The Basics of Online Reputation Management

reputation-posters.jpg As a social media agency, we have mostly gotten inquires from companies who are a) Not sure if or how they should enter social media or b) They have been thrown into social media and need some help.

More unfortunate are the companies that get thrown in. Take Dell for instance. From a disgruntled blogger Jeff Jarvis came an onslaught of negative blog reactions and a case study that has been referred to since as “Dell Hell“. Or ask Kryptonite bike locks, who are still suffering (at least in web presence) from bloggers revealing that its locks could be picked with a Bic pen.

In my opinion, the most unfortunate part of a company “getting thrown in” is that it often restricts social media tactics to damage control. The crisis communication plan doesn’t have “blogging” anywhere in it, there often isn’t a clear communication channel established, and as a result it takes companies days or weeks to respond.

With an increased emphasis on real-time communication, customers are bloggers – and they are expecting companies to respond in the same medium. So the question exists – are you ready? If you were thrown in – would your company sink or swim?

In order to help get you and your company on the right path (or to see how many of these you’ve gotten right), I’ve excerpted verbatim the 5 pillars of online reputation management from an excellent post from ViperChill:

  1. Taking Stock – Before you can take any effective steps toward ensuring a better digital brand, you will need to monitor the existing situation, i.e. your existing online presence. You would need to know what people are saying about your company, a good way to do this is by setting up Google Alerts for relevant phrases and, of course, your company name. This way, you can stay up to speed about what people are saying about you.You can find more in our post about 5 free Brand Monitoring solutions.
  2. Analyze your Online Presence within the SERPS – With the web moving more toward user generated content and search engines which now update their indexes more frequently, it’s not uncommon to find a negative comment or blog post in the SERPS for a particular keyword. Something like a company scandal similar to the Media 24 Scandal can live on the Google front page for months. You therefore need to keep an eye on you and your competitor’s search engine environment.
  3. Gain Points with Optimization – Correctly optimizing your site for search engines mean that your site will rank higher for important key terms therefore preventing any negative publicity from rearing it’s ugly head on the first page or the SERPS.A good idea is also to link out to positive resources on your brand to help them rank for your name aswell.
  4. Get your Hands Dirty – As a brand, you would also need to actively participate in social networks and online communities through blog posts, forums and social networking sites like Facebook. For example, commenting on blogs will help paint your brand in a positive light as a large percentage of consumers turn to blogs when looking for advice on whether or not to try new brands, etc. This can also help in terms of responding to any negative criticism that has been written about you.
  5. Wash, Rinse, Repeat – It should be noted that online reputation management is not a once-off but only effective an ongoing process. Be proactive and understand the consumer’s perception of your brand and your organization when choosing an online reputation management strategy. “

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