How brands are taking control of their first impression with online reputation management

Jesse Boskoff, Chief Operating Officer, Status Labs

In 2022, being familiar with how a business or brand appears in search results is only the first step in managing online reputation, which is quickly becoming a defining — if not the defining — aspect of managing the overall reputation of a business or brand.

Online reputation management (ORM) is the practice of influencing the narrative or reputation of a business or brand online. For many, an ORM strategy is vital to control, cultivate and maintain a strong online presence in 2022 and beyond.

Several factors contribute to online reputation, including news coverage, reviews, social media conversations and owned properties (such as websites and social media profiles). Implementing a successful strategy takes a fusion of longstanding marketing functions, including PR, branding and SEO. 

Understanding the value of ORM

How a brand or business appears in search results is becoming more critical. Nearly 70% of user experiences online start with a search engine, and 99% of people report searching online when they want to learn more about a business. Google has become a new kind of business card, and page 1 results are often the first impression. 

Businesses with just one negative article ranking online risk losing up to 22% of prospective customers. This number increases quickly: businesses with four or more negative articles can experience a loss of up to 70% of prospective customers. With the top three results on Google receiving more than 54% of clicks, these numbers may be even more severe if negative results land in those slots. 

The importance of reputation is growing, too — 89% of consumers report staying loyal to brands that share their values. According to a report from Trustpilot, 90% of consumers report not frequenting a business with a bad reputation, and 87% of customers will reverse a purchase decision after reading negative news or reviews about a brand, company or product online.

What constitutes a bad reputation? While that question may be subjective, there are tangible consequences when it comes to negative results, particularly because the effect of negative news on reputation is three times larger than positive news.

But while negative results can be intimidating, it’s not all bad — just as a poor reputation can harm a business or brand, there are significant benefits to having an excellent online reputation. In the Trustpilot survey, 95% of consumers report trusting a business with a positive online reputation.

Even in the wake of a reputation crisis, knowing how to respond can turn a bad situation into a good one. Taking feedback seriously and providing a plan or solution moving forward can increase trust, transparency and accountability for businesses or brands, which can positively impact reputations. 

Given the vast numbers of people who already go online to learn about brands and businesses, how those organizations show up has a defining impact on perception. 

Implementing an effective ORM strategy

All businesses and brands that are, or need to be, findable online must have an ORM strategy. If an online presence is not maintained, a company or brand’s reputation will be defined by what others say.  

An effective ORM strategy will generally consist of a combination of PR, branding, marketing and SEO practices. ORM can be proactive or reactive, depending on business needs and when a marketing team begins implementing its approach. 

Proactive ORM starts with building and optimizing a website, maintaining active social media accounts and seeking earned and sponsored media opportunities. Reactive ORM is implementing an ORM strategy due to an online change or challenge, such as a reputation crisis. An online reputation crisis can arise when a business’s online presence is weak or nonexistent, which increases the prominence of negative search results. A dominating or high-profile negative news cycle may also outrank positive properties in branded search results.

Each strategy, whether proactive or reactive, is specific to the business, brand or even person that needs online-reputation work. That said, the goal will always be the same: to influence search results to put the best foot forward online.

How ORM and SEO work together

Both ORM and SEO influence how a brand or business appears in search results. 

Marketers implementing an ORM strategy will target multiple online assets to increase the prominence of positive, owned and relevant properties over negative or unrelated properties using branded keywords as a jumping-off point. SEO targets keywords related to a brand or business to increase audience and reach. SEO keywords are generally not branded, meaning they can be competitive, with multiple entities attempting to rank for a particular keyword.

While SEO is a foundational tool for ORM, and ORM strategies can also positively impact SEO, the two are not synonymous. Ultimately, with a detailed ORM strategy in place, marketing teams put their best foot forward online and establish a defense against negative narratives.

Sponsored by: Status Labs

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