The Growing Reputation Management Crisis

Online Reputation Management or ORM is not a new concept or service. In the past few years the amount of reputation service companies has drastically increased. Previously unworked niches or industries are now becoming more and more aware of the need but also the challenges reputation management companies create for some clients. First let’s start at the beginning SEO; Search Engine Optimization. When the Internet emerged it was clear that this was not a fad but the way of the future. But most business owners and marketing professionals did not know how to position themselves online. From building a website to sending email it was a learning process for everyone. A new area to compete for customers emerged and everyone wanted to be on top of the results. SEO companies sprouted up as being the solution to help companies rank online and be seen before their competitors. There always exists the ability to advertise through Google, but organic search results (non-paid ads) are of course highly desired.

Well SEO has evolved. Google has evolved. The days of building links and profiles by the thousands and pointing them to a site and writing gibberish content has come and gone. Today Google wants the user to have a positive experience and to do that the recipe calls for original content, real links and profiles providing a real experience for the user; essentially no spam or bogus content. Through this Reputation Management has also evolved. In the past only a small handful of companies provided ORM. Through content creation and management, and profile creation companies were able to improve the way a client looked online by promoting their message. Today paid ads for the keyword reputation management are around $35 a click and the industry is full of competition.

Competition is not a bad thing. But there are several things occurring that are causing a negative impact on the entire industry of reputation management. Here are two of the main points that are negatively affecting the industry;

1. Profile creation and control. If you read the terms and conditions for most ORM companies you can see that fine print will state that any profile they build they own and control it and its content. So even though a company may hire them for say 6-8 months beyond that they retain control of the profiles. A profile could be the companies main Facebook page if it was a new brand, their .com website or dozens of other important social and media profiles. This is a term called brand jacking; we often face a situation where we sign a new client. They have negative content online they want to suppress; this is possible of course but not overnight. We quickly discover that Facebook, Twitter and 4 other profiles are not available under their chosen keyword (their name). There is a Facebook page but it has not been posted on for over 6 months and the URL is not optimized…but it is on page 1 of Google’s results.

As the new ORM company we are facing an uphill battle. We now have to competed with Facebook to outrank a new page, an uphill task. We are essentially “locked out” of the ammunition closet. More importantly how does the brand look now? We all know Facebook and its power, so when a perspective client or buyer goes on Facebook and sees the page has not been posted on for 6 months and is out of date….this is a red flag and hurts the image and credibility. What can you do to avoid this? Make sure your company owns all profiles created. Signing and agreement regarding website hosting and server access is one thing, but actually not being the manager or admin of a page is very short sighted.

2. In-house issues with social profiles and websites. When an employee leaves a job it is not always under the best of circumstances. With more companies trying to take on the almost impossible task of managing the reputation in-house, problems have occurred due to profile control. “We see this happen all the time” states Wally Halicki president Reputation Maxx. “Employees are the manager of a Facebook page, they quit and then change their email, two years go by and nobody does anything about it. We are hired and…fix it…but it is not that simple, the name is already occupied and the employee is unreachable”. What happens now? A company owner and or president should be the ONLY person who is labeled page manager or owner. All others should have ability to create content and post but never to control page roles etc.

Reputation management companies have hurt the industry by holding companies brands hostage. Basically extorting money from companies for the safe return of their brand online. DO NOT let this happen, hiring a reputable company to help monitor your brands online sentiment, deal with and manage reviews, and help promote your companies vision and news, is not something companies should ever go without. It really is a must in todays world. Think about it, an employee to handle everything in-house would cost on the low end $12 per hour. Then they would need to pay press release costs, website maintenance cost, hosting, and deal with all the issues. The cost in-house would be far greater than the cost to outsource to professionals. Choose a company who is BBB accredited, look for keywords such as “company name REVIEWS” if they have bad reviews and are not taking care of their own image, how can they help you?

Stay tuned for more information on walking the heavily crowded path of ORM.