The Truth is Irrelevant – Reputation Management Online
On the internet Truth is irrelevant: Myth dominates reality.
The internet is everywhere. Over the last two decades it has gone from being a nerdy aspiration to an essential tool for business and pleasure. In 2013, a staggering 2.7 billion people accessed the internet! Critical to the success of the internet is not only its ease of access, but also just how easy it is to create content. Anyone is fairly much free to write anything about any topic they choose and it won’t cost them a cent. They can be as naughty and as nice as they wish, and once posted, for the most part – there isn’t really much that anyone can do to dislodge it.
Reputation is everything. It is so easy for an individual to post hurtful, slanderous, untrue and injurious information about you personally or your company based on nothing more than their deluded imagination. Do something stupid, provide poor customer service, or just annoy the wrong person and suddenly the internet can become a very hostile place.
Online reputation can be destroyed in as little as a few minutes. With the advent of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, anything that grabs a person’s interest for more than a couple of seconds can soon go “viral” and quickly become the dominant meme of the moment. Even if it doesn’t end up going viral, negative comments can quickly race to the top of search engine hits, so that anyone searching for information about you and your products is met with a barrage of condemnation.
This can not only devastate your business, but also your personal life. As many bullies learnt in the playground, sticks and stones only break bones, but names are really hurtful. Humans are social creatures and living life with the “Mark of Cain” is a humiliating and shameful existence.
On the internet Truth is irrelevant: Myth dominates reality.
For example, in 2009 a bushfire devastated many Victorian communities. 173 people died and over 400 were injured. Thousands of businesses were severely impacted. For some, this very real human tragedy meant nothing and a number of businesses reported receiving negative internet reviews that completely ignored the reality of the disaster and the fact that it can take many years to recover from this kind of trauma.
Of course, sometimes it is the truth that is the problem. Remember Mel Gibson’s racist rants? Or those of Michael Richards, the comedian who played Kramer on the TV hit Seinfeld? For both of these stars, severe damage to their reputations was entirely self inflicted and perhaps more damaging for being so.
Being able to protect your good name may feel like a daunting task, but online reputation and search results, can make or break your business. Online Reputation Management (ORM) should be an essential part of your online strategy. Good ORM gives you full control over your online search results. It will counteract negative press, social media attacks, rip off reports, forum posts and other negative search results pertaining to your business or name.
If you have positive top search results for your name or brand, this helps insulate you from attacks and bad press. So for this purpose, ORM should concentrate on building diverse properties to dominate the first page of major search engines with nothing but positive information that is individualized for each and every client.
A good ORM Campaign will help you defend your online name by pushing down the inaccurate and spiteful content in the search engine results. It should also establish your online presence by promoting positive content on hundreds of sources. This will help control and improve the perception of your business or searched name on the World Wide Web.
In reputation management you get what you pay for. For a campaign to be successful, it must be well funded and have the final outcome in sight right from the very beginning. The primary objective of a reputation management campaign is the removal and repositioning of negative content from the front pages of the search engines.
95% of people don’t bother going onto the second page of the search results, so even a moderately successful campaign, that only pushes bad results onto the second page of a Google search will still manage to significantly repair any damage.
Less competent ORM companies will achieve this by simply creating placeholder pages. Done well, this keeps the front pages of the search engines occupied with your brand but these assets are essentially worthless, with no real marketing value.
A superior ORM company will not only repair your online reputation but successfully market your business or personal brand in the process. They will will successfully deal with negative content across multiple blogs, forums, review sites and more. Throughout the campaign, your ORM company should work with you to write positive, accurate and inspiring articles aimed at fortifying your branding clout, announcing and launching new products or serving other marketing purposes.
With the exception of a well considered and strategically timed mea culpa, ORM created content is not written defensively, but is instead focused on advancing the long term interests of the brand, individual, or company. While ORM campaigns should be ongoing, even those of limited duration will create enough effective online content that makes it harder for negative content to drift back up the search engine pages at the conclusion of the campaign.
Which brings us back to Mel Gibson and Michael Richards. Both said some pretty toxic things, and when they did, any Google search of their names was swamped with references to what had been said.
But my guess is that in the intervening years only one of them has hired a competent ORM manager. Why? Simply because, as of the time of this writing, there is no mention of Mel Gibson’s various rants in the first four pages of Google listings and the first overtly negative hit (a Slate article describing him as a “narcissist”) is to be found buried on page five. On the other hand, the second hit for Michael Richards, right there on page one is the very unappealing headline, “Michael Richards Spews Racial Hate – Kramer Racist Rant”.
Of course, I have no way of knowing if Mel Gibson has in fact hired a competent ORM manager, because one of the most important things about ORM is that client privacy is paramount. A good ORM team are visible through their results, but invisible in the lives of the very people that they work so hard to protect.
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