As the Internet becomes more and more packed with consumer-generated media and content, it is increasingly important for companies to keep a close watch on their online reputations. Online reputation management (ORM) has begun to draw a great deal of attention because there are thousands of websites that have very low requirements—or no requirements at all—for people to enter them and post whatever message they want to, without having to verify what they say or even identify themselves.
Managing your online reputation isn’t limited to only social media sites and user-generated content sites such as YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter. Content that could harm your online reputation may span professional sites, traditional journalism sites, or local news and media sites, as well as personal blogs, reviews, ratings, and any number of specialized websites targeted to specific audiences or subject matters.
Many online storefronts have harnessed the power of the Internet to allow users to generate ratings for buyers and sellers, provide feedback about their experiences, and offer tips for other users who may be deciding whether to do business with a company. The popularity of consumer-generated media (CGM) feedback has led to the emergence of websites that are specifically designed for rating services and products.
There are numerous ways by which companies can take advantage of CGM sites to keep their reputations intact:
- Paying attention to what consumers say about their products or services, and making any necessary changes to ensure that they are portrayed in a positive light
- Evaluating what consumers have to say about their competitors’ products or services
- Engaging in more effective PR endeavors by understanding which types of consumers have the most influence
- Gaining insights from the public about what they like and dislike about their products or services, and using that information to improve customer satisfaction
- Using CGM sites to provide reactions or defense to negative comments
- Identifying gaps in the market where products and services could be developed profitably for niche markets
Protecting your online reputation can mean the difference between success and failure. Rather than sitting idly by and hoping that comments on CGM sites portray your business in a positive light, you can take proactive steps. Use those sites as a portal into the thoughts and perceptions of consumers, and instead of user feedback being your enemy, it can be your closest ally for success.