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Online Reputation Management Basics

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In our internet-centric world, business owners & managers must attend to online reputation management basics as part of your digital presence.

What Is Online Reputation Management?

Online reputation management involves the process or managing the public perception of a business, nonprofit, or individual in the digital world – i.e., the internet. Online reputation management programs include a number of reputation activities including:
Online review solicitation programs
Programs to deal with negative or false reviews
Handling negative online articles
Deploying influencer marketing to build positive messages about your organization

Why Is Online Reputation Management Important?

Online Reputation Management programs are important because they help you maintain a positive brand on the internet. The cost of negative reviews & negative “buzz” about your organization, products, or services is quite high. Here’s how & why:

  • First, your online reputation affects buying decisions from prospective customers.
  • Second, a formal, consistent online reputation program helps you ferret out & deal with negative reviews.
  • Third, you can receive feedback on products, services, or the customer experience that’s an invaluable source of business intelligence that can be used to improve products, services, or customer care.

Did You Know:

60% of US consumers say they would avoid buying products or services from a brand that’s viewed as untrustworthy.
59% of shoppers say they conduct online research before deciding to make a purchase.
97% of consumers say they consult online product reviews before buying a product or service.

The 4 Key Steps of Deploying An Online Reputation Management Program

Step 1: AUDIT your online reputation
The first step in this process is to determine where you are in the spectrum of positive to negative reputation on the internet. Follow these simple steps to start the audit process:
1) Open up an “incognito” version of your browser. This incognito browser window will bring up search results that are not based on your history of internet searches. This means you’ll see search results that are not filtered by what you have already searched for on your computer.
2) Search for your company or non-profit name, product name, or service name.
3) Review your Google Business Profile to see if the information is accurate, and if there are any reviews (positive or negative) about your company or non-profit.
4) Make a prioritized list of positive & negative reviews or comments about your business or non-profit – and the platform on which the information appeared.

Step 2: Develop a strategic online reputation management program outline
1) Develop a list of online reputation management strategies you’ll deploy, tied to specific action items – with timelines & assignments on who’s handling those tasks.
2) As part of the overall strategic online reputation management plan, develop a list of high-priority items that must be addressed ASAP. Examples would include: updating your Google Business Profile, addressing negative reviews, etc.

Step 3: Document the online reputation management plan

Items that should be in your written online reputation management plan include:

  • Who’s responsible for ongoing oversight of your reputation on various internet platforms
  • Review the audit results, find the common denominators of typical compliments & complaints – and then develop messaging / standard responses to the most likely types of comments, reviews, or problems

Step 4: Consistently deploy the online reputation management plan
A reputation management program only works if you’re consistently working it. A successful online reputation management plan will have the following:

  • Ongoing solicitations for reviews
  • Ongoing monitoring of reviews & responses to reviews
  • Ongoing monitoring & management of brand mentions across the spectrum of internet platforms: general internet, social media platforms, industry forums, and the like.

In this day and age, every company or non-profit should have an online reputation management plan in place. Follow these guidelines for online reputation management basics & you’ll be on your way to a successful and positive presence in the digital world.

Need help with online reputation management? Contact DeWinter Marketing & PR for assistance.


Courtney DeWinter is the president & founder of Denver-based DeWinter Marketing & PR in Denver, Colorado. She is a marketing & PR consultant with 25+ years of experience in branding, marketing, public relations, websites & journalism.

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