Posted on October 25, 2012 · Posted in General

Online reputations have slowly but steadily entered the awareness of many companies and consumers.  Managing public perception of your business is a thriving industry that promises to become a bigger part of corporate budgets.  According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, almost 75 percent of a global company’s value is based on its reputation.

Protecting your brand is not the easy task it was when the internet was young.  The channels for discussing—and criticizing—your company are multiplying as you read this. In addition to the dozens of popular social media sites that generate petabytes of opinions and critiques regularly, there are billions of potential websites that can host a scathing review of your products, employees or business.

With so many possible ways to denigrate your company, it is no surprise online reputation management teams are being called in to monitor information about online reputation and branding for businesses. These specialists develop strategies to enhance and protect you reputation online. The majority of these companies and programs are fairly comprehensive, but it is incumbent upon you to ensure that every possible aspect of your online reputation is receiving the proper attention it deserves.

There are many common areas on the internet that are overlooked or ignored by even seasoned ORM professionals.  You and your management team should be discussing these reputational channels to ensure comprehensiveness.

  1. Photos and videos—The damage a single unflattering picture or photo can do is widely recognized by the press and the public.  Consider the immense firestorm that the British royal family endured in the wake of unflattering pictures of Prince Harry and Duchess Kate.  Many ORM companies fully recognize the risks that such images can pose, but lack effective strategies to track down and remove them from the web.
  2. Ex-employees—What ex-employees are saying and posting about your company or personnel can be embarrassing or harmful to your business.  Although plenty of ORM teams closely monitor the rants and nasty comments of fired or departed employees, it is worth reminding them.
  3. Blog comments—It is relatively easy to track the topics of most blog posts through their headers, but combing through the related comments is a commonly overlooked task.  A few malicious comments on well-established blogs can severely damage your online reputation and develop into a much bigger crisis if not properly headed off.
  4. Overenthusiastic responding—You may be the worst part of your ORM strategy.  In an effort to put a human face on your company, you may be posting too many comments on a variety of social media sites.  This may earn you new fans or customers, but, if not handled properly, you may accidently turn off more people than you attract.  A few errant words on Twitter have created PR debacles for more than few companies.  If you are not a well experienced PR person, it is often in your best interests to let the professionals handle the social media.

Managing your brand’s online reputation is no longer an ancillary consideration for businesses.  How the public and your potential customers view you will have an enormous impact on your growth and profitability.  If you have engaged an ORM team, make sure they are covering all their bases.  If you are looking to hire one, then listen carefully to what kinds of programs they offer. After all, the future of your company may be in their hands.