Online reputation management isn't just good business -- it's big business and companies are tripping over themselves to control the way they are perceived online.
Although the concept of online reputation management is relatively recent and highly fluid, there are some common understandings that are emerging about how companies can best protect their brand against negative, web-based PR.
The view from 10,000 feet is that businesses have to take both a proactive and a reactive approach to reputation management. It's not enough to simply monitor the Internet for potentially damaging commentary. These days, the best online reputation managers are taking proactive steps to promote positive discussion about their brand and their products.
Without a doubt the companies will enjoy the strongest brands in the coming years will be the ones who are most adept at navigating the challenging waters of consumer-driven online content. If you're unfamiliar with online reputation management here are some ways you can get in the game.
- Social media monitoring. The most significant online development of the past decade has been in the area of social media. Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter have completely revolutionized the way consumers receive information and interact with each other. For your online reputation management efforts to succeed you'll need to find a way to monitor user comments and create meaningful dialogues with your base.
- SEO initiatives. SEO (search engine optimization) is a proactive response to potentially damaging online content. When a consumer performs an online search, search engines apply proprietary processes to rank search results. Web savvy entrepreneurs can exploit SEO technology to bury unfavorable comments deep in the list of search results by optimizing for newly created or existing favorable comments.
- Non-SEO initiatives. There are also plenty of opportunities for business owners and leaders to engage in non-SEO management initiatives. Some online management services feature data mining to provide companies with a comprehensive analysis of consumer-created media in blogs, forums, podcasts, and other web-based resources. The result is a highly accurate consumer sentiment gauge that can be used to drive PR strategies and campaigns.