Online reputation management (ORM) has become a necessity for maintaining a brand’s clean and polished image. However, do all companies offering online reputation management services deliver what they promise?
On many occasions, brands have been fooled by ORM agencies. These agencies take complete control over your online pages and accounts while managing your online reputation. So, you must be aware of this dark side of online reputation management before signing a contract with them.
In this article, we have shared some useful insights regarding how to avoid ORM scams. Read on if you have any doubts regarding reputation management scams.
Understanding Online Reputation Management
When you run a business, you tend to have both satisfied and agitated customers. These customers usually express their opinions and suggestions on social media.
If the negative reviews are more evident, they will surely malign your online image. So, managing them is one of the basic necessities to conduct your online business smoothly.
ORM agencies are hired to suppress negative feedback and reviews through SEO and other ways. They monitor your brand image by tracking your brand mentions and products/services.
Upon finding an alarming content or post regarding your product or brand, they take quick action to resolve the issue. As your efforts to manage your online reputation have to be consistent, you must hire professional ORM agencies.
These agencies use social listening tools that automate the process of tracking customer conversations. While they filter out the negative sentiments and try to fix them, they also highlight the positive ones. Highlighting positive reviews presents your brand in a positive light before your existing and potential customers.
Legitimate ORM Services
So, the question that remains to be answered “Is online reputation management a scam?’ Of course not, especially when you work with an ethical ORM company. These are some legitimate ORM services that you can expect from a genuine ORM company:
1. Content Optimisation
Publishing relevant and engaging content on your website and social platforms is a must. The content must entertain and inspire your audience. Moreover, it must establish your expertise in the domain. Optimising keywords is also essential to increase your online visibility on search engines.
Professional ORM services optimise the content according to the channels and user preferences. By sharing stories, posts, and insights related to your brand values and ethics, they help you emerge as a trusted brand before your audience.
2. Review Management
Review management is one of the key services offered by ORM firms. To manage reviews, these firms track your brand mentions and product/service names consistently. If they find negative reviews, they use strategies to suppress them.
For instance, they might publish the positive experiences of your customers on top of the negative reviews. Sign up with an ORM company that uses ethical review management strategies.
You must not collaborate with companies that may threaten the customers to remove the negative reviews. Such strategies usually backfire and reflect that you do not care for your customers. Also, the same companies may threaten to damage your online reputation if you refuse to work with them in the future.
Also Read : ORM strategies for effective brand management
Social media monitoring refers to the process of tracking customer conversations via automated tools. You can track your brand name, products/services, and more.
Setting keywords, search queries, and phrases that are relevant to your business is also possible. The social monitoring tools provide convenience and help you to understand customer sentiments regarding your brand and offerings.
To keep your online image intact, social media monitoring is a must. Tracking online conversations may reveal the customers who are not happy with your products or services. Reaching out to them with appropriate resolutions improves your relationship with them. It also prevents further escalation of their unrest or anger.
4. Crisis Management
Crisis management is a process of resolving the negative sentiments and emotions of the customers before they escalate further. It involves preventive measures that are to be taken to pacify angry or dissatisfied customers. At the same time, it may involve damage control measures after the occurrence of a crisis event.
Suppose that you sell smartphones and one of your smartphones is being ridiculed for its technical flaws. Before this news goes viral and spoils your reputation, you should call back the smartphones that have been distributed in the market.
Also, send an apology letter to all the customers who have already bought it. If necessary, publish the apology note on your social pages and accounts as well.
Ensure that their issues will be resolved on priority at the service centres. Do not charge any fees for rectifying the technical issues. Moreover, you may provide them with discount coupons or offers for their future purchases. This will make your customers happy and will help you retain them.
5. Search Engine Suppression
Suppressing negative content is also a part of the online reputation management strategy. A fake review management firm may use unethical means to suppress content. However, you must take quick action to remove the negative content from your search engine results.
If the negative content is published through an article, you can request the author to take the article down. If the author does not agree, you can contact the publisher site or platform to remove the content. The platforms can take it down if the article violates their content guidelines.
For instance, if the article spews hate or spreads misleading information about your products/brand, you can ask them to remove it.
In case both these moves do not work, you can contact Google directly and highlight the issues in the content. You just have to visit their support desk and fill out an online form to report the matter.
Potential Scams and Red Flags
Now that we have answered the first question i.e. is reputation management ethical? Now, let’s go through the potential scams and red flags associated with an ORM agency involved in reputation management scams:
1. Guaranteed Results
ORM agencies involved in online reputation management scams usually claim to provide guaranteed results to their clients. Online reputation management is a continuous process and cannot provide 100% satisfactory results. So, any company that claims 100% satisfaction may indulge in ORM fraud.
Maybe an ORM agency claims that your website will always rank in the 1st spot in search engine results. Or else, it may say that negative reviews will never appear on review sites. Such claims are beyond the scope of any reputation management agency. Therefore, you must stay away from those who make such tall claims and promises.
2. Fake Reviews or Content
Most fraud ORM agencies use fake reviews and content to justify their service cost. They might publish fake case studies and client testimonials on their site to lure you. It is recommended you conduct a thorough background check to verify the legitimacy of their ORM services.
Only trust the positive reviews on professional sites like Glassdoor. Trustworthy ORM agencies usually have a detailed portfolio of their offerings. They also provide references for their previous works if you ask for them. So, companies that refrain from sharing references or work profiles may indulge in ORM fraud.
3. Lack of Transparency
The ORM firms you collaborate with must be transparent when it comes to their pricing, services, and work processes. Only making big claims and not having defined reputation management strategies is a big red flag.
So, any company that offers its services at surprisingly low rates may charge additional rates in the future. Ensure that their contracts contain all the details of the pricing and services before proceeding to sign them.
4. Excessive Fees
To stay away from online reputation management fraud, only work with the ORM agencies that provide accurate details of their services and fees.
Some fake agencies may charge lower fees to lure their clients. Some of them may charge excessive fees to justify their false promises. Stay away from both as neither of them will deliver their promise and offer competent services.
An ethical ORM company usually offers different plans to their clients. Each plan contains clear details about the services and associated charges.
Some agencies even allow you to pick the services you need, after which they send a detailed pricing quotation. Work with such agencies rather than with those who offer no details about the prices of specific ORM services.
5. Unrealistic Claims
It is easy to identify the unrealistic claims made by unethical ORM companies if you understand online reputation management services. Most fake companies claim to be the number one ORM firm in the world.
They claim that their content dominates the search engines and helps you remain on the top every time. However, they have no idea of how the Google algorithm works. So, understand the process of reputation management before signing contracts with such companies. If you are not an expert, take suggestions from colleagues and friends who are experts in this field.
Making Informed Decisions
To avoid an online reputation management scam, you must make some informed decisions. The key strategies to work with an ethical ORM company have been discussed below:
Do your research before collaborating with any ORM agency. Ask for detailed portfolios from ORM agencies and compare their services. Get social proof of their work.
For instance, ask them to show the conversations where their clients have praised them on various social media platforms.
Create a detailed list of ORM services. Conduct in-depth research on each service to determine whether it is required for your business or not.
You can consult an expert to prepare a detailed report on ORM services and agencies. Ask them to highlight the top ORM agencies in the market. You can contact these agencies and inquire about their services.
Only engage with reputation management agencies who are willing to share their work details. They must specialise in creating transparent ORM campaigns. If they need additional resources to maximise the results of a campaign, they must be upfront while conveying it.
Moreover, they must offer detailed reports on how their strategies are boosting your online visibility and image. Work with ORM agencies that not only track your online reputation but also have plans to improve it.
3. Customized Solutions
The ORM firms must have customised solutions for every problem. For example, they must have SEO experts on their team who can suppress negative content. Also, they must have a roadmap to improve brand perception and visibility.
Their crisis management plans must contain details regarding their plan of action for specific crises.
For example, they must have an accurate plan to handle social media crises. If a crisis is related to a faulty product or service, they must employ PR strategies to minimise any reputation damage.
Communication is the key when it comes to choosing the right ORM agency. Ask for all the information you need to make an informed decision. Here are some questions you can ask while communicating with an ORM agency:
- How will the agency generate positive reviews?
- Does the agency track online reputation through software? If yes, which are the software applications and tools they use to monitor online reputation?
- What are their crisis management plans?
- Can they provide you with access to their reputation management software while working with you?
- Do they resort to white-label reputation management services or not?
- Do they need to access your social accounts and handles? If yes, they should promise to return the credentials like website domain name and access once you stop working with them. The details regarding the same should be explicitly mentioned in the contract.
- Does the company have case studies or success stories of their previous clients? Are they willing to share the client references?
Many fake companies get access to the domain name and social pages. Once you stop working with them, they might threaten you to use them illegally. So, you must be upfront while discussing these details with the reputation management agencies.
5. Realistic Expectations
Finally, you must set realistic expectations while working with reputation management companies. Don’t expect them to transform your online identity and customer perception within a week.
Online reputation management is a consistent process that requires various strategies to work in cohesion. So, it will take some time to see the actual results of these strategies.
With that, you are now aware of the dark side of online reputation management. Reputation management scams are common in the industry. However, it must not dishearten your efforts to improve your online image.
Working with the right reputation management agency can help you avoid ORM scams. Also, you must get access to technological solutions to monitor brand image and track conversations.
For instance, Konnect Insights which is an omnichannel customer experience management platform also offers access to social ORM tools. It also comes with social listening, social analytics, social publishing, and other capabilities. You can access its crisis management features to keep your online image clean and polished. Check the Konnect Insights website today and learn more about its ethical reputation management services!