Every person, place or thing has an online reputation. However, the term “reputation” can mean different things depending on the situation.
Here’s a glossary of various meanings when it comes to “online reputation.”
Your online reputation (speaking of you personally and/or your business; healthcare practice, etc.), is determined by what ranks high in search engine results. Do the results reveal positive or negative information? This includes online reviews; media coverage; legal matters; blogs and more.
For example, a positive online reputation can include:
- Consistently earning 4- and 5-star reviews.
- Local media articles and videos that share good things about you and your company.
- Flattering photographs in Flickr, Google Images, etc.
- A steady stream of company-produced and published videos in YouTube and Vimeo.
- An updated blog with a minimum of one or two helpful blog posts per week.
- Active social media accounts and participating in online conversations in Twitter, Facebook, etc.
These all add up to creating a maintaining a positive online reputation for both individuals and companies.
Of course, a negative online reputation is quite the opposite:
- Negative reviews left by customers with little to no attempt by the business owner or manager to communicate with unhappy customers in trying to solve a problem.
- Media coverage that may reflect your business in a negative way to current and future customers (complaints about your company; lawsuits; investigations and other legal matters, etc.).
- Employee complaints on GlassDoor and other employment review websites.
- Stale and outdated information on your company website or blog (if you have a blog).
- Lack of activity and active conversations in social media accounts.
Emergency Online Reputation
While a negative online reputation can be corrected with the right strategy – and time – an instance could arise with any business or professional which may require immediate attention.
If something more severe occurs, such as a legal matter; product recall; several negative reviews, etc., your online reputation will most likely change as well. When this happens, you may need to take quick steps to prevent your reputation from going down the drain in a matter of days.
This action is referred to as “emergency online reputation.”
Typically, websites that contain large amounts of content usually earn higher rankings in Google and other search engines. These include digital newspapers, television and radio outlets; online review sites; courts and other legal websites (including arrest reports and mugshots). Therefore, if your “bad” news falls into one or more of these categories, it could quickly move to the Top 10 in search results almost overnight.
This means you’ll need to do everything you should have been doing all along, but you’ll need to pick up the pace; generate positive content; get it published online and increase your social networking activity.
Emergency online reputation can turn things around, but it can take up to three months (or more) to bury the negative posts appearing in search results. It all depends on the severity of your negative reputation.
On an individual level, emergency steps are required when an arrest report and mugshot photos appear in the Top 10 positions in search results, as well as lawsuits; ugly divorce proceedings; bankruptcy and other legal matters. White collar crimes such as embezzlement, fraud and insider trading troubles typically will also earn high rankings in Google. These kinds of problems make future employment difficult.
Online Reputation Management
Online reputation management is the process by which you are constantly creating a positive online presence to improve and solidify your company’s reputation or your reputation as an individual.
It’s like going to the bank and getting a loan: the best time to get a loan is when you don’t need one. The best time to shop for a new car is when you don’t need one.
Online reputation management is the same thing.
By consistently writing and publishing good content about your company; its products, services and its employees, you’ll easily fight off any minor negative burp that appears on the radar.
Individuals – including high school and college students – need to always be improving their online reputation as scholarship reviews and employment opportunities are on the horizon. Clean up your Facebook, Instagram and other social media accounts. Remove unsavory photos and personal tags. Foul language in Twitter and blog posts also creates a bad online reputation for individuals.
An online reputation management (also called “ORM”) plan can be created within a day but the process of implementing a plan never ends. Always be on the lookout for positive content, photograph and video opportunities in improving and solidifying your reputation.