Online reputation managment (ORM) is most certainly on the mind of your average Web worker these days - check out WM's recent post on "Where Customers Complain".
Reputation means everything on today's fast paced 'Net and those with the best reputation are those that will ultimately reap the greatest rewards.
Website Magazine recently interviewed ReputationChanger.com's founder Cliff Stein on the state of digital reputation management, what type of companies benefit from using ORM services the most, the types of reputation threats, how ORM has changed over the years and a whole lot more. ORM is here to stay folks, so let this interview set you on the course for greater Web success and a better reputation.
WM: What is online reputation management (ORM) and why is it something that digital brands should be concerned with?
CS: The online reputation management industry is founded on the simple reality that, more and more, what a search engine query reveals about a particular business or brand matters. Times are tough and budgets are tight, for many consumers, but it is the easiest thing in the world to use Google or Bing to seek out information before making a big purchase. Thus, if a consumer searches for your company and finds only positive reviews, you’re set. If your business’ online profile isn’t as clean or as positive, however, it can prove ruinous.
Online reputation management provides brands with the tools they need to take control of how they are presented online, and to suppress defamatory listings or bad reviews—ultimately, to stand out as a brand of choice among consumers.
WM: What types of companies typically seek out solutions of this nature? Is one group more susceptible to negative reviews than another?
CS: The sad reality is that no business is safe from negative reviews or defamatory posts—regardless of the industry you are in, or how reputable you are. Negative reviews can come at any time, and from a number of different sources. All brands need to be aware of this, and to make online reputation management a priority.
Reputation Changer has worked with an astonishing array of corporate clients—including hotels, law firms, medical practices, online marketing companies, financial planning firms, scientific research facilities, restaurants, and more.
WM: What are the greatest threats to a business’s reputation? e.g. consumer reviews?
CS: Reviews are a huge threat, but remember that not all negative reviews come from consumers. Negative reviews can be planted by competitors, or even by disgruntled ex-employees! Regardless of where they come from, negative reviews, on sites like Yelp.com, are lethal, as are any claims of fraudulent or “scam” activity.
WM: Has the need for reputation management changed over the years? If so, how?
CS: As consumers turn, more and more, to using the Internet in order to inform their purchasing decisions, the need for online reputation management grows more pronounced. In particular, the need for review suppression is growing more significant, as sites like Yelp are integrated into Google searches and Apple Maps. What a business’ online review profile reveals could either propel them to success, or utterly devastate them—so reputation management becomes more urgent with each passing day.
WM: Tell Website Magazine readers about Reputation Changer and the ORM process and tools it makes available to its clients.
CS: The vision of our company is simple: We want to help businesses and brands, as well as individuals, take control of the way they are presented online. Reputation Changer does not offer “cookie cutter” services, but rather we closely evaluate a business’ online assets and needs, and we formulate a plan to help them get their message across, regardless of what that is, and regardless of what kinds of negative content need to be suppressed.
Reputation Changer’s clients are all assigned to an account manager, who works with them directly to assess their message and keep them continually apprised of how their campaign is progressing. A team of content developers and social media professionals develops a huge volume of positive content about the client, portraying the client’s brand in the best light possible. That content is used to bury the negatives.
Throughout the process, the brands we work with receive reports of the progress made in their campaigns, and total control over all of the content that is published on their behalf.
WM: Do you have any suggestions for how brands should approach reputation management? Should ORM be proactive, reactive, or both?
CSIt is a little bit of both, but it should always start as proactive. It is important for brands to make sure that they are constantly monitoring online search engines and review sites, keeping on top of the information published about them. Additionally, it is important for businesses and brands to amass plenty of good, strong online content—developing a positive reputation for them, and thereby insulating themselves from attack.
Of course, in the event of a negative listing or bad review appearing, it is important to ramp up those reputation defense measures even further—but if you wait until you reach the crisis point before you begin to product positive content, it is going to be an uphill battle.