The ROI of Online Reputation Management
As the world is becoming more and more digital everyday, companies of all sizes wonder whether they should invest in traditional web design and marketing services or in more comprehensive brand building and protection solutions.As many people rely on the internet to make purchasing and business decisions, it is important to understand that online brand reputation is not a vague concept with no real world application, but rather an essential factor affecting sales and growth over time.
The problem is: what is the return on investment for a company that decides to have its reputation managed and protected? Although online reputation management mainly deals with the reaction to negative events, there are two sides of the story:
- what your brand is losing
- what your brand could gain
On the one hand, negative reviews or other types of (legal or illegal) user-generated content affect sales, and your reputation management will reduce loss over time. On the other hand, negative episodes can represent the occasion to react and turn the situation in your favour.
Speed of reaction
Nobody will write you an email saying:
“Dear Mr Smith, I just posted a negative review of your services on www.review.com – Best regards, Mike”
Chances are you will not discover negative content until somebody looks for it, or until the damage to your reputation gets so big it’s impossible to ignore it. This is a huge problem in the non digital world, but fortunately monitoring your reputation online, given the right tools and attitude, is something achievable. From simple Google Alerts to more complex social media analytics tools, brand reputation monitoring can guarantee a simple advantage: if something bad happens, you react quickly.
Did you remember what happened to Domino’s Pizzas? A few years ago two employees posted YouTube videos showing terrible things done to the food before it was delivered, with millions of views and a big damage to the company reputation (experts say 50 millions!). The company reacted very slowly, about 3 days later, which on the Internet equals a lifetime!
The search engine game
Your reputation is not only something that naturally spreads via word of mouth and content sharing, although these are huge factors. Another aspect to take into account is what I call the search engine game, meaning the perception of your brand, product or service via search engines.
Your first impression is your impression. If negative content shows up on Google first page, how much potential are you wasting? People nowadays do not trust advertising messages, but they rely on their personal searches to make decisions.
Online reputation management must include advanced search engine strategies to bury negative content and showcase your “best self” in an ethical way. It’s easy to calculate ROI on search engine optimisation because thanks to tools like Google Analytics you can monitor visits and sales in an in-depth way.
With online investigation services you can also find quickly the author of any anonymous digital attack and sue him for millions. You may end up getting a refund that exceeds your loss.
Reacting quickly can even give you an advantage. Public refutation of negative content like defamation can get quoted in mainstream media and get your brand even more exposure and recognition.
About Author: Dan Virgillito is a content strategist at Massive PR International, an online reputation management firm specialising in review removals, online investigations and search engine strategies.