A fact of life is that nothing stays constant. Things change and you have to learn to adapt if you want to stay in the game.

For example, with the rise of the internet, practically everything changed.

Apart from having to deal with rankings and getting in touch with an SEO agency, businesses quickly learned that survival meant entering an online ecosystem, an ecosystem where the playing field between brand and consumer is closer to even than ever before.

That is to say, whereas companies didn’t really engage with their customers before the internet—they treated them as a passive audience whose only feedback came in sales or lack thereof—the internet amplified their voice and changed the communication from “top down” to “back and forth.”

In other words, the consumer became something to reckon with for reasons other than them being the ones with the money. With the internet, what they said meant something because other people like them started listening.

With the internet, came online reputation management.

What Is Online Reputation Management?

Online reputation management is a thing because of a simple fact that goes with running a business: no matter who you are, your industry or your size, people are talking about you.

Whether it’s through a Tweet, a Facebook post or a comment on your blog, you can bet people are talking.

As such, you need to do something about it; if people are talking about you online, i.e. saying things that are impacting your reputation, you should be able to manage and control it.

This is especially true when you realize that what people are saying about you has a BIG impact on your future. If it’s positive, wonderful; if it’s not, it can really impact your sales… negatively.

Enter online reputation management.

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Online reputation management is the action of influencing the narrative around your business, AKA its reputation. It’s about controlling what people are saying about you, your business and its products or services.

Although it sounds like something a PR department should take care of, online reputation management actually encompasses everyone in a business because, from the newest entry-level employee to the most senior C-level executive, everyone associated with a business has a say about what its reputation is.

No matter who they are or what position they hold, what an employee says and does has consequences because, again, they are associated with that business.

As such, having a proper online reputation management strategy that covers how to behave and how to react is paramount.

How to Do Online Reputation Management

Like we just covered, online reputation management covers how you and your employees should behave and react to whatever is said or done to your business, or if it should even react at all.

After all, sometimes the best reaction is no reaction at all.

With that in mind, let’s cover how to do online reputation management by starting our list of 5 online reputation management tips.

1. Closely Monitor Your Social Channels

social media reviews

The biggest reason behind the need for online reputation management is the advent of social media. When we started getting social online, we gained the ability to directly interact with brands on a one-on-one level.

As such, Facebook and Twitter will be your go-to for social media monitoring, as they’re the most popular social media platforms for venting or praising a business.

To this end, regularly check up on what your audience is saying about you and your business by going through their posts and comments on your own posts, and performing Google searches about your brand to see what else is being said online.

2. React Quickly and Appropriately

If you’re properly monitoring all your social channels, you should know exactly when something requiring a reaction comes up.

Likewise, just because something comes up does not mean that it requires a reaction. For example, if you can accomplish absolutely nothing by doing something, such as if someone makes a random comment about your brand, there’s no need to react.

When you do need to react, though, do it quickly and appropriately. Even if you can’t do anything at the moment, at least let them know that you’re trying and will soon be able to solve their problem.

If you don’t and choose to wait, even the best answer will not be able to save you from the damage caused by the delay.

3. Be Completely Transparent

When you do react and respond to your audience, make sure to be completely transparent, as transparency builds trust and trust is exactly what your business needs for a positive reputation.

What it doesn’t need is a scandal borne out of trying to hide or cover up negative press.

Keep in mind that being completely transparent doesn’t mean you should be completely transparent about everything. For instance, Neil Patel suggests that being “radically transparent” can be risky, as Dark Horse Café now knows:

Dark Horse Cafe Fail

As Neil writes, Dark Horse Café’s “defensive/aggressive behavior doesn’t work in the online world,” even noting that “[m]any blogs reported the fact as a negative public relations case.”

Instead of being so aggressive, Dark Horse could’ve thanked April for letting them know that more electrical outlets would be appreciated by their customers, ending that interaction in a positive note for both.

4. Address Both Criticism and Praise

Going off of what we just covered, you should address critiques and praise both.

For the former, when someone leaves a negative review, ALWAYS respond.

Did they not like your product or service? Explain why it actually is great and what you’re going to do in the future to make it even better. Even if you think they’re in the wrong, tell them you appreciate their feedback and kindly explain why you think you do, in fact, offer great products or services.

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For the former, you don’t always need to respond to praise, but definitely do so every now and then. People like knowing they’re being heard, and thanking them for giving you a shout out can go a long way in their relationship with your brand.

5. Learn from Your Mistakes

Finally, the best way to manage your reputation is by ensuring you’re doing everything by the books, which is accomplished by learning from your mistakes.

For example, whenever someone posts something negative about your business, don’t just respond to appease them and make the whole thing go away.

Instead, use their feedback to your advantage and actually improve your business with it.

At the end of the day, the whole point of being able to post on social media and comment about something in regards to a business is to create a dialogue in which both parties get something out of the interaction.

For your users, they gain the ability to vent their frustrations and let you know how you can improve future interactions. For you, you get a chance to learn what you’re doing wrong and how to change for the better.

Final Thoughts

Owning a business today means managing an online reputation. If you’re not, it’s likely you won’t be in business for too long.

It’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality of working in a digital age where practically everything is connected and out in the open.

Remember everything we covered today, and most importantly, learn from your critiques — if you can improve something, do it.