The Rise And Rise Of Online Reputation Management
In today’s digital age, people are empowered with unfiltered information which they can access from a device that fits comfortably in the palm of their hand through a well connected global communication system. Never before the reputation of an individual or a company was so vital in a digital world which can be easily influenced by the power (driven by motives) at ones’ fingertips.

Although word of mouth referrals and social reputation will always be important, online investigation and verification are emerging as a very convenient tool for people these days. Most people prefer to find out information digitally, from the comfort of their homes and offices rather than doing a field investigation.

The internet now has become a major source of information used by people for making important decisions. These decisions include:

  • Professional decisions such as hiring
  • Financial decisions such as whether to fund a certain startup or not
  • Personal decisions about significant others
  • Business decisions about renting out property to people, choosing clients, service providers, and vendors etc.
When asked about the internet as a reputation maker or breaker, Akanksha Sharma, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Indspire Me, shares that “Online reputation management is not just about correcting negative or misinformation that is spreading about you online. It is also about telling people the authentic and value-adding truth about yourself, before anyone else. You need to create a personal brand that is so powerful and transparent that it becomes your calling card.”

Online reputation management (ORM) is important for both individuals and companies. If you are an individual, a bad online reputation can have a significant negative impact on your professional and personal life. If you are a business, a murky reputation can have disastrous impacts on your revenues, finances and public goodwill. That’s why it’s very important for both individuals and businesses to know how to manage their online reputation. In today’s highly competitive time, individuals and businesses need to know how to leverage their online reputation as an advantage in their toolkit.

According to Sameer Somal of Blue Ocean Global Technology, ORM can be classified into two major categories. “The first category is being proactive, which includes positioning and monitoring a positive brand Proactive ORM requires an understanding of target markets, creating digital assets, and engaging new & prospective clients across both traditional & digital channels.” He further adds,
“The second category is a reactive response to mitigate information that tarnishes the image of an individual or a business entity. Reactive ORM mitigates the impact of negative links, harmful reviews, or erroneous content.”

Points of Note for Individuals

People need to be aware of the current snapshot of their online reputation. They can search for information about themselves on search engines and on various social media websites.It would also be wise to set up a Google Alert to keep track of any mentions. For social media monitoring, tools like ‘Social Mention’ can be used.

Individuals should be prudent while updating social media, especially the ones where professional contacts can add them, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. They should be mindful of what they post on these platforms. Inflammatory updates related to religion and politics are a big no-no. Prevention is better than cure. Facebook is a public platform these days, and despite all privacy settings, one must anticipate that some professional contacts will add you on these platforms.

One great asset that individuals can create is a personal website, which will be the most comprehensive source of information about them on the web. The website should include links to other reliable sources of information about them. This will increase the credibility of their website in terms of search engine results and make it rank higher.

Another great opportunity for people to create a stellar online reputation is through writing about their area of expertise. People should write in a niche area that they know best, and try to get their writing published with a reputable platform. Apart from the mainstream digital media platforms, publishing on LinkedIn is also valuable for showcasing competence to one’s professional contacts.

Sharma shares that one of the major incentives for people to write articles for Indspire Me, is being supported by the platform, which also helps them become experts in their areas of interest.

“Everyone has something that they are passionate about. We choose knowledgeable people who write well &give them a platform to shine. We promote their writing on all our social media platforms.”

Points of note for Businesses

For businesses, there are many different elements that need to be managed well in order to create a good online reputation. Some of these elements include the businesses’ name, product quality and perception, senior-level employees, media reportage and of course, social media.

A business should make sure to the share positive testimonials and experiences of its clients. Having a well-trained and responsive customer care team in place, especially the one that handles online feedback is very important.

A business should have social media accounts on all the major platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, Instagram, Google + etc. Having a blog on the website, which is updated regularly, is also an asset. Creating all these prime social media accounts under the business’ name will ensure that the first page of Google’s search results reflects an authentic and positive image.

Thus, from the examples given up, it is clear that online reputation management is not just about fire-fighting and troubleshooting. It is also about being pro-active and taking pre-emptive action.Creating a good online reputation means telling an authentic and value-adding story about yourself to the rest of the world. The stories you tell can open a flood-gate of opportunities for you, whether these be employment opportunities, consulting opportunities, free-lancing opportunities or even business opportunities.

So start taking charge of your online reputation today and create the impact that you want.