What Does Online Reputation Management Involve?

There’s been a lot of talk about reputation and as a small business owner, you may have probably had several internet marketing consultants contact you offering this service.

But what exactly is online reputation?

This article looks at the definition of the term and how it applies to your small business.

It refers to the character, repute, name and standing of your business in the online media.

Almost everyday, somebody somewhere on the internet is talking about your business whether it is about your employees, your brands, your services, your events or anything that relates to your business such as the latest happenings in your industry or reviews about your competitor.

There are many online places that people can talk about your business such as:

* Social Media – this includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

Anyone can post an update, send a tweet or upload a video on these social media networks

* Blogs- a blogger may write an article about your business or his/her followers may talk about your business in the comments section.

* Review Websites- there are lots of review websites where the public can rate a local business such as Yelp and Google Places.

In light of this, your small business has to take measures to monitor and manage your online reputation.

Think of online reputation management as the online version of Public Relations. It’s simply managing and improving the public image of your business brand in the online world.

A business’s reputation can be damaged very easily due to:

* the ease at which anyone can post content on the web,

* the speed at which the content can be spread and

* how permanently the content can remain on the web for many years.

With the world increasingly becoming within reach of our fingertips, small business owners should not ignore or wish away their online reputation management but take proactive measures that will be a golden investment towards their long-term bottom line and success.

What does online reputation management involve?

There are a number of activities involved in managing your business’s reputation online each of which must be part of a carefully considered marketing strategy:

1. Creating your online branded image- this involves being visible online using resources under your own control such having your own website, blogs, social media accounts, business directory listings, web 2.0 sites, syndicated articles, image portfolios etc.

The advantage of this strategy is that you can control a lot of search engine listings with your own information about your business instead of having those search results being dominated by other people talking about your business.

2. Monitoring your reputation- this involves keeping abreast on a daily basis about what people are saying about your business on the different web media.

Using free and paid monitoring tools, it’s possible to collate all the data about your company keywords from different sources and know both the positive and negative opinions about your business.

3. Managing your reputation- this involves taking the results of your monitoring activity and taking measures to control bad publicity and to draw attention to the positive publicity about your business.

This is probably the hardest part of reputation management as it involves:

* Dealing with negative reviews,

* Engaging with those who posted negative content,

* Maintaining a positive and truthful position without falling for the temptation to engage in an online word fight.

* Having the courage to apologize, admit your shortcomings and rectify a situation

* Thank those who have contributed positive reviews and incorporating them into your online and offline marketing content.

These are the three main activities involved in online reputation management that will help a small business to have a positive online brand image.