Your business has an online presence. Managing that online presence for business success is a constant, ongoing, and ever-evolving process. As the internet evolves, pieces that make up the online presence management puzzle change. New pieces can be added to the puzzle. The relative importance of each piece of the puzzle to your business can change. In the not too distant past, just setting up a website was all you had to do to have an online presence. Then the use of search engines grew, and it became necessary to be ranked well in those search engines if you wanted success. Better search engine ranking became the ticket to success. As search engines evolved, Search Engine Optimization continues to evolve, and being an SEO expert remains a big piece of the puzzle for having a strong online presence. It is important to remember, however, that website SEO is still just a piece of the Online Presence Management puzzle. Then, the rise in the use of smart phones placed a stronger emphasis on local search. To have a strong online presence you needed to make sure your website was properly indexed in all of the many local directories and registered correctly with the search engines so that you would be well represented to local searchers. Then we saw the rise of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin became part of the internet landscape. As social media became a new arena for engaging potential customers. Social Media strategy became yet another piece in the puzzle of managing your online presence. For many types of businesses, potential customers expect a certain level of social media participation when making decisions about that business.
Now, more people searching the internet are paying attention to reviews they find online while searching for businesses. Reviews appear in social media forums. New forums like Yelp and Angie’s List allow people to comment on their experience with your business. These sites have gained popularity rapidly. Add to that the ever expanding number of bloggers who may be commenting on their experience with your business. It seems that good old-fashioned word of mouth recommendations have found a voice on the internet, and that voice is getting louder and more influential. In his book, The End of Business as Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to succeed in the Consumer Revolution, Brian Solis addresses this fundamental shift. He states that “Simply by discussing the experiences we’ve had with brands and business on review sites, in blogs, and in online communities, we’ve created a new world of consumer influence. The consumer revolution is already underway, and the question is: How do you better understand the role you play in this production as a connected or social consumer as well as business professional?” Some in the advertising community recognize this groundswell of change. In May, at ad:tech in San Francisco, Antonio Lucio, the global marketing chief of Visa, claimed that “recommendations are the new advertising”. Lucio suggested that brands develop “an army of advocates” to promote their products via social media in lieu of traditional media.
Like all of the other pieces of the puzzle of managing a strong online presence, online reputation management now needs to be considered when planning a strategy for a successful Online Presence. But as Online Reputation Management becomes more talked about by online marketing consultants, remember that this newest piece of the Online Presence Management puzzle is just that, a piece of the puzzle. Successful Online Presence Management requires being constantly on the lookout for the trends and changes like the rise in importance of online reputation management. But, and equally important, keep an eye on the big picture of Online Presence Management, of which online reputation management is just one piece.