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Last year, the prevalence of online reviews rose from 67% (2010) to 86%! If you are a business owner, then you already know what this means for you. As more of your potential and existing customers begin to set store by opinions expressed in online reviews, reputation management becomes increasingly more important for you. Just look at the various reputational teams that are working behind most popular names and brands. It doesn’t take them too long to turn any subject into a worldwide trending topic.
Given that, the reputation of your company is that important, should you be handing off its management to someone else? Yes, but there are a few conditions. The company you choose should be verified, have a lot of experience, and know exactly what your business needs. Only then would they do a good job reputation management.
Before hiring an online reputation management firm, we suggest you ask them the following questions. Good answers to them will increase your chances of hiring a competent company who knows what you need:
What is Online Reputation Management?
Also known as ORM, Online Reputation Management is the management of the reputation of a brand in a proactive manner. That includes monitoring what people are saying about the said brand, promoting positive feedback from customers, and responding to negative feedback in a way that resolves the issue.
While it may seem that ORM shares many characteristics with customer service, an expert on the subject should know where they differ. When you ask a firm how the two vary, they should be able to tell you that unlike traditional customer service, ORM is performed in a much larger arena, i.e., the internet.
They should also be familiar with which of the top review sites they should be monitoring. This includes the generalized ones, such as Yelp, and ones customized to industries, such as Healthgrades for doctors, etc.S
How long will you need to run and complete a successful campaign?
Say, you own a restaurant, and a customer recently had a negative experience while eating there. They took to the internet to warn other potential customers away from your place. What do you do? How do you tackle it? When asked this question, a reputable company will tell you that it is true that time is of the essence regarding reputation. However, any campaign they run to dispel the negativity caused by the customers’ reaction will take time to cause an effect. Any company that says otherwise or promises you lightning quick results is one that you should walk away from.
An ORM firm that knows what it is doing won’t try and push you into a quickie fix. They will honestly let you know how long a campaign will run for and then show you the results on its completion.
Where will you monitor my business?
The online arena is huge, so you should choose an ORM firm that will work to ensure that your brand is thoroughly covered. Active monitoring is something that all ORM companies will promise you.
But only capable ones will be able to tell you exactly where they are going to track your business’s name. They should know the things they will be covering, whether that includes social listening if they will be setting up Google alerts or not, etc.
Can you get rid of the harmful content already existing and pushing down my ranking in Google?
If they tell you sure, they can do that right off the bat, be very wary! Since each case is different, they come with their own specific complexities. An ORM can’t really predict they can remove the rankings without even knowing those details. In many cases, Google is directly contacted, and legal action is taken before the problem is solved.
In other cases, the ORM can create good new content and use it to push the negative content down and out of sight. Both solutions come at different costs and will affect your reputation in the future. Think about what would happen when those negative rankings make their way up the search results again! As evident, choosing Reputation Management Companies is a decision that requires much thought.
How much experience does the ORM company have?
Are they relatively new to the field? Then they may not be able to handle your affairs as well as an experienced firm would.
Companies that have been in the game for longer are more likely to accommodate changes in SEO, know all about internet blackmail, smear campaigns, and other problems quicker and better than newer inexperienced ones would.
What do they focus on?
Sure, an ORM firm that can track your social media engagement would be good for you. But do they also know to keep an eye on how a particular search engine ranks you? Are they equally capable of managing your business reputation across all fronts or just one?
In the end, we recommend that you don’t rush this decision because the importance of a business’ reputation is growing steadily higher each day! Choose wisely once and reap the benefits of your choice for a long time.