Companies need to diversify their online reputation management strategies in order to keep up with the rising complexities in terms of information acquisition. In 2020, companies will be prompted to manipulate earned, owned and paid content if they want to maintain an impressive stance.
We are way past the old ways of doing things, and consumers expect serious brands to move with the tides of change. Classic features like voice searches (e.g. Alexa), augmented and virtual realities, and shoppable posts will continue to excite consumers in 2020, and brands should strive hard to be at the center of these excitements.
In the digital era, it's no longer enough for businesses to rely on word of mouth. Most consumers are searching for companies online to learn about them before making purchases, and what they find can drastically affect their decisions. Anyone can post a negative review or an aggressive article about you, and because consumers trust Google results and online reviews, it's important to manage those results to ensure consumers see the best version of your business.
Many businesses are turning to online reputation management services to ensure their online reputations accurately reflect their products and services. Online reputation management services are designed to help you build and maintain a positive online image. They use a variety of tactics to replace defamatory or unflattering web content with information that shows you or your business at its best. Online reputation management companies can also create a wealth of positive content, such as blog posts and microsites; update your social media feeds; manage your online reviews and more. These strategies will help repair poor reputations and maintain positive ones.
Individuals with more at stake — like a money-making personality or billions to their name — may need to bring in the big guns.
Reputation management is a fast-growing industry
As we’ve pointed out, if your reputation is down the tubes, so is your business. In fact, 87% of customers will reverse a purchase decision after viewing negative content about a brand or product online.
It’s no surprise, then, that businesses shell out tens of thousands of dollars a month in an effort to preserve or improve their reputations. If you knew you could prevent a potentially devastating crisis, wouldn’t you pull out the credit card?
As search engines have all but replaced word-of-mouth referrals, online reputation management has become an industry that purports to exercise massive sway over public opinion. A company’s reputation is its Yelp rating, New York Times takedown or viral Colbert burn. What appears at the top of the search results is what people see, believe and respond to.
While most reputation management companies use generic tactics focused on removing an unwanted article or site, we have spent more than ten years tracking and analyzing hundreds of millions of data points and developing unique tools to inform strategies and recommendations for clients. Our focus on data analysis allows us to provide solutions to clients using evidence-based analysis and methods.
Our proprietary tracking and analytics platform helps individuals and corporations understand not just how their brand is experienced online, but why. For example, it can help identify the specific underlying reasons that a particular article seems unmovable. With this knowledge, we can help devise a strategy that will either weaken the negative content or improve alternate, positive content or platforms to replace it.
Do positive reviews make a business more trusted?
Yes. Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more. One of the primary markers of trust is a business’s mere appearance in the search results. But a business can’t depend on their appearance alone.
49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business.
Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business.
If online reputation management was an afterthought before reading this article, these statistics might change your disposition. A company that does not exist online does not exist at all in the view of the modern customer. And how that company appears — with or without stars, positive or negative reviews — is equally important.
Although the data above focuses on local businesses, the principle holds true for any business, regardless of their physical location or presence.
When trying to make sense of your online reputation it is important to realize this key truth: Your online reputation is your reputation. And if you don’t appear online, you don’t exist.
Can reputation management be abused?
Yes. Reputation management is abused for nefarious purposes. Like nearly everything in life, reputation management has an ethical dark side. You can’t simply decide that reputation management is inherently evil or good. It’s used for both.
One Business Insider article takes a bazooka shot at reputation management, starting with the headline: “Inside The Sleazy World Of Reputation Management, Where People Pay To Control What You See On The Internet.”
Reputation management exists, in part, because people are more likely to believe, share and spread negative news than they are positive news. We, as humans, have evolved to react to threats, which has developed a "negativity bias."
Essentially, bad news gets more clicks, more attention, and, ultimately more revenue for the media outlets. That's why a single misstep can snowball to have lasting effects on your reputation.
Reputations need tending. Yet many businesses lack the time, expertise or knowledge to touch up their Wikipedia entry, polish up the About Us page or solicit a few more positive reviews on GlassDoor.
A local mom and pop coffee shop may need professional insight into improving their Yelp ratings. An online retailer may want to help to spruce up their Amazon product descriptions and ratings.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to reputation management. There are, however, a number of legitimate, ethical, and effective tools to navigate the process.