It’s easier to curate an admirable online reputation for your brand than it is to fix a reputation you’re not proud of. For small businesses especially, proactively setting your business up to protect against potential threats in the future is important and could possibly be one of the most crucial parts of your marketing efforts.
Companies can lose up to 70% of their customers when faced with unpredicted risk, like a data breach or unsettling review from a customer. Small business owners typically don’t have the extra budget it can take to repair the damage caused by these unfortunate events. Planning ahead and incorporating online reputation management strategies as part of your digital marketing will provide benefits to not only your consumer’s perception of your company, but also to other areas like revenue, recruiting and overall authority.
Some of the most known reputation management strategies include:
- Partnering with PR agencies
- Brand awareness campaigns
- Publishing positive content
- Leveraging organic and paid search
All of these tools are valuable in themselves and are often used separately or on a campaign basis by companies to combat risk. However, there’s a missed opportunity when all of the above strategies are not leveraged in a unified and proactive measure.
For those who aren’t as familiar with Online Reputation Management (ORM), it’s a digital strategy that aligns your company with all of the preferred content you want consumers to view when they search for your brand online. Most brand name searches display various websites such as social media platforms, review sites, company profiles, partner sites, positive news articles and more.
When ORM tactics are executed correctly and consistently, any potential threat that comes up surrounding your company won’t stick around and cause unexpected damage. This is because ORM tactics hold a significant advantage when leveraged accordingly.
Below, I’ve broken down the most important aspects of ORM to better help illustrate how these tactics work together to provide substantial benefits to all areas of your company.
Consumers' perceptions of your business revolve around the content your company shares and is mentioned in. Publishing meaningful and credible content your company stands behind on a regular basis will ensure you’re actively involved online and are at the forefront of your industry’s standards.
The type of content that drives your brand’s reputation varies across industries, but can be bucketed into the following categories:
- Brand awareness campaigns that leverage blog posts or social media strategies.
- Business profiles that include the most important aspects of your business and its executives.
- A Wikipedia profile to establish credibility in your niche.
- Review-based websites where consumers and employees can disclose opinions that will help shape future consumer and employee decisions.
For small businesses, taking advantage of content initiatives that drive more business is just as important, and pairing the two could increase profitability and put a purposeful stake in your digital footprint.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Using SEO as a way to fortify search results will help boost trust signals to search engines and work towards suppressing unfavorable mentions of your brand. Most businesses turn to SEO when trying to outrank competitors’ products and services, but it’s often looked over as a reputation strategy.
Optimizing your website and other owned digital assets is a good place to start. It’s also not a bad idea to do some background research on competitors in your industry to see how their search results stack up. Curating a diverse set of search results will help tell a compelling story that makes your business stand out.
Whether it’s building organic backlinks to the pages you’d like to see when someone Google’s your business or optimizing those pages with the correct elements such as title tags, headers and meta descriptions, integrating SEO with your content strategy will ensure your preferred brand image is being amplified.
Public Relations (PR)
Partnering with a PR agency or creating an internal PR team to relay news through public media is another meaningful reputation tool for small businesses. While media coverage alone can be beneficial to your business, marrying your PR and SEO efforts will prove a much more effective return.
Whatever positive press coverage you’re seeking, ensuring the content is well-optimized for Google will allow it to potentially rank and gain even more traction than just a generic press release or announcement would. Elements like title tags, backlinks and headers are all easy ways to incorporate SEO into your PR strategy and will also help reinforce your preferred brand search results.
When the PR team is brought in from the beginning of your reputation management planning, the time constraint surrounding some of these announcements can be easily streamlined.
It’s no surprise that small business owners seek short-term gains in order to continue investing in their company, which is a smart business move, especially when you’re first starting out.
However, taking the time to do the research behind the online reputation management strategies listed above and implementing them accordingly will provide up to 5X more value than the more direct-result campaigns will.
How are you planning to protect your small business from risk in the future?
About the Author
Kayla M works for ReputationManagement.com where she leverages her passions of relationship building and all things digital marketing.