With the Internet at our fingertips, people are searching online to learn more about a company, brand, product, and service prior to making a purchase. They go to their favorite search engine, type in a few keywords and click on the first few links that appear. Though consumers will likely visit your site for general information (if your site is ranked), they are more likely to view third party review sites (discussions, forums, blogs) to help them formulate an opinion. So what type of content are these third party sites publishing about your brand? What are people saying about your company on the social networks? What is the overall “rating” of your product and services online? Establishing an online reputation management plan to ensure proper brand management of any conversations happening around your company will help you find out.
The abbreviation ORM is becoming widely used among online marketers today. It stands for Online Reputation Management, which will be discussed in the next section below. But before we deep dive into this concept, let’s first define the difference between reputation monitoring and reputation management
and how the two relate to each other. These two terms are often used interchangeably even though they have very different meanings.
Online reputation monitoring is the act of listening to online conversations. It involves using programs and setting up alerts to stay aware of when your company, brand, slogan, product/service or company spokesperson(s) are mentioned online. Reputation monitoring is important because customers are becoming more vocal about their questions, comments and dissatisfaction with products and services, and social media gives them a channel to share their opinions with the world. Reputation monitoring, the act of listening to brand mentions online, is only a small component of online reputation management.
Online reputation management (ORM) is a much more complex strategy than just monitoring online conversations. Not only does it involve listening to social conversations, but it includes responding to comments and interacting with your online audience to influence their opinions about your brand. Reputation monitoring is about listening whereas reputation management is about participating.
Simply put, online reputation management combines traditional marketing and public relations with search engine marketing; it involves managing the search engine results to protect your company’s brand reputation from negative exposure online. Keep in mind that online searchers rarely view more than 2 pages of search engine results, so high rankings for good publicity are the ultimate goals, which will in turn push any bad publicity down the search engine listings and out of public view.
Knowing what’s being said about your brand, products and services online is only the first step to effective online reputation management. Based on what you hear, you need to be equipped to effectively take action.
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