When Online Reputation Management can and cannot help business

Credit: Anna Shvets

Since the easing of lockdown, we’ve received many inquiries from businesses about helping them to improve their online reputations and how to use online reputation management (ORM) to their advantage. 

All types of buyers – whether business to business or retail, rely on online research from Google search and social media to inform their decision making process. This means that businesses need to monitor any and all information their prospective customers find about them online to ensure it speaks positively about the brand and the company as a whole. 

If there does happen to be negative content or sentiment revolving around a particular business or brand, it’s not obvious how, when and where online reputation management can support the business.

For instance, if an individual has been accused of any kind of wrongdoing publicly then online reputation management can certainly be leveraged to restore their positive image, so long as they have been cleared of all charges against them. However, it may not be leveraged the same way if they have been found guilty or convicted of wrongdoing in a court of law. The situation is very different for businesses.

This article clearly lays out some guidelines in order to understand where an online reputation management can help businesses and where it cannot.

When online reputation management can help businesses

The reasons for businesses and brands to use online reputation management (ORM) could range from anything from brand awareness and protection to negative feedback. 

Some businesses simply use ORM for building better brand awareness. Being new in the marketplace means there may not even be any negative reviews to begin with, so with a limited digital footprint, many startups and small companies hire online reputation management companies to build their SEO ranking, social media popularity and generally garner more interest around the brand. 

However, the most common reason that businesses hire an online reputation management consultant is when they are dealing with a genuine crisis. For instance, a sensationalist – yet unfounded – news story on the first page of Google where it would make sense to work with a specialist that seeks to bury negative news online.

At Balanced Media we have had to deal with not merely the occasional ‘bad mouthing’ from competitors, but also with false rumours and allegations, to even tackling fully fledged and well resourced smear campaigns commissioned by highly motivated bad actors. If these claims are found false in court, then businesses can and should work with an ORM consultant to seek to restore a businesses’ brand reputation and have positive sentiments revolve around it. 

This is something an online reputation management specialist is particularly good at, and will do everything possible to ensure that the negative sentiments are either removed or buried way down in search results, while only the most positive results pop up on the first to second and third page of Google, for example. 

When online reputation management can’t help businesses

It can be very tempting for a business to immediately consider approaching an online reputation management company when hit with any kind of negative news or reviews online. And, in many cases, it makes a lot of sense as it can take a lifetime to build a reputation…you know the rest. When businesses understand that, they change their approach and tend to resort to an online reputation management consultant when hit with any kind of scandal or negativity online. 

One example that comes to mind where an ORM consultant cannot be used is if wrongdoing has been proven in the court of law. If there’s incriminating evidence against a company or someone in that company was guilty of the accusation, then unfortunately, online reputation management cannot help much. 

Whether a company has been cleared or found guilty of certain allegations, Google’s ‘right to be forgotten’ is not applicable to businesses. Furthermore, any negative material posted on social media cannot realistically be removed. One could approach, say, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter directly to have the person/ company/ group account closed who posted the incendiary content about the business, but that’s about it. But it is hard to prove who owns and account and committed bad actors could just open another account. Online reputation management will most likely won’t be of much help.

Some companies have, unfortunately, attempted black hat SEO techniques and other unorthodox means in order to boost their brands’ reputation – and paid the price. If you find yourself in a similar position, then online reputation management will likely not help to fight your case or defend your position. But there is an exception to this: you may use the expertise of an online reputation management company to use white hat SEO techniques, legitimate Google up-ranking techniques (such as pushing down negative reviews) and positive reviews to restore faith in your brand – but this would be lengthy, costly and without any guarantee of success. 

The bottom line: To use or not to use an online reputation management specialist? 

Many businesses today are working with an ORM company to keep their brands’ reputations in check. 

The above pointers should help you decide whether you should resort to an online reputation management consultant when things start to go sideways – however, it’s also important to consider if the investment is truly worthwhile. 

In any case, online reputation management can not only help restore your reputation but also keep it in check all year round. Contact us for a free initial consultation to see how ORM can help. 


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