Managing your reputation online is critical, particularly in an era where social media is so prominently used by people of all races, nationalities, and age groups. What your customers (or even others) say about you or your company on the Internet can be a good thing – but it can also be extremely damaging when others’ opinions or comments are negative. Today, there are plenty of online reputation management services to choose from, but unfortunately many companies fail to give managing their reputations much thought until afterugly comments or even false rumours have already escaped – and online, you can rest assured that anything negative will travel at the speed of light!
While there are certainly some very “shady” people on this earth who need reputation management (which, by the way, has somewhat tarnished the image of some reputation management companies), it’s different for legitimate, honest companies who simply want to maintain a good name and trusted brand. Any business owner knows that occasionally, there will be a disgruntled customer, employee, or even a “sneaky” competitor who will make derogatory comments simply to gain attention – negative attention for the company. Even though the comments may be completely unfounded, too many of them and your reputation/brand can be destroyed.
No, but unfortunately it’s usually the negative or controversial stuff that makes it to page one of the search results! Participating in ORM, which is basically publishing positive content in order to mitigate the negative, is a practice supported by Google.
How can you publish positive content to accomplish this? By getting social media profiles ranked via a parasite hosting strategy. Parasite hosts include most of the social media sites you’re familiar with, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and You Tube.
Understanding how to use social media is also essential, particularly if you have employees or others who may respond to questions or comment for your company. While it may sound strange, a business owner or employee can actually make the situation worse by responding the wrong way.
Monitoring mentions of your company/brand name, employees’ names, and user names is also critical; after all, it’s impossible to nip the problem in the bud if you aren’t aware it’s happening! There are many tools which are effective for ORM, including Yahoo Alerts, Google Web Alerts, Mention.net, and Twitter Search. Online reputation management services such as those offered at Outspokenmedia.com may be something you want to consider as well.
Properly handling alerts is critical; when someone makes a negative comment, a customer shares his/her displeasure with your product/service, or someone blatantly lies about your company, the last thing you want to do is respond in a way that is negative or defensive. Instead, take responsibility if you are in the wrong. Decide whether it would be more advantageous for your business to respond to the negativity on a public platform, or in a one-on-one conversation.
Ultimately, providing outstanding customer service should be your top priority, whether handling an unhappy customer in a professional manner, calming customer concerns, or dealing with someone who is simply out for revenge. For many business owners, there is barely enough time in the day already; however, online reputation management is a must whether you choose to handle it yourself, or have someone else take care of it for you.