Today anyone can ruin your online reputation in minutes.
How is your company’s online reputation? You may not be aware of it, but your business could be getting a negative online reputation. Negative attention can come from anywhere: an unsatisfied customer, a disgruntled ex-employee or a competitor aiming to smear your name.
To maintain control of your brand, you need to adopt a reputation management strategy. If not addressed, negative comments and posts tend to take on a life of their own. They show up on Google, Twitter, Facebook or anywhere in the digital world.
Managing your online reputation takes a well thought out strategy that consists of several elements to ensure that you continue to be seen in a positive light. These elements include:
Monitoring. Monitor your current position. Search your company’s name and the names of your employees, sales staff, competitors and vendors. What do you see? Is there anything negative showing up? If so, can you respond to it by way of a comment section? This is the exact same information your customers will see, of course, when they look you up. Next, conduct the same searches on your competitors. How does their online reputation compare? How does your reputation stack up?
Evaluation. Evaluate the content of the mentions, and decide which ones need to be followed up, and how you intend to do that. Also consider who is saying it; what’s their reach? Is it someone influential? Is a just a troll? As a rule, engaging trolls is counter-productive. Someone influential requires kid glove treatment.
Reaction. Speed is a critical factor. If you spot trouble, get into the conversation early. This can prevent the problem from festering and gathering its own momentum. Before you leap in, make sure you understand the issue. Address the sites and comment-makers directly, offering them a chance to explain their negative feelings so that you can offer some sort of reconciliation. Or request that they take potentially slanderous content down immediately. One common tactic is to try and take it offline and reach resolution that way, rather than have the entire affair become a matter of public record.
Remember, it’s illegal for people to defame you, so don’t hesitate to consider legal action if the problem warrants it.
Online reputation management has grown increasingly complex. It requires relentless attention to what’s being said about you online. You must pay constant attention to a diverse group that now includes media, public relations, environmental groups, bloggers, social media professionals and citizen journalists. Armed with little more than a computer and an opinion, anyone can undo a company’s online reputation instantly by disseminating misinformation and innuendo.