5 Online Reputation Management Tips for Authors

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July 15, 2015
image credit: 1aled.fotomaps.ru
image credit: 1aled.fotomaps.ru

What is Online Reputation Management (ORM)?

For starters, it’s about maintaining and improving, or restoring a positive image online. If you have a good reputation on the internet, ORM will help you keep it up and make it better. If your reputation is going downhill for a certain reason, ORM will help you get it back up.

The reason why ORM exists is because bad publicity also does. In Hollywood, there’s a saying that “there is no such thing as bad publicity.” That’s all good if you’re a celebrity with a huge fan base who worships you. But, we aren’t celebrities are we? With brands it may not be the same case. As an author your brand is your name. You have to protect it at all costs.

When you receive negative reviews or if hate sites dedicated to you exist online, don’t ever think that it’s the end of the line for you. With the right strategies, you can counteract the negativity and get your good reputation back.

If you’re currently experiencing a shaky reputation online or if you simply want to avoid it, follow these 5 tips:

1. Respond to comments publicly, quickly, and politely.

Sometime in 2007, JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, revealed that Hogwarts headmaster, Dumbledore, was actually gay. After the reveal, a fan tweeted her, “Thank you so much for writing Harry Potter. I wonder why you said that Dumbledore is gay because I can’t see him in that way.” Rowling was quick to respond, “Maybe because gay people just look like… people?”

Although the fan’s tweet wasn’t actually a criticism of any sort, and more like an inquiry based on curiosity, the fact that the author was so quick to respond made a lot of her readers’ day. It wasn’t only a public, quick, and (somehow) polite response; it was an entertaining one! Rowling’s tweets are just one of the reasons why she has such a loyal fan base. As an author yourself, you might want to follow her in her footsteps to strengthen your reputation and gain a larger following.

2. Don’t let negative comments get the best of you.

In 2010, Dark Horse Espresso got a tweet from a customer who criticized their café’s scarcity of electrical outlets even though most of the customers were constantly on their laptops while at the café. Instead of apologizing and creating some form of compromise, Dark Horse Café replied, “that’s awesome… we are in the coffee business, not the office business. We have plenty of outlets to do what we need.” Needless to say, they gained a bad rap from their response.

Okay, here’s a different example. Do you remember the recent #AskELJames fiasco on Twitter? It garnered plenty of funny and sarcastic (and harsh) tweets from people who disliked her erotic book series. Always remember, the internet is full of trolls. The #AskELJames event did not turn out well, but the author was able to respond to the tweets, selectively however.

Don’t let the hurtful words get to you. If you think about it, every single person in the world has been criticized at some point. Be the bigger person. Instead of reacting on impulse, think of ways to respond to negative comments. More importantly, don’t respond out of anger. Don’t insult someone back just because your ego got hurt. Word spreads like wildfire on the internet. If you say something unfavorable while you’re in a sticky situation, everything’s going to get worse.

3. Address the criticisms positively.

As mentioned previously, everyone gets criticized. People are critical by nature, after all. When you receive criticisms online (e.g. through negative comments, bad reviews, or hate sites), find out why you are receiving this type of feedback and look for ways to improve your work. Publicly announcing that you’re trying to improve on your writing can also help. This way, people will know that you are aware of their feedback and you’re trying your best to give them high-quality content. Learn from the criticisms. Use them as your guide to creating better content in the future.

In 2013, Starbucks created a website called MyStarbucksIdea, where customers can share their ideas and help improve the brand’s products and services, as well as customer experience. They also created a Twitter account for this (@MyStarbucksIdea), making it easier for everybody to express their ideas. Starbucks is also very active on social media, welcoming feedback and responding to criticisms gracefully.

4. Get more people to give you positive reviews.

When people are planning to buy books, especially online, they often turn to reviews to see if the book is really worth the purchase or not. A popular website that people visit to check for book reviews is Goodreads. Readers can rate and review books for free on the site. The top rated books on the site go to the “Popular Top Rated Books” shelf, which many readers would use as reference when making purchasing decisions. As of July 8, 2015, the top 10 is dominated by books from the Harry Potter book series. While getting into the top 10 may be quite ambitious, having good reviews on your book’s page will surely help people decide to buy it.

You should always remember that you cannot avoid getting bad reviews every now and then. What you need to do is to make sure that the good outweighs the bad.

Here are a couple of tips on how to get more positive reviews:

  • Ask your friends and family to write reviews for your book.
  • Give away free book copies (signed, if possible) and let readers leave a review in exchange.

5. Keep posting high-quality, SEO-friendly content.

Attract potential readers by making your presence known online. Write high-quality articles that your target market would want to read. Do you have a book in the YA genre? Then write articles that young adults would want to read. Research on what your target audience’s interests are. This way, you will be able to get a hold of their attention. If you keep posting content that your audience likes you will gain a loyal fan base to back you up in case your online reputation starts to dwindle.

Also, be on the lookout for popular key search terms when creating online content. Whether it is a promotional material for your book or a personal blog post, make sure that it is easily visible to internet users. To find useful keywords for your online content, try generating them from websites like the following:

Don’t worry too much about the negative comments and bad publicity. Now that you know about Online Reputation Management, you can easily combat the critics and continue to strengthen your reputation online.

Best of luck!




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