Definition of reputation management
“Online Reputation Management, or ORM, is the practice of consistent research and analysis of a person’s personal or professional, business or industrial reputation, as represented by content in all types of online media “.
The ubiquitous nature of the Internet has resulted in an increasing number of consumers and retailers using the Internet as a form of communication through email, advertising, and business transactions. In the UK during 2007, the total value of online sales was £ 163 billion. This figure showed a staggering 30% growth over the previous 12 months. (Office for National Statistics, 2008)
Regardless of whether a business actually conducts business transactions online; all businesses must be aware of how they are perceived. A negative perception online can not only affect offline sales and investment, it can also deter potential employees from joining an organization, effectively crippling a business from both revenue and new talent. In Ten Tactics That Could Save Your Reputation Online, Andy Beal writes that “Let’s assume everything will hit the web” and that entrepreneurs should “Monitor …[their] online reputation as often as your email “(Beal, A 2008)
Online reputation management is accomplished through internet monitoring technology that provides early warning to businesses about referrals to them on the internet. By scanning the Internet for target words or phrases, company name, product brands, and the names of key people; a report based on the positive or negative nature of how the business is perceived is returned to the user.
These services allow organizations to immediately notice negative reviews, blogs, or new stories. At the same time, it notifies intellectual copyright owners if a registered trademark or copyrighted work has been published on the Internet, allowing legal owners to challenge any possible copyright infringement.
The areas that are protected by online reputation management companies, also sometimes called reputation monitoring companies, are:
– Trademark scan: report on the use of registered trademarks on the Internet.
– PPC: Inform competitors who bid by brand / product name in online advertising campaigns.
– News articles: News and media entries will be identified, classified and reported.
– Multimedia: YouTube and popular image sharing sites such as Flickr will be scanned for results related to a customer’s reputation or brand.
This type of service is defined as passive, as it only provides detection. Active Online Reputation Management uses the technical skills of search engine optimization (SEO) to displace negative references to a customer from search engine results. Typically, a successful active strategy would be to eliminate inaccurate references through appeals and negotiations while simultaneously working to displace negative references by increasing the ranking of positive results on Google and Yahoo-Bing. Negative entries are then removed when possible, or buried deep in search engine results pages to minimize their exposure.
As with any product, prices vary based on the level of service each company provides, from free to many thousands per month for large organizations with multiple products and brands to monitor.