When times are tough and companies are uncertain where to invest their marketing dollars, one sure bet is to invest in the reputation of the company and key people. When budgets get lean, relationships and not salesmanship win the day. It pays to engage in the marriage of SEO and online public relations tactics called “online reputation management” to facilitate word of mouth, improve media coverage and shorten sales cycles.
Search is the most effective way to quickly research companies, products and people of interest. When those queries are performed, there are few worse scenarios than to see “yourbrandsucks.com” web sites in the search results.
Companies that successfully manage their online reputations are actively monitoring search results and social media for mentions of their company names, brands and key people. This means looking for sentiment that is both positive and negative.
Ideally, dissenters can be qualified and engaged long before a groundswell of support is achieved for any real or perceived issues. Stories of “Dell Hell” and “Motrin Moms” might be unknown to some marketers, but they undoubtedly strike fear into the hearts of those that saw hundreds and even thousands of bloggers, Twitterers and online content creators produce and pass along negative messages about brands that companies spent millions to develop – all within a matter of hours or days.
The answer starts with a monitoring program that not only collects raw data, but analyses it, categorizes, identifies sentiment and influence to sources. By catching negative commentary or reviews posted to the web, there’s an opportunity for companies to respond and appropriately deal with the situation quickly, before it breathes a life of its own.
Managing online reputations also involves discovering positive commentary and recognizing brand evangelists. Companies would do well to have a proactive reputation management and monitoring program in place, long before yourbrandsucks.com starts to rank top ten on Google for important brand names.
Monitoring is the start, followed by optimizing digital assets on and off the company web sites. Leveraging public relations expertise for messaging and storytelling in combination with SEO for keywords and link building are the key components for an effective search engine reputation management effort, in a recession or in good times.