at reaching wider audiences additional print, radio and television advertising budgets are also necessary.
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The Difference Between Web Based Reputation Management & Traditional PR
Many online marketing companies offer reputation management services that apply directly to Web media. The specialists who oversee Web based reputation management for a company or organization usually have professional public relations backgrounds. But these are not the only types of skill sets needed. In the world of online marketing, a person who monitors an individual or company’s reputation needs to know how to utilize social media and blogging platforms to gain visibility under search engine results pages (SERPs). As time passes, social media and blogging platforms change, incorporating new programming and functionality for members. Professionals involved in online reputation management will keep abreast of these changes and know exactly how to implement them in strategies for their clients.
The Impact of Social Media on an Online Reputation
Good or bad, right or wrong, everyday people are feeling free to post their views and opinions everywhere online. People who populate the web with this type of information may have an ax to grind or perhaps a legitimate concern. These could include dissatisfied customers, vendors, or former or current employees. In the field of reputation management, ‘scrubbing’ or eliminating negative comments is not a strategy – it is a reaction. Facebook currently allows members to remove comments that are unacceptable. But the impact of aggressive or negative responses may have already been felt.
Other social media platforms, such as Twitter and LinkedIn do not allow members to remove comments. Online review-based websites such as Yelp, Merchant Circle or Google are other places where people can ‘vent.’ If a blog or website which is owned and maintained by another individual or company contains offensive or inaccurate information about a company or person – the text cannot simply be removed. In fact, these types of comments can remain for quite some time. If no response is crafted and posted, the person or company can experience decreases in lead generation, customer retention, or damage to a brand or name.
As Warrant Buffett once remarked, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it.”
How to Evaluate A Company Selling These Online Services
Any legitimate company selling reputation management services will not simply recommend removal of comments. Instead, one can expect online marketing agencies offering this service to step into play and craft appropriate responses that put a new ‘spin’ on the problem. Similar to their counterparts in the world of traditional public relations, online reputation management providers will offer their clients options and approaches that neutralize the negative commentary or offer their customers, vendors, or employees a solution to the problem.
If unseemly comments appear high in search engine rankings under a company’s brand name or an individual’s name, online marketing and public relations strategies will be recommended and implemented to push damaging pages from the first several pages of search engine results to subsequent pages.
According to The Media Audit conducted in October 2010, “US Internet users spend 3X more minutes on blogs and social networks than in answering and writing emails.” This means that the average consumer is listening to the chatter online. People do often consider this information very seriously before hiring or purchasing from a company or individual. As the information highway becomes more crowded with tidbits that turn off prospects, customers and clients, the skill of reputation management is more in demand than it ever was.
Do not make the mistake of hiring a traditional PR firm to handle online reputation management. Make certain that the agency or firm employed to do this job is well qualified in the field of Internet marketing and public relations.
For more information on reputation repair or management visit http://www.conversionpipeline.com.
About the Author:
Michael Delpierre has held leadership roles with Fortune 500 companies, and is a true entrepreneur at heart, having started three profitable small businesses before 35. He has an MBA in Global Management and is CEO of Conversion Pipeline. Delpierre is responsible for the vision, strategy and implementation for SEO and online marketing for small businesses. Visit http://www.conversionpipeline.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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