How to Control Your First Impression Online: Online Reputation Management

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Online reputation management (ORM) is how you can help create the best impression possible online using PR and other communications strategies to promote and build your brand. First let’s dive into what Online reputation management is.

What is Online Reputation Management

Online reputation management is in essence the ability to control the perception of one’s image or brand in the digital world. It only takes one post linked to you or a brand for the image of either party to be damaged, or in the other case, promoted positively. By being able to maintain the appearance and reputation of yourself or brand, you are able to dictate the outcome of your business and image.

ORM used to be focused o damage control and crisis or emergency situations. It’s now a part of the overall communications strategy of businesses to build a protective wall around personal and corporate brands with the general concept of trust-building and influencing the public image.

Types of Online Reputation Management

Reputation management can be broken down into two different categories: reputation building and reputation repair. Reputation repair usually involves the removal or suppression of negative search results surrounding a brand or name, whereas reputation building involves creating a positive and neutral atmosphere surrounding the brand that makes it difficult for negative content to damage a brand.

Modern Day Online Reputation Management

Modernization of ORM has changed from playing defense to now playing offense. It’s become a proactive response to the potential threats towards companies rather than full-blown damage repair. Seeing a potential problem, creating an action plan that immediately addresses concerns or directs the discourse around any given action taken, and a protocol to shut down the situation before it blows out of control.

This has been crucial to integrate into pre-existing communications plans for many companies that are exposed to cancel culture. Now, more than ever, it’s been apparent that individuals across the globe are willing to damage and defame a brand or individual over their beliefs, actions, or associations to what is viewed as dissimilar to their own viewpoint. 

There is a weird fascination among our culture in general to see self-destruction and a strong comeback story, specifically with celebrity icons. Even when individuals or companies are not in the direct spotlight, it’s important to know how to handle situations as they present themselves in order to continue building a positive image to those who are viewing your life. 

Your Online Reputation

What kind of reputation you have matters whether you think it does or not. Type your name into the search bar of your browser and see what comes up! You might be surprised if you haven’t actively checked in the past. With the ability to access the internet easily from any area of the world, you never know who’s saying what about you unless you check. 

With the ability to share any post or information at the click of a button, it’s highly important to do a self-assessment on occasion to make sure your reputation isn’t in harm’s way.

Graph - Users searching their own name on search engines

Your First Impression

When you take into account the vast information, photographs, videos, audio clips, motion graphics, etc. that can be linked to your name or brand, it’s very important to consider what it is that people are seeing for the very first time about you. Social media has created ease into letting people see what others are doing in live time with no edits to what they say, how they act, what’s happening in the background, or what others are doing with them.

Many platforms have a level of protection in place to take down, restrict, or eliminate damaging or harmful content. But that doesn’t stop everyone from seeing damage in real time. Usually restrictions aren’t caught until the feed is reviewed afterwards or flagged by community members enough to get the attention from someone with authority.

So what can you do to proactively engage in ORM if a situation as the above described occurs?

Steps to take for Online Reputation Management

Keep the following steps to proactively manage your online reputation in mind so you aren’t caught in the crossfire of a damaging situation with no way to turn around from it.

Acknowledgment – Acknowledge who’s providing negative feedback in a timely manner in the same place as the negative commentary is being shared.

Appreciation – Thank the individual for providing their opinion and feedback as well as sharing their experience. Let them know that this feedback will be taken into consideration of improving your product, service, business process, etc. 

Apology – Take responsibility and express regret whether you feel sorry or not to ensure the individual who’s providing the feedback feels seen, heard, and hopefully at ease providing you the opportunity to diffuse the upset they’re experiencing. 

Action – Provide the actions you’ll take to the individual and for others to see that you are invested in improving the situation at hand. Showing that effort is being made is key.

By applying the four A’s to your situation and current communication action plan, you are going to be able to both create a positive and engaging environment for your community to interact with you in, and take control of how your image is perceived.

Here are a few more steps to consider when really defining the rhetoric around your image.

Build your reputation – There is no greater action to take than to build a reputation with those following you and those seeking out what it is you offer them as a benefit in life. Connect and engage with others, host podcasts on Zoom and invite collaborators, generate positive reviews, start a blog, get really sure of your SEO and web content promoting you or your business. It all leads to the outcome of being so strong, that there’s no room for negativity to seep in.

Turn Negatives into Positives – Follow the Four A’s above to gain back the confidence of those who are negatively responding to your image. Be proactive in creating a positive setting for them to engage in.

Build Relationships – Seek out individuals or organizations that share the similar values and interests you have. This will help not only your integrity but also your alliances with those crafting the message about you when you aren’t looking.

Be the Best – Get enthusiastic about how you are viewed and be prepared to swiftly take action anywhere and everywhere you find the need to showcase your image. 

Have a Long-Term Online Reputation Management Strategy – Getting a plan ready that can flow with your direction at any level of growth is important in being able to support your success and not take a turn for the worse. If you don’t feel confident in creating your own master plan without a professional, seek an organization that is knowledgeable in this field to assist you.

Who do you Need to Help you Manage your Online Presence?

When tackling ORM on your own or even in a business setting, there are plenty of great resources available to delve into for the right tips and advice on creating a positive image. We’ve put together The Ultimate Guide for 2022 that will help you reform the way you have done online reputation management in the past or help you learn exactly how to start adding it into your lifestyle for a better presence.

If you are a business owner, or individual with a large presence already, reach out to our team to see how we can help you generate a positive first impression with anyone who sees  you.

Your outward image matters. It always has and always will. Don’t doubt the power you have over how you are viewed by friends, family, colleagues, and the world. Take the steps we shared with you in this article or the ones found in our guide to take your image to the next level.

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