Online Reputation Management: What Is It and Why B2B Companies Need It (Even If They Think They Don’t)
As much as businesses like to believe they have a great deal of control over the public perception of their brand, the fact is that is not always the case. No matter how well your company does, there will always be critics and detractors. In an online environment where a negative review can be distributed and shared across the world within minutes, businesses need to be devoting resources to an online reputation management (ORM) strategy.
A quality ORM strategy normally focuses on proactive reputation building measures. For example, to push less-than-flattering posts off of Google’s first page, businesses can develop search-optimized landing pages, blogs, and other content.
Internet users are often making snap judgments based off of their search. When one sees a negative claim, they are not necessarily going to exercise due diligence examining its veracity or relevance. This phenomenon does not merely apply to the business itself, but to your employees as well. If a potential customer searches the names of your business’ leadership team, individuals with the same name who have had legal issues, controversial blogs, or what have you, may pop up in the same results. While one would hope that they would make the distinction between your CTO “John Smith” and the one who robbed a local 7-11, this is unfortunately not always the case.
Another way that businesses can combat negative posts online is by reaching out to the posters to gain clarification on their issues with the company. ORM firm Five Blocks notes that many of the common negative reviews they encounter for their technology clients are “pertaining to a much earlier version of the product or software – but the searchers may not realize this.” So, even if your company acknowledges and fixes a software bug, the damage control is not fully done. Effectively promoting and communicating improvements to your products and services, especially to those who were unhappy with previous offerings, can foster goodwill and hopefully bring back “lost” customers.
The most common ORM tactic, and the most well known to those with passing knowledge of the field, is negative review suppression. On the surface, this service may just sound like you are paying somebody to filter out posts that paint your company in a negative light. However, you should be highly wary of ORM “specialists” that promise to remove any and all negative reviews found on company rating websites or within industry forums. While there are occasionally cases where greatly exaggerated or completely false claims are posted and deletion is justified, this should not be a business’ primary ORM concern. Attempting to remove 100% of negative postings is not only unrealistic; it can delve into murky ethical territory.
ORM is a quickly growing practice that is more important than most realize. A business with a proactive, rather than a reactive, approach to their online reputation will keep doors for future customers open, rather than closing ones without even realizing it.