No matter the size of the organization, Online Reputation Management (ORM) is increasingly necessary for executives who represent companies. Effective ORM strategies help small businesses mitigate reputational risk which Deloitte currently rates as the number one strategic risk. For both companies and individuals, maintaining a positive image online is more important than ever before.
Everyone is A Brand
In the New York Times best seller Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary Vaynerchuk writes an entire chapter entitled “All companies are media companies.” He’s right; companies have virtually unlimited exposure and can easily publish their own media. The way people consume media has shifted drastically in response to social media and the Internet. In the digital age, every company is a media company and every person is a brand. You are now a brand, especially if you are a founder of a small business. The benefits of employing ORM strategies for small business executives have two major benefits: displaying a positive online reputation will build trust and ensure that accurate information is available for potential customers while simultaneously mitigating the damage of any negative information that might be displayed in search results. Here are four steps everyone can use to ensure an optimal image online.
Step One: Audit
Executives should monitor their personal name with the same fervor used to monitor their company’s name; this is especially true in small businesses where one person may occupy several client-facing roles. The first step in performing a reputation audit is to take inventory of all current search results and sort out the positive, negative, and neutral content. Relevant websites when querying for your name will fall into one of three categories: sites you own, sites you control, and sites that mention you. You can utilize each of these sites to manage your online reputation, but it’s important to know what information is already available when developing ORM strategies for small business executives.
Step Two: Build
There is most likely some low hanging fruit that can make it’s way into search results quickly. Ensure that you are available on all prevalent social media platforms, especially Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Google Plus. If you have relevant video content available, YouTube is a very authoritative site and studies have shown that video content is up to 600% more engaging than text. You should also consider the advantages of building a personal website or hiring an ORM company to build one for you. A personal website allows you to build thought leadership while simultaneously providing a centerpiece for all of your web assets.
Step Three: Optimize
The third step in utilizing ORM strategies for small business executives is to optimize web assets. Optimization simply means to follow a set of best practices that make it easy for search engines to understand relevant content on your web pages. There are numerous guides about how to optimize social media as well as freemium software that will walk you through every step. A robust, optimized personal brand offers a reputation safety net by ensuring that even if negative information appears online, it will probably not immediately rank highly, as it will be suppressed by more favorable content.
Step Four: Monitor
It is important to constantly evaluate your ORM strategies for small business executives by implementing a monitoring solution. Software is available from basic social listening that tracks a few social accounts to enterprise level Internet monitoring software that comprehensively tracks reviews, press mentions, and social media in unison.
Today, executives at both large and small companies are brand names and are therefore subject to reputation risk. Executives at any organization make decisions publicly, and there will be a correlation in search results between executives and their respective companies. It is important for companies today to ensure that they are using the most effective ORM strategies for small business executives.
What other ORM strategies have you used to build and protect your personal brand?