Last updated: Public relations for the internet: Online reputation management

Public relations for the internet: Online reputation management


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Customers are talking about your brand. And whether you like it or not, through avenues such as social media, online review sites, blog comments, and community forums, your brand has made an impression. Content about your brand can appear in so many places online that it can be very difficult to monitor the conversations and truly know what’s being said. Because of this, more companies are investing in online reputation management (ORM).

ORM is the act of monitoring and engaging in activities to understand and improve the overall public impression a company has online. In other words, it’s public relations for the internet.

Rule #1 of online reputation management: Be where your customers are

The number one danger to ORM is when companies are not present where their customers are interacting. Most brands now know that they need to be active on social media. In fact, some have gotten so good at handling customer questions and concerns through social media that it’s their preferred method of communication.

However, social media is only one avenue where your customers are talking about you online. Your customers are not only tweeting or posting on Instagram about you, but they are also gaining support praising or pummeling you on community forums, or the comment section of review sites.

The truth is that on most of these forums, the customer inquiries, concerns, or complaints go unseen and unanswered by a representative of the business. Instead, the forums become unsupervised support groups for customers as other users share similar questions or poor experiences that they have encountered with in your brand.

Today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it back to you: Responding to negative content

In most cases, online forums, communities, or review sites allow companies to respond to feedback. When the feedback is negative, ideally the company should respond as an affirmation. This is not a time to become defensive or downplay the customer’s experience. It is certainly not a time to attack, as this will not be a battle that your brand will win. The first step is to apologize for the experience and take the conversation offline.

Many review sites and service communities rank high on search engine optimization (SEO). If a company is mentioned negatively on these sites, the best plan of action is to give a short response recognizing the issue, apologizing, then taking the conversation offline.

Invite the user to send a direct message or an email. If a company chooses to go back and forth with a consumer, each time the page re-publishes with additional content about the company, search engines will push the content. In turn, the ranking of this negative review can improve. With this being the case, a company should avoid mentioning its brand or product names in its response, because doing so can make webpages with negative comments better optimized to rank for keywords the company cares about.

It’s half-full: Pushing positive content

Not everything about online reputation management focuses on reacting to negative commentary. Companies still have a great amount of control on how a brand is perceived online.

A key aspect of managing a brand’s online reputation is to create positive content that will rank well in search engine result pages (SERP). Pushing out credible content, like customer testimonials, thought leadership, or investing in banner ads on relevant pages that link to your company website is a great way to increase awareness online and build your brand’s reputation.

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