Admit You Need ORM to Be Admitted to College

When applying for College, candidates need to have many things in mind: they need to get great scores on the SAT or ACT, letters of recommendation, personal essays and enough extracurricular activities to prove they are good citizens. What many candidates forget is that Colleges are increasingly adopting the habit of Googling the potential students. This means that Online Reputation Management becomes as important for future students as it is for anyone who is applying for a new job.

Usually, the College admission departments are the ones in charge of this task. Probably they are not going to search for each candidate, but your chances are pretty high of being one of the lucky ones Googled by the College where you applied to. Statistics show that 82% of Colleges use Facebook as a recruiting tool, and the number is likely to increase with every passing year.

Since it is better to be safe than sorry, in this article, Reputation Defender will give you a few hints on the kind of things you want to do in order to do the best you can to manage your Online Reputation. It is known that students don’t have great budgets – or a budget at all- to deal with this kind of things, which is why we’ll try to keep it simple and show you why you need ORM and how to start using it to increase your odds of being accepted to College.

What College Admissions Officers Are Searching for Online?

The information that can be found about you online should be a positive reflection of your whole self. Your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and any kind of post should reflect that you are a strong candidate for any College.

Against what anyone could think, admission officers actually don’t want to find out about any negative stuff related to their future students. In fact, what they first look for is positive information about a student being as good as its application suggests, maybe even better. Schools just want to get a positive vibe from what may be their future students. Lucky for students, only 35% admission officers report finding negative information about applicants. This means that 65% of applicants pass the online scrutiny test.

The Nuclear Option Is Not an Option

Many candidates believe that the best way to go in order to keep a neat online reputation is by deleting their social media accounts, this is called the Nuclear Option. This not only leads to a life of boredom in the 21st century but also looks suspicious for Colleges. Probably in the admission department, they will start wondering why you don’t have a Facebook account. These thoughts may lead to the idea that you have something to hide.

Most experts believe the Nuclear Option is a bad idea, they insist that students who delete or hide their accounts actually will lose control over their Online Reputation since they won’t be able to control what others post about them.

Cleaning Your Online Reputation

Instead of using the Nuclear Option, what students should do is simply cleaning up their Online Reputations by removing trouble spots that might lead the admission counselor to reject their application. Cleaning an Online Reputation can be a lot of work, but it is worth it simply because your academic future depends on it.

In most cases, what Colleges describe as questionable content is poor word choices or photos that imply irresponsible behavior. Also, comments related to drugs and racism.

Image courtesy of Sarah Ross at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Sarah Ross at Flickr.com

What to do then?

Managing your reputation requires a certain amount of commitment. Below you will find a list of things students can do in order to clean their search engine results.

Erase embarrassing photos.

Delete any kind of vulgar language.

Stay away from alcohol or drug consumption references.

Don’t post anything illegal or ethically questionable.

Keep yourself away from comments related to plagiarism.

Don’t complaint about your school or job.

Do not fake information.

You want to make sure the College where you are applying to can find your real name and e-mail you to mature address. They expect you to use proper grammar on your posts and talk about the things you claimed to do when you submitted your application form, like your interests, extracurricular activities or anything that can work as evidence of you saying the truth. Don’t be shy and use social media to talk about your talents, a personal blog, Linkedin, Instagram or Pinterest are good resources where you can show the world what you’ve done.

Once you think you have successfully cleaned your online reputation, it is recommended that you ask a friend or a family member to Google you and see what can be found about you. A fresh set of eyes may help you find trouble spots you hadn’t thought of and let you know about them.

If by any chance you find negative information about you and you don’t have control over it, be proactive and contact the website. Remember, it is your future what is at stake is your future, be careful with it.

To rear more about the things you can do to manage your online reputation before applying to College, click here.

Everything You Need to Know About ORM for Schools

Recently, many schools have realized how important their Online Reputation is. Nowadays the pretty brochure or the neat website are not enough for parents when it comes to choosing the right school for their children. Keeping a clean reputation has become a fundamental priority for schools that want to rank well in search engines, get more students and keep the ones they already have.

Reputation Defender knows that this whole idea about keeping a positive reputation may sound simple, but in reality, schools often have a hard time with online reviews and social media posts. It is very important to pay attention to this issue since the internet is incredibly slow to forget. It does not matter if a school was involved with a drunk teacher scandal 10 years ago, probably parents are going to find this information anyway in Google.

Parents Googling for the worst

Most consumers are constantly Googling everything. If someone wants to know if a specific product is trustworthy, then it will Google it.

With schools and parents, it is the same thing. Parents act like picky consumers who fear for their children’s proper education and safety. They scrutinize everything about the prospective school– and when we say everything, it is EVERYTHING. They manage themselves to find long-forgotten information about it and base their decisions on this kind of old data.

If your school is not using any kind of SEO service, the chances of search engines showing negative information about it are definitely higher. Parents will easily find something dirty ranking higher than other positive reviews about your school. This happens because there are always a few bad stories that remain just because they were absorbed by years of 24-hour news feeds fed by incessantly curious and gossipy parents.

Misunderstandings, upset parents arguing with the principal and politically incorrect teachers, are on top of the subjects that most parents Google. Needless to say that most of these subjects probably were poorly treated by the press, and what could have been a simple situation between a student and its teacher, was sensationalized, twisted, exaggerated and manipulated in a way the media could get a shocking headline perfect for attracting more clicks from the already concerned parents.

Beware of Negative Reviews

The old bad press is only one of your concerns as a school trying to keep a clean Online Reputation. A matter that schools should as well keep in mind is online reviews.

There are a few websites where parents can find online reviews written by others, such as greatschools.org or schooldigger.com. On these websites, people can leave their reviews on the selected school platform. Positive reviews rank well on search engines and can help your school build a strong reputation. On the other hand, negative reviews will definitely destroy your school’s reputation in minutes if you don’t take care of them.

If a school wants to build a strong reputation, it should use an ORM services like Google Alerts that can help it detect when a bad review is posted. As most of the websites where people can rank schools have forums, schools can engage in an open dialog with upset parents and try to solve every single one of their complaints.

Let’s keep in mind that some forums allow users to leave anonymous comments. These comments also need to be taken care of by using an ORM advisor who can tell the school whether it is or not a good to delete a negative comment.

Image courtesy of jdog90 at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of jdog90 at Flickr.com

Students and Social Media

Another important issue to keep in mind in order for schools to have a positive Online Reputation are student posts in social media. This matter can be quite delicate since high school students can be rebel teenagers wanting to gain some popularity among their peers.

Students can create fake accounts and post mischievous content about your school, leading to gossip and misinformation. Fake twitter or Facebook accounts are a quite common tool for students to make fun of their school’s teachers or kitchen lady.

This is probably the riskiest item for schools’ ORM since they are dealing with teenagers and there is virtually nothing that can be done or said to solve this issue besides also using Social Media to minimize the negative impact of the students’ behavior.

What to do then?

Luckily for schools, there are many ORM vendors willing to study their situation and help them out with their reputation management. Some ideal solutions would be to launch multiple websites with highly positive content about the school, make sure all social media profiles are coherent, and get the school in the spotlight for something everyone can be proud of. In the end, good news can go viral and could be very beneficial for schools with reputation issues.

ORM For Hospitals: In The Best of Health

It does not matter if you are a small business or a transnational corporation, nowadays, managing your online reputation is one of the things that matters most. In the healthcare field, Online Reputation Management (ORM) has become a necessity since there are many patients who are more likely to post negative comments in online forums than positive ones. Therefore, hospitals, private practices, physicians and everyone related to healthcare organization’s needs, indeed, to use ORM in order to keep a positive image and prevent a Public Relations (PR) disaster.

Reputation Defender knows that today’s healthcare environment can be quite competitive and a hospital’s reputation is critical in attracting physicians, patients and possible partnering organizations. Even when hospitals can build their reputation by using a variety of resources that include word of mouth, awards and accreditations, online reviews and comments are the ones having the biggest impact when patients are making their decisions as service consumers. For this reasons, hospitals need to use ORM strategies that can help them maintain and protect their reputation and medical prosperity.

Social media mentions, online brand visibility and customer reviews are just some of the things hospitals should be constantly examining in the search of negative comments, false reviews, bad posts, negative attacks and -hopefully- positive feedback. If as a healthcare organization you have some defined goals, you probably will not be likely to reach them unless you follow the next tips:

1 . Be aware of how people perceive you:

One of the beginning points for a Hospitals must be knowing how their patients perceive them. They can survey their communities, physicians and medical staff to know what they think of their service and determinate where is needed to make some changes in order to improve some critical weaknesses. An online survey is ideal since you can just email it and most people will not have to expose themselves, which can lead to more honest answers.

2. Train your employees:

Think about your hospital as a brand, then you must train those who are going to sell that brand to your customers. Hospitals must train their employees on the messages they want to give to their patients, making sure that message will resonate both in their facilities and online. Creating a positive organizational culture where employees love their workplace, makes it ideal for communicating and sharing a positive reputation for the organization. In the, end the comments coming from the hospital staff can be as damaging or beneficial as those coming from unsatisfied patients.

3. Open spaces for online dialogs:

Hospitals should use social media and online channels to listen to their patients. Conversations should by multilateral and enriching, this is why it becomes so important to open spaces where patients can share their opinion. Giving an answer to these opinions, no matter if they are not as positive as you wish they were, allows patients to feel their thoughts are being heard and their inquires solved.

If you don’t know how to respond to negative comments, we recommend you to click here and read one of our articles on this matter.

4. Prepare for crisis:

No reputation is strong enough against bad reviews or a PR disaster. It is known that it takes years for any company to build a positive reputation and only a few seconds to destroy it. Hospitals, just as any other business, need to be prepared for crises, developing a protocol on how to react to those nasty moments. Opening a space for honest communication about the incident and taking actions to prevent a future inconvenient show how important its community is for a Hospital.

5. Beware of Google’s search results:

Since your Hospital is a brand offering services for patients to consume, you need to be aware of the kind of results that pop up when a simple mortal Googles your Hospital’s name. About 60% of consumers base their buying decision on online reviews. User generated content has become way more important than recommendations from family and friends.

Using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ORM strategy that can help filtering and modify the search results.

6. Use social media to improve your reputation:

Image courtesy of Lisa Brewster at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Lisa Brewster at Flickr.com

Hospitals should set up brand alerts via Google Alerts or other similar services. This will allow them to see when and what people are saying about their services, physicians, location, facilities, among other sensitive matters. These alerts identify comments left on social media or other websites and can help hospitals to respond quickly to comments, generating an involving brand experience for patients.

It is obvious that negative online comments can damage your hospital reputation, for this matter you should not leave it to faith, especially when social media is such an important source of communication. Hospitals must take an active part in engaging their patients, physician’s, medical staff and employees, so they can also contribute to the improvement of the Hospital’s reputation.

To read more about ORM for hospitals and healthcare facilities, you can click here.

Reputation Marketing: It was never so easy to be known online

There is a wrong belief about Reputation Management: the only users that pay for this service are those who need to clean their bad actions or mistakes from the search engines record, or people who need to clean it because of other people’s bad actions. The truth is that even though they are common users of reputation management companies, there is one more use and a whole market to explore and conquer: reputation marketing. There are companies that has not done anything wrong, nor anyone has done it to them, and yet, they use reputation management services for improving their marketing strategies and building an excellent reputation online form the start.

It is tremendously useful, as we all know it, in those business where reputation is a matter of life and death, like hotels, restaurants, tourist destinations or cruise ships (we could affirm that it is so for any company, but in some industries, a bad reputation could drive a company to file for bankruptcy). Even though the restaurant and hospitality industry seems to be the most affected by bad online reviews, personal service providers (doctors, lawyers, consultants, etc.) and any other local business are business targets of reputation management companies. Reputation marketing and the proper building of good online reputation are expanding businesses.

Reputation Marketing is the result of a mixture of ideas (just like in every kind of successful business, which evolve and adapt to the different needs of current markets): brand marketing and reputation management. In a world connected by social networks in our new millennium, the reputation of any brand is inspected online almost in the same way as in real-time by clients. We all know that when consumers are well-informed, the products and services they pay for online will require an average of six to ten online reviews. People is careful with their money and about what are they buying. Actually, seventy percent of online consumers trust more online reviews than the advertising the company pays so much for. Business owners usually don’t realize that consumers want an enough amount of information for feeling comfortable. So, reviews and reputation in general are essential factors for any company’s marketing.

What if your bank checks your online reputation (and your traditional credit ratings) for calculating your loan? What if talent-hunters contact you thanks to the experience you’ve shown online? What if your renting a house status helps you to rent cars everywhere you go? Guess what: it already happens, in some ways you would never imagine, because everything is connected online (it sounds scary, right.)

So, welcome to the reputation business, where your online record (the one you write and the one you don’t) becomes more relevant for doing business than credit histories. The worth of reputation is actually an old topic the online world. Five star on Amazon, reputation on eBay, Michelin stars for restaurants… The only difference at the current moment is that the general skill for gathering information all over the web is better every time than twenty years ago.

A well-built online reputation means a huge potential for any company, in any sector; not just in those where trust is the factor number one that takes clients to pay money for (especially in those cases where customers don’t know the product or service, like a medicine they will take for the first time, a movie they have not seen or a gym they would like to visit in another city.)

So, a five-stars review could mean the difference of picking up the phone for attending customers or not, and, of course, it applies for your competition. Thanks to the reputation marketing process, anyone could build and direct the reputation of his/her business for reaching more clients. The main difference between reputation marketing and reputation management, is that, in the latter, the process for improving the reputation of any company or person is a passive process of maintenance that ends when the client feels satisfied with the results (his/her name, or the name of his/her company is not related to the bad actions of their own, or others, on the first pages of search engines.) It is just about making things look better, and it stops when things actually look better. Reputation marketing, on the contrary, is an active process, as any marketing activity, and could work constantly, again as any marketing activity.

Image courtesy of christopher_brown at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of christopher_brown at Flickr.com

For small businesses, the world-wide influence of online reputation is tremendous. Accredited organizations like banks, investors or foundations will most probably look for the business’ online reputation of their clients or potential contract-parts for figuring out if it is a risk or not to do business. In our hyper-connected world, it would be reasonable to realize that business could be affected by online reputation, just like in the old times, where honor and words had more value than today (check this case, for example.)

Reputation Management Strategies: How to Respond to Negative Comments

A strong presence online will allow your brand to be known and easily reached by potential customers.  Being present in the most important online channels will provide a space for people to interact with your brand, receive information about your products and services and have their questions responded.  However, this also implies challenges because directly and before all of your followers, any client or consumer can express openly what they think about your service, including giving negative feedback.  Negative feedback about your brand about your brand can be posted in the form of a message on your website or in your wall of Facebook. They can also appear in review sites and appear in the results of search engines.  These are some of the ways your company can being criticized in public. Whether you are new in the art of managing your business reputation or you have been present in social media for quite some time, what would be the best way to react to a negative comment or criticism?

The way you tackle negative comments can make a huge difference for your business online image. Here at Reputation Defender, we will help you identify the kinds of negative comments and give you some suggestions that will help you handle this kind of situations the best way possible and avoid the consequences of a bad reputation.

Image courtesy of Government of Alberta at Flickr.com
Image courtesy of Government of Alberta at Flickr.com

Where are These Comments Coming From?

1 . A customer who has had a negative experience with your brand and lets you know:

This kind of people shows their dissatisfaction sometimes in a proper and polite way, other times in a less friendly way.  They are trying to convey their complaint so a solution can be offered or if someone else has gone through the same experience.  Their main goal is not to destroy anyone’s reputation but find an effective solution to their problem.

2. An aggressive customer

These users can act out of the anger felt at the moment and because of this, they describe a negative experience using exaggerated details in a very impolite language. The nature of these users’ complaints is unclear since they will not be satisfied with an answer. They will be hostile anyways.  This type of users not only need an effective answer, but need follow up to make sure they are carefully managed.  

3. Trolls

This type of user will post comments that are provoking, irrelevant or outside of the communities interest.  They attack your business and are not looking for solutions, and wants to simply destroy your reputation.  They are easy to detect because the language they use is not appropriate.  Their criticism is destructive and even recommend other brands.

If you want to understand more the term “troll”, visit the website https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

What can you do?

Your Timely Answer Matters

Responding promptly and wisely is always advisable.  The most appropriate thing to do is not to take too long to provide an answer. A timely answer is important when you do not want the problem to escalate to bigger proportions. The best way to let your followers know you care about them and that their opinion matters is by responding.

Do not Overreact

Additionally, it is easy to get emotional and end up using offensive language when someone is attacking your brand, especially if you are taking it personal. That’s why, before answering, consider taking a break, getting away from the situation for a few minutes and asking for the opinion of someone unbiased about how to respond in a sensible and professional manner.  

Politeness is Essential

Even if a customer is rude, never reply in the same manner. Always be cordial and use polite language.  Basic things such as a greeting, an answer and a farewell might help users to calm down.  Also, try to sympathize with the user’s’ situation.  Looking at the situation from their perspective will help you understand the intention behind the comment.  

Your clients, your lawyers

If you have loyal customers, partners, or allies that are willing to support you, they will likely post comments in your defense. Let them do it by all means. The essence of reputation is what people say in public, especially if they are witnesses of the great customer service you have provided for them.

Accurate information

You are allowed you to give your version of story to try to counteract the effects of a negative comment. When the data or the details are incorrect you have the right to correct them.  

If necessary, apologize

Did your business make mistake? Then, offer a sincere apology. Accept the responsibility and take the necessary actions to fix the problem as soon as possible.

Ask yourself, is this an opportunity to improve?

Sometimes, public criticism is a gift that comes in disguise. It can be an opportunity to correct a problem or improve a product or service.

If you want more tips to manage your reputation online, read our blog post.