Everyone comes to the Reputation Monitoring party at one stage or another. Maybe you’re a rookie, bumbling around and covering up your mistakes because you don’t know any better. Maybe you’re an empath, getting dirty in the trenches while you ooze sympathy for everyone’s feelings. Perhaps you’re a veteran, wise enough to know thy enemy before he strikes. But maybe, just maybe, you’re a Jedi, aware of all things at all times. Dynamically in touch with The Force.
ROOKIE > Level 1: Positive Organic Search Rankings
“Search Engine Reputation Management” is an important tactical component of a larger strategy. WARNING: If you are in need of reputation management and the ONLY component you pursue is SERM, you are effectively sweeping your problems under the rug, and will not be considered by me or others to be a legitimate prospect.
If all you care about is displacing negative search results with positive ones, chances are you don’t really care about doing the right thing. There ARE exceptions. When libel becomes widespread, there may be a cause to focus on SERPs only. However, for the sake of the majority, let’s just be clear that I’ve steered clear of every person/organization that’s approached me with SERM-only concerns. I have no interest in helping companies hide their dirty laundry.
However, SERM is a healthy and appropriate tactic as long as it’s merely one component of a larger strategy. If your business is doing everything within its power to resolve problems and satisfy customers, there’s nothing wrong with being thorough and addressing search results. I have and will continue to help clients promote positive pages in search so long as they display an eagerness to be ethical and responsible for customer experience.
EMPATH > Level 2: Social Interaction
Congratulations! You’re not just hiding your mess! You’ve graduated to showing that you care. I applaud companies who make it to Stage 2, which entails responding to negative, neutral, and positive comments made about their brand, executives, products, and services. It’s where the customer gets to experience a real human being behind the big bad brand name. It can also be a sensitive area where brands epically fail or win over loyal customers.
Your brand needs to solidify your voice and approach before responding the first time. In some cases, you can’t help but learn on the fly. But the unpredictable is no excuse for a lack of preparation and unity. If you have a handful of personalities engaging the customer online under the name of your business, you want the guidelines written well in advance, and you’ll want to assign someone to do quality control.
In some instances, reputation managers such as myself are brought in to merely perform weekly, monthly, or quarterly quality checks to make sure that employees handling ORM are functioning optimally. I highly recommend this regular review process as a third party can typically find several blind spots and opportunities for growth.
VETERAN > Level 3: Competitor Analysis
Warning: You’re in danger of becoming a serious customer relationship ninja! You may have examined your competition on Google for years, but now it’s time to strap on your big boy pants and really dive in. Utilizing a solid reputation monitoring tool, you now track what customers are saying about your competitors. But you don’t stop there! You’re also tracking what they say, if anything, in response.
And if you’re approaching Jedi status, you’re swooping in and talking to their customers before they do. You’re answering questions, being helpful, and showing how you’re a superior, albeit humble, sportsman.
JEDI > Level 4 Industry Buzz
You are now the most well informed company in your industry. You know what is being said about your competitors, and you’re aware of complaints, needs, desires, and general comments about your entire industry. You are well informed and armed to the teeth with data to fuel your product enhancements and project creations. You know what people want. And you’re scheming how to give it to them.
You are a winner. And you are winning because FIRST you took the time to listen.