13 Jan AiroAV Malware Affirm: 7 reasons why you need to update your reputation management…
The reputation management industry has come a long way since the BIA Kelsey Group predicted that it would become a $5 billion industry sector by 2016. Indeed, there are more review management solutions, sentiment analysis monitoring services, and agencies engaged in ORM than ever before!
However, I am not certain that I would call online reputation management a “mature” industry, yet. Search algorithms have become more sophisticated, making search engine optimization of positive content more challenging to supplant negative items in search. Social media platforms, responsive to criticisms for enabling astroturfing in politics, have tightened security such that it is more challenging for agencies to manage accounts on behalf of reputation clientele. Laws protecting major online companies from liabilities for assisting defamation victims continue to be entrenched. And, personal and private data has become more and more exposed despite some efforts to reduce the public’s exposure.
All of this has made reputations more vulnerable to serious damage and has made reputation management more difficult in terms of clean-up of issues or even proactive development.
But, there are some positive things happening, too, so things are not all doom-and-gloom. Consciousness about online harassment, bullying, extortion and sextortion are on the upswing. The FBI and the Department of Justice have taken more of an interest in helping victims in such situations, and local law enforcement agencies have been increasing their capabilities for assisting in such situations. (See the California Attorney General’s Cyber Exploitation resource, for example.)
So, I have a few predictions for what may be in store for online reputations in 2020 — prepare yourself and prepare your company for what is one of the most important aspects of personal and corporate identity.
2020 predictions for online reputation management
1. SEO will continue to become more difficult for improving and controlling online reputations. My prediction 14 years ago that the practice of SEO might become eclipsed by user-centered design has largely come true. Most respectable SEO consultants now incorporate usability factors and user experience into large portions of their analysis and recommendations, in addition to search-oriented technical elements. Simple methods and tricks for manipulating search engines to rank webpages higher have largely been replaced by solid, mainstream marketing practices combined with a user-centered design focus and solid technical website construction. Further, the advent of search engines’ machine learning processing has made website ranking determinations far more holistic in nature — making it hard to tell what factors are ones that tip the decision as to whether one page outranks another or not. Ironically, aspects of reputation are now search ranking factors, so SEO practitioners need to pay attention to reputational elements as part of holistic optimization efforts.
2. Social media profiles will continue to grow in importance for one’s online identity. Not only do well-developed and actively-maintained social media profiles tend to rank advantageously in search engine results, but users seek them out for individuals and companies when exploring online identities that are new to them. For individuals, simply hiding one’s social media profiles does not really cut it anymore when potential employers and business partners are seeking information. And, consumers deeply desire access via social media profiles to communicate directly to companies — neglecting a company’s social media presence can result in increased consumer frustration, and result in more negative online reviews and ratings.
3. Laws will continue to favor large internet companies, protecting them from liability for content produced by third parties that may appear on their platforms. Silicon Valley lobbyists continue to hold sway in Washington and in state legislatures, keeping laws very friendly towards the large internet companies, resulting in keeping them largely non-liable for helping individuals and organizations remove false and defamatory information online. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was enacted in 1996 specifically to save internet companies on costs, while the U.S. legislature knew it would result in collateral damage for small companies and individuals. Arguably, it is time for Section 230 immunity to be changed, but there has been little movement to do anything that would substantially help people. While you might believe that our European counterparts have it better due to their “right to be forgotten” laws, this online “wild west” free-for-all that is maintained in the U.S. negatively impacts anyone in the EU that does business with America because their right to be forgotten is limited to searches conducted within their countries — people in the U.S. can still see contents in search that is no longer relevant or false about them.
4. Business review monitoring will become easier and less costly for companies. There are now multiple companies that provide some degree of review monitoring services across multiple review sites and for multiple business locations. What was once a difficult and costly effort for major chain store companies is now far easier to do from a central office. The increasing number of providers of these services is also starting to enable lower costs as competition in the marketplace produces more options.
5. Public relations and crisis communications will rise as even more important strategic components for online reputation, as opposed to strategies of only ignoring-or-displacing of negative items online. Public relations has been a solid discipline since before the internet, of course, but companies and individuals are again recognizing its value now after many modern companies attempted to skate by without professional staff or external…