Online Reputation Management: A Case Study
Online reputation management is a term that is heard in various circles today, more than ever. It is not a term that is always understood in the correct context, but can be a very important factor to people or businesses that are in the public eye. Much information is collected every day that is used to sway public opinions and companies that specialize in online reputation management are busy making those data arcs rise and fall. This is the realm of political campaigns, legal opinions, law making and high profile media personalities, it is also a factor in digital advertising, product placement, and retail development strategies. All around, an online reputation can make or break people, products and how the public views everything.
When you watch anyone or anything in the media, movies, or television, there is an online reputation being managed by someone. Therefore, online reputation management is fast becoming a very important part of all commercial industries, as the information age moves steadily forward. The price of negative or positive influence over any online reputation is becoming more valuable than real estate or advertising, in the big picture of public opinion. So here are some things that everyone should know about the management of online reputations today.
What is online reputation management
Online reputation management or ORM is the control or influence over the reputation of an individual, business, brand name or other entity over the Internet or the World Wide Web. Its origins are as a public relations term but has grown with the expansion of online services, social media, and the global marketplace. Also, the term has become synonymous with reputation management companies that specialize in online media focused damage control for companies, celebrities, and other reputation challenged personalities.
ORM is primarily focused on the issue of search engines and how information on them is skewed by events, data or things like public opinion. Online reputation management concerns itself with the management of search indexing and the results created by website traffic, as it relates to products or services. ORM companies attempt to form strategies that are recommended to those in need of reputation management or sometimes referrals that are offered to such entities without prior solicitations.
ORM has several ethical gray areas that are engaged by users, reputation management companies, and search engine optimization specialists to create tactics and influence online results, both negatively and positively.
Importance of Online Reputation Management
When an individual or brand name is being negatively influenced, it can impact things like sales, votes or general public opinion in ways that are devastating. Sometimes this is due to an event that must be downplayed by matching the negative or positive influences within the online media. Sometimes this is due to unbalanced content or news being driven throughout the online marketplaces, such that it must be given counteractive media coverage and alternative viewpoints expressed across social networks. In any case, a bad reputation must be actively addressed, once it has begun to influence the zeitgeist of the greater mass media and ultimately the scope of public opinion.
This kind of active online reputation management can be critical, especially when it comes to brand name reputations for big corporations. A single incident or media frenzy focusing on an extremely negative view of a company or product can make waves very quickly. Any widely promoted negative portrayal can turn into a more widely accepted fact, even without real data backing up that negative influencing incident or event. Action must be taken quickly, especially if it is at a critical time in a product campaign or during a high volume sales time, such as during the Christmas holiday season.
A negative reputation on a toy during the high holiday sales time, it could kill the entire profits for a season promotion or cause the item to be pulled off the shelves after the holidays completely. Such is the very big picture influence of online reputations on products and businesses all throughout the year, and not just in the realm of advertising.
Major platforms to build Online Reputations
Before an individual or business has any online reputation, social media, and the search engines are how a reputation gets developed. This can be done with a combination of keyword influencing strategies and be developing a greater online presence. The ability to do this can take a short or long amount of time, this depending on how well know the entity is in the global landscape. Even so, most people or products start at a similar level of online reputation, being none or very little at first. Once a reputation begins growing within the online marketplaces and social media networks, this growth can exponentially explode until it becomes impossible to dictate without complex data gathering techniques.
The online reputation built by search engine optimization is frequently used by advertising to create an online presence. This method is very popular today because it is possible to use this kind of influence at any level of reputation management. Small companies and individuals can benefit greatly from building online reputations within the major search engines. This kind of influence also can reap great profits and benefits, when large corporations make use of it.
In cases where a reputation has now become negatively influenced, online reputation management strategy is used by companies selling such services. Among the bigger companies in this industry are ones like BrandYourself, Get Satisfaction, Lithium Technologies, Reputation.com, Submit Express and Vendasta Technologies. Each specializes in the own brand or style of online reputation management for individuals, brand names, products or businesses. Their unique style of reputation damage control is what makes them able to be competitive in this new and growing market.
Major strategies of Online Reputation Management
Online reputation management strategies are based the same principles of feedback on websites like eBay, Amazon, and Wikipedia. A survey or data gathering is conducted concerning the reputation of an individual or business, this is compared to a similar surveying of primary targets within search engine optimization algorithms. These allow for a more specific strategy to be created, using tactics that are familiar to most online reputation management companies.
Such tactics include improving reputation by tagging of white papers, positive customer reviews and other published materials to elicit response through search engine optimization. Another tactic used is the publishing of original content, social media web pages, and positive articles on websites in order to counteract the impact of negative reputation influences. Submission of online press releases on websites that are considered authorities within a particularly related industry, or offering alternative public opinions is also effective.
Less ethical options may be used such as spam bots, denial of service attacks on websites, creating fake blog posts giving supportive responses, removal of negative media posts online, taking legal action against negative influencing media websites and using anonymous profiles to write positive reviews and/or write negatives against oppositional media. These are not the most ethical ways to change an online reputation, but often they are the way to achieve the most rapid results.
More acceptable methods of changing an online reputation include soliciting public debate in order to get more positive commentary, offering free products in exchange for counteractive reviews, responding to public criticism in forums for such debate, or more specific things. Strategies like the removal of images that are in violation of copyrights and removal of media profiles that may be negatively influencing people, employers, and associated businesses are not considered unethical or outside acceptable influencing of the public.
You can see these tactics being appropriated by political campaigns, lobbyist groups, and television advertising on a daily basis. The influence of such tactics has a direct impact on the news, social media, and online website traffic every day, sometimes within only seconds, minutes or hours of their implementation. This kind of effect is what makes online reputation management strategies such a powerful thing. The same tactics can be used to influence stock markets, retail prices, local activism, regional opinions, international interest rates, gambling betting statistics, and even shopping trends throughout a holiday season. The power and immediate influence of online reputation management strategies are only limited to the creative methods that companies can strategize.
Making use of online reputation manipulation can create negative or positive influences, making or breaking lives, markets and almost anything imaginable. That is why having control over an online reputation is an essential part of all online presence, so much that it is often put into place before a campaign or promotion even begins. Online reputation management is quickly becoming part of the development process for many products and services marketed around the world today. If not always part of being a prepared political candidate, it surely is kept in mind, just in case something unforeseen happens during the campaigning. No matter what, it is online reputation and damage control that are considered necessary evils in the greater world of public opinion, as it exists on the Internet and the World Wide Web.
Can you think of an industry that wouldn’t benefit from this kind of management and manipulation of reputation, in either negative or positive ways? It should be a little difficult at least.
How a website owner will get the benefits of Online Reputation Management
In the end, it is the results of online reputation management that really matter. If someone is a website owner, having a positive online reputation will help bring business, website traffic and new customers to their web pages on a regular basis. This positive reputation is likely to increase their web sales, customer growth and general return on investment for their websites. Without this positive reputation, a website may generate plenty of traffic, but not turn those many hits into conversions or positive sales totals. In fact, a negative reputation can drive business into a downward spiral that may be impossible to recover from in the long haul.
This is why investment in an online reputation management strategy is often the key to a website and its long-term success or failure. For websites that have had their reputation damaged by public opinion or other influencing factors, it can be essential to focus on managing this negative influence in the worldwide media. Doing this kind of damage control is the primary work of online reputation management companies and other influence promoters in the world of information exchange. Global reputations are fought and died for on the digital landscape, both literally and metaphorically.
An online reputation is something that can be hard to recover from, especially once the real damage has been done. In the information age, your personal reputation or that of your business maybe one of the most important pieces of real estate you will ever have. But it is not something that you own in any sense, rather it is cultivated and must be managed, so it doesn’t get lost. This is why a whole industry has grown around the concept and practices of online reputation management today.
ORM is not just another acronym, it could become an essential part of modern information exchange and personal data systems. For most of us, it is an unseen part of our everyday lives and only necessary, when nothing else can save us from outside influences. Doing your own reputation management online is another part of our digitally enhanced lives that we must consider as the online world expands around us. Think about your reputation and how you can keep intact, don’t be caught under the influence unexpectedly.
If your reputation was being negatively impacted by an online media influence, what do you think your reaction would be? This is the way to best consider why online reputation management is becoming such an important industry in the information age. Is your reputation more valuable than your home or the money in your bank accounts? Management experts that specialize in online reputations would say, yes. Today more than ever, a reputation is becoming the most valuable thing a person can have, but still is not something they can own tangible.
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