Your business relies on its reputation. In fact, online reputation management services can make or break you! The internet is all around us now, and people like Mark Zuckerberg have even said that online connectivity should be seen as a ‘basic human right’! What this means, practically, is that the internet is going to take over even more of our lives, turning it increasingly into a society.
What Is Online Reputation Management?
Very simply put, it is the process that makes sure that, when people search for you online, they find positive things that paint you in a good light. Turn this back to the internet becoming a society, and you will quickly see the parallel. Just a few decades ago, if we wanted to know where to shop, we would ask our friends and trust whatever it was they said. Today, we ask the internet, and we trust it just as much. It doesn’t matter whether the internet is right in what it is saying, we believe what we find.
In the past, reputation management was part of public relations. The goal was to make sure no negative information was leaked to the press. There have been numerous examples, such as the Food Lion Stores scandal uncovered by ABC, where negative information destroyed a chain of businesses. And that was only by ensuring people watched that single news channel. Today, the internet is global, so it would be nearly impossible to miss something as big as a story like that.
In the vast majority of cases, businesses don’t do anything about their reputation until it is tarnished. They start developing plans of action and response strategies only after someone has said something negative about them. This is a reactive approach, and, while effective, it isn’t enough. You must also be proactive. One of the reasons for this is that, if you have to be reactive, it automatically means that the negative information is already out there for anyone to find. By being proactive, however, you stop those reviews from occurring in the first place.
When you manage your reputation in a proactive manner, you will have a far greater impact. This does mean, however, understanding that it is a full-time thing that you have to be 100% committed to. It means encouraging your customers to leave reviews, it means monitoring what appears about you online, it means writing press releases and blogs that paint you in a good light, creating videos that set you apart as an authority figure, and more.
You must start to see your reputation for what it really is: your greatest asset. It is the amalgamation of all that you have done, every customer that you have ever served. That is something incredibly valuable, and you have to make sure that people see all that hard work and appreciation, and not the opinion of a disgruntled ex-employee or frightened competition spreading lies about you.