Google yourself. What do you see? Are you represented fairly?
Online reputation management (ORM) means taking control of the online conversation. Its techniques and strategies ensure that people find the right materials when they look for you on the Internet.
The purpose of online reputation management is to create balance, counteract misleading trends, and allow you to put your best foot forward.
Your online reputation is forever
If someone writes something negative about you online, it can put you at a serious disadvantage over the long term—especially if you’re not aware of it. You might never know why you didn’t get that apartment you wanted, or why a job offer never materialized after that phenomenal interview.
It’s important to keep tabs on what people are saying about you online and then take steps to correct any inaccuracies. (Here are some tips to help you get started.)
For the same reasons, you also need to monitor things that you post yourself. Thanks to social media, even posts from decades earlier can come back to harm you. Consider the following examples, all vastly different:
- James Gunn: Lost his position as the director of the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies after some offensive jokes that he tweeted years ago came to light.
- Harvard admissions: In 2017, ten college students lost their acceptance to Harvard because of their offensive social media posts.
- NASA internship: Twitter user @NaomiH_official had her internship opportunity with NASA revoked because a high-ranking NASA official saw her using profanity on a #NASA-tagged tweet.
One company that understands this better than most is United Airlines, which is still trying to find its footing after being deemed “evil” on social media. In 2017, video of United Airlines security personnel violently dragging a passenger off of an overbooked flight went viral, generating over 1 million mentions a day on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in the immediate aftermath. This social media storm ignited national outrage and caused United’s stock to quickly lose more than $1 billion in market value. While the stock has since recovered, the company’s reputation remains tarnished and continues to serve as fodder for late-night comedians.
Unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen. Online reputation mismatches are not technology problems, they’re human problems.
Google’s algorithms can only give us what we ask for. So if we ask for juicy gossip, conspiracy stories, and negative reviews, that’s what gets associated with our search terms.
Search algorithms prioritize popularity
No algorithm can tell whether information accurately reflects you or not, so popularity becomes the main measuring stick of what makes a good search result.
That’s why embarrassing party photos, frivolous lawsuits dismissed years ago, and other kinds of irrelevant but intriguing “clickbait” often dominate online reputations.
Online reputation management prioritizes balance
Online reputation management counteracts that human bias for gossip, ensuring that the materials that actually matter aren’t overwhelmed by the rumors.
Do you trust your reputation to be accurately represented by an algorithm that doesn’t know the difference between what’s tantalizing and what’s truthful? If not, then you need to develop an online reputation management strategy to protect your interests.
This need will always exist. In fact, it’s probably going to get more and more important to manage our online reputations as search engines and other online algorithms become a bigger part of everything we do.
Not sure how to get started in managing your online reputation? Check out our collection of guides and best practices.
The definitive guide to online reputation management
Our in-depth guide to how online reputation management works, the major tactics involved, and how to build a strategy that works for you. The ultimate resource for anyone looking to roll up their sleeves and put together their own plan.
How social media can ruin your online reputation
Using real-world examples, we show how social media missteps have harmed people's reputations. We then provide advice on how to avoid a similar fate, including simple steps you can take to protect yourself on social media.
How to remove negative reviews from the Internet
Businesses often ask if there's a way to delete misleading, negative reviews. In this guide, we go over the situations where removal might be possible, and we provide advice on how to solve the problem in cases when it's not.
How to protect your online reputation
Not sure where to start with online reputation management? In this guide, we provide a handful of easy-to-implement tips that will put your online reputation on a much surer footing. We also explain strategies that don't work and that are best avoided.
Online review management: the complete guide
If you run a business and aren't sure how best to use customer reviews to build your online reputation, this guide is for you. We go over the do's and don'ts of online review management, how to get more positive reviews, and how to avoid getting negative ones.