Importance of reputation
The 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, which tracks global trust sentiment, explains why trust is key in businesses.
A massive 80% of people polled have purchased a product or service from a company because they trusted them, while 68% have recommended a business they trust to a friend or colleague.
In other words, if you develop a reputation as a company consumers trust, it can bring business your way and benefit your business’s bottom line. A 2015 report from Reputation Dividend, which measures corporate reputation found that at best, reputation contributes £1 in every £2 to a company’s value.
But at worst, reputation can cost you £1 of every £7 of your business’ value, so you need to safeguard your company’s reputation, especially online.
If unwanted content concerning your company is posted online it could rank on the first page of an online search for your business’ name, coming to the attention of a large share of your business’ customer base and destroying consumer trust in your brand.
If your business experiences a negative reputational event you may want to consider utilising the services of an online reputation management company.
These companies develop and implement strategies which are designed to give you control of the first page of an online search for your company’s name.
Typically, this involves creating and maintaining online assets such as social media accounts and delivering press that will rank for your business’ name.
With reputation being so important to your company’s bottom line, it’s vital that you choose the right online reputation management company for your business.
Selecting the wrong reputation company could further damage your business’ image online or only deliver short-term results, potentially costing you more money in the long-term on developing a positive reputation online.
Here are five tips you can use to select the right online reputation management company.
1. Look at their experience
Firstly, look at your chosen online reputation management company’s track record. Do they have the experience required to help your company build its reputation online effectively?
When assessing the company’s experience look at how long they’ve been operating and the experience of its senior team.
It’s especially important to assess their digital marketing skills. Do they know about how Google ranks content? This is a key aspect of online reputation management.
Also, online reputation management requires extensive legal knowledge, so see which law firms they partner with. An honest company will tell you when a matter needs to be handled legally; if they don’t and they insist they can take it on themselves they could cause further harm to your venture’s reputation online.
I’d advise you to ask for an overview of the online reputation management company’s experience, along with a few case studies of their work, to determine whether you should utilise their services. You might have to sign an NDA to receive case studies as online reputation management is highly confidential, however it’s definitely worth checking whether the online reputation management company can deliver results.
2. Ensure they’re human
Secondly, ensure you’re working with a real team when you hire a reputation management company. Too many reputation firms claim to be large operations with plenty of team members but when you try and find their phone number or their address, you can’t because they’re just one-man bands.
Refrain from conducting all business with the reputation company in question via email. If possible, meet the team you’d potentially be working with to ensure they are who they say they are and that the partnership is a good fit on both sides.
You may have to conduct business with the online reputation management company via phone, especially if they’re based in another country. If so, speak to key team members who’d be working on your account, so you can assess whether they’re right for the job.
3. Ask how they work
Furthermore, ask the reputation company how they work before bringing your business their way. A reputable firm will have no issue being totally transparent about how they work, costs and how long the project will take to come to fruition.
Unfortunately, some online reputation management companies conform to unethical standards and won’t disclose how they’ll get unwanted information concerning your business removed online. Asking how they work before signing on the dotted line is a must.
I’d suggest that when deciding whether to work with a reputation company, ask them to provide you with three things; a work plan for your project, some example content and a similar case study to your project so you can see realistically how long it’ll take them to cultivate a positive reputation online for your business.
After signing on the dotted line, conduct regular calls and meetings with the reputation company so you can track how they’re helping your company with its online reputation.
4. Examine their authority
Next, determine how much authority the online reputation management company has before you decide to work with them. A specialist reputation company will position themselves as a thought-leader on the subject, so by choosing one of these companies you can ensure your working with a specialist in the field, rather than a business who just provides online reputation management as an add-on service.
When assessing the reputation company’s expertise, look at any press where they’ve been featured as a reputation-thought specialist. Also, see whether they publish thought leadership material on their company blog and how they engage with users on their social media accounts to assess whether they really are online reputation specialists.
Read their output carefully to determine whether you’d get a quality service if you sign with the online reputation management company in question.
5. Resist false promises
Finally, determine whether the online reputation management company you’re thinking of working with can deliver on their promises.
Some businesses will take advantage of your need to get unwanted online content concerning your company removed from Google. These companies may claim to guarantee removal or bring your business fast results, but in truth they can’t necessarily guarantee any of this.
Therefore, it’s essential that you don’t sign with an online reputation management company which promises or guarantees your business anything. There are no guarantees with online reputation and a trustworthy reputation company will be upfront about that.
They’ll also be completely honest about how long the project may take and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is; repairing your business’ online reputation is no quick fix.
Choose the right company
Your company’s reputation is vital to its long-term success. Therefore, if you’re looking to hire an online reputation management company to help you build a positive image online, ensure that you select a reputable firm with a track record for success. This way, you can be sure you’re working with an online reputation management firm that’ll help your venture build a strong brand image online.
If you want to learn more about online reputation management and how it can help your business cultivate a positive brand image online, please get in touch. You can contact me in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on +44 (0)203 542 8689.