I’ll start off with an interesting question: Have you ego-searched? Now to make it more interesting, have you tried doing the same on your brand or your company in Google, Yahoo, Live or any other search engine lately. If not, then it’s time to do so. In today’s business world, online reputation management (ORM) becomes all the more important and crucial to any brand/company’s success as any other marketing strategy.

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Every day, millions of your customers are online. Someone, somewhere is discussing something important about your brand, business or related areas which might be much concern to your firm. It can be your employees, your customers, your competitors or any one from your industry. They might be talking about you or building buzz around you or just criticizing, complaining to others about your brand, service or your hyped new product launch. It’s a known fact that a great brand takes time, money and manpower to build but it can get tarnished by these bad mouthing. So monitoring your brand online becomes much important in today’s hyperconnected world.

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So what is Online Reputation Management or ORM?

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It is the ongoing act of monitoring a brand or name online, proactively protecting the name via online channels, and skillfully counteracting negative online content from parties unrelated to your company. These words can come from several sources, namely blog postings, consumer alert sites, community web postings, even unique websites that were created for the sole purpose of defaming a name or company.

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Yes, in today’s world, running a successful business is no kids play. Companies, no matter how large or small, have two brand images to maintain: one is online, and the other is offline. If the online message is not coherent with the offline counterpart, the company’s overall branding will have a negative effect with the consumer buyer. You may recall cases like “Dell Hell” or Google-bombing “miserable failure”.

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What I want to bring forward is a thought. A thought of how a business can be more aligned with customers. Think about when you searched online for product reviews (I has similar experience with book reviews) and you came across reviews from certain customer(s) about his bad experience with your business. Now chances are that you may hold back for that specific brand or company. So this makes, online reputation management (ORM) all the more important in today’s scenario when Web has made it easy for customers to collaborately voice against bad product, weak service and lame experiences.

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This brings to the point the WHAT, WHERE & HOW aspect of Online Reputation Management (ORM):

WHAT TO TRACK:

  • Brands
  • Products
  • Company
  • Key Executives
  • Competitors
  • Influencers
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Types of content to monitor include: News Search, Social Media/Tags, Search Results, Blogs and Forums, Social networking sites, Niche networking sites like Twitter, Friendfeed.

WHERE TO TRACK:

HOW TO TRACK:

  • Optimize your website with optimum keywords to ensure high rankings in search engine result page.  This will aid in your site’s positives showing up higher than another’s negatives.
  • Set up regular, consistent monitoring of online content for your company, brand(s), product(s), and key executives, competitors etc. But how much time to give to which tool is something of another concern. May be using the tool where you can track the maximum influencers or the tool which captures maximum feedback can be the starting point.
  • If you are the unfortunate recipient of negative online feedback, establish an online dialogue right away to address the situation. Do your research to see if the complaint is legitimate. If it’s not, provide your facts and ask for a retraction or correction of the submitter. Either way, be prepared to respond openly and honestly with your own blog. If necessary, hire a professional who can address the situation with due diligence.
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So what kinds of tactics have you employed till now to protect your name online. If not, then surely this post has enough juice to sought out ways to do that. I’d be curious to hear you out. Please comment below about your experiences.

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P.S. Thanks to TopRankBlog for inputs.

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