Online reputation management (ORM) refers to type of service that enables companies to conveniently monitor and manage their online profile. Given the proliferation of numerous online-review websites, social networks and blogs, it is common for firms to receive both positive and negative reviews. Because it is possible for negative reviews to overwhelm positive ones, and also because negative reviews provide important insights into opportunities for the company to improve its goods and services, proper monitoring of online reviews (as well as responding appropriately to these reviews) can be beneficial both to the firm and its customers.Typically Online Reputation Management companies, working collaboratively with their clients, offer services such as: Creation of online profiles; Manage Reviews Online; Brand mentioning; Monitoring and Insight; Responding to complaints and advice pertaining to rectifying problems with goods and services.
It should be kept in mind that proper online reputation management is no substitute for responsive, meaningful, timely customer service, good product design, and intelligent product engineering. Nor is ORM a substitute for continuous improvement in a firm’s products and services. ORM is compatible with sound business principles, in particular the need to provide trustworthy goods and services at a fair market price. However, ORM should never be construed as a substitute for proper business practices.
The practice of reputation management raises many ethical considerations. There is no agreement within the industry on where to draw the line on issues of disclosure, astroturfing and censorship. Firms have been known to hire staff to pose as bloggers on third party sites without disclosing they were paid, and some have been criticized for asking websites to remove negative posts. In some instances the act of unethical reputation management can itself be risky to the reputation of the firm, if their tactics to hide negative information are exposed.
Some firms practice ethical forms of reputation management. The Online Reputation Management Association tries to promote ethical best practices through a certification program. Google considers there to be nothing inherently wrong with reputation management as the industry was formed in 2007. Google even introduced a toolset in 2011 for users to monitor their online identity and request removal of unwanted content. Many firms are selective about clients they accept. For example, they may avoid individuals that committed violent crimes that are looking to push information about their crimes lower on search results.