Online Reputation Management Pitfalls

Thursday, June 11, 2009
Posted by Dustin Busmann @ 9:09 am

“The $99, Do-It-Yourself, Heart Transplant”

With the popularity of do-it-yourself shows on Television and the internet, many businesses have adopted this ideology in their business, and tried to manage their online reputation management (ORM) on their own. This can be as disastrous as attempting the above heart surgery at home; some things are better left to experience.
Here are some common misconceptions and actual statements that I have had given to me as a reason to not use professional ORM services:

“I was thinking of paying some high school kid to manage my social media marketing for a couple of hours per day after they get home from school.”

If this is your plan for social media, perhaps you would let the person who is good at mowing grass also cut your hair? This analogy, while a bit extreme, correctly reflects the situation: Teenagers are great at taking overhead camera-phone pictures, and posting the pictures and writing “how they are feeling” on their favorite social media sites. Some may even be more technically proficient than just the average user’s abilities. Does this mean they will expertly manage, protect and promote your online business identity? Social media has the stigma of being wholly juvenile, while the reality is that when properly applied, it is also a powerful reputation management tool. Nielsen Online’s March issue states that Social networks and blogs are now the 4th most popular online activity. This now ranks ahead of personal e-mailing.  Social media and online communities also account for almost 10% of all internet time that is spent.

Social media is capable of boosting search engine results in your favor with demonstrable and rapid increases in ranking on search engines. In addition, when you read negative commentary about your business or person, is your skilled teenager aptly equipped to strategically reduce the relevance of the negative posting while enhancing the positive search results in your favor? Most importantly, when the time comes for legal action, what kind of action will your teenager take?  This leads me to the next misconception:

“I have a good attorney who handled my divorce. If an online reputation management issue comes up, I always use him.”

I agree it is always good to have a competent attorney. I can say the same about a competent plumber. I will take the next step and say that, I don’t want either one filling in for the other’s job, if one isn’t available.    A common misconception is that using people who specialize is always the most expensive choice. I have attorneys as clients who use our ORM services and add their legal fees to our fees and then resale the services to their own clients. Had their clients chosen to use our specialized services in the first place, they would have saved the added legal fees; using an ORM specialist in most cases is actually a more cost effective route. In regular dealings with issues of this nature on a daily basis, ORM specialists insure that they have all the necessary tools and contacts are already in place.  We have contracts and agreements pre-secured to streamline many of the pitfalls that the divorce attorney would have to source, contact and make arrangements or contract with. When we receive a new client, our team goes to work with each specialized service we provide and there is no learning curve for the client  to wait for; we already know what we are doing and how to do it, expertly.  This leads me to the next misconception:

“I have a web marketing team, and they should be doing this.”

Marketing is one thing and Legal is quite another and mixing legal and marketing is something entirely different, however this mix is a situation that ORM specialists exist in and actually thrive under. When it comes time for enforcement, having someone who understands the full issue and how to properly enforce your case is of utmost importance. Many marketing personnel may be expert with standard marketing techniques, but only know the basics or, are ignorant about how to properly submit your website to search engines. ORM specialists know how to optimize your site submissions and how to put your best foot forward when it comes to your online presence. Additionally, they have the knowledge to prevent the easily crossed line that gets you banned from search engines for your perceived or accidental deceptive practices. This industry’s requirements are far from a cookie-cutter or standard approach; each situation possesses unique pitfalls and challenges, mainly due to the variety of clientele. Adapting a specialized solution may seem easy enough, but if you try the next misconceived solution, you may learn a more expensive lesson than you ever imagined.

“I am just going to buy one of those ORM kits online”

I have never personally seen a kit of this nature for sale, but if I did, I would be looking for a bottle of snake oil included. “One-size-fits-all” solutions rarely, if ever, fit any solution and don’t perform any one task very well. We have all seen what a “website-in-a-box” website looks like, and you can identify these sites on first sight in most cases. Also when you step back and look at what you are doing; you are using a widely available solution that anyone with similar cash can use and achieve similar results to you. The obvious net result is that you will rank the same as any of your competition using the kit. I would submit that you can achieve similar success by doing nothing, and save the few dollars spent on your “ORM in a box”.
Remember that when your online reputation is at stake, how much do you value it? Do you trust the team that has existed through the internet changes since the inception of online reputation management, or do you trust the neighbor’s kid, the plumber or maybe the ORM in a box to handle your reputation?

Do-it-yourself is fine for adding a deck or setting tile, but it can be hazardous to your online reputation.

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