Reputation Management

Why Managing Your Online Reputation Matters

It is pretty much accepted that people are affected daily by what others think and say about them – especially online.  Reputation matters and has mattered since the dawn of our society.  As we move further and further into the digital and information age, online reputation matters more than ever and is becoming increasingly difficult to manage.  In fact, the vast majority of business owners and professionals do nothing to actually manage their online reputation.

While reputation management might sound intimidating, it is simply a marketing approach that can easily become the best friend of an individual, a product, or a business. In short, online reputation management boosts the prominence of “good” information on the web while burying the “bad.”

What is an online reputation and why should it matter to you?

An online reputation is the collective mentions and reviews of you and/or your company brand on the world wide web. It consists of reviews left by customers or other people, mentions of your name or company on other websites or online media sites and any proactive mentions of same by you, your company or reputation management firm you’ve hired to proactively manage your online reputation. Of course it also consists of anything you post about yourself or company in the social media landscape.

Like it or not, you have an online presence in today’s internet world – whether through online directories that have found your business address, reviews, a personal website, professional organization or through something as simple as a social media platform like Facebook you are out there as a ‘brand’.  All of the information you create, articles you write or push, comments that you add to other peoples work, tweets, posts to Facebook, +1s on Google+, Likes, Check-Ins, Reviews by your customers (or worse, your competition) are catalogued, indexed and available for anyone to view.

Just like any other brand or company, you must manage your personal brand in order to ensure that the information you post or information that is posted about you isn’t costing you money, or worse, destroying your reputation. Having negative information online can cost you sales, a job, promotion, a deal, or even a friendship. Any common-sense person knows that people pretty much believe what they read.

According to this great Infographic, 56% of adults don’t think about the consequences of what they are posting online.  That is a scary statistic given the fact that 78% of recruiters check search engines before hiring an employee.  That is almost four out of five recruiters.  Information on the internet does not degrade over time and disappear.  That information is indexed by the search engines, indelible and will never go away.  These recruiters, and anyone else with a computer, have access to EVERYTHING you have ever posted and EVERYTHING that has ever been posted about you by others.

Does it really matter? The answer is a resounding YES.

*Data from a Microsoft Study released 2012

  • 14% of adults surveyed have experienced negative consequences due to online activities of others
  • 21% were fired from a job
  • 16% missed out on getting a new job
  • 14% missed out on getting accepted to a college they applied to
  • 16% lost their health insurance
  • 15% were turned down for a mortgage

 

What this means for CEO’s, business professionals and business owners

In this highly social, digitally connected age the lines have gotten blurry between who you are personally and who you are professionally.   This is a very important concept to understand because as a business professional you make your living based on building positive relationships.   Negative comments about you online create a clear perception that you cannot be trusted; they can make you look unprofessional and can instantly tear down the good reputation that took so long to develop.

Further, and even more important, just a few negative reviews about you can have dramatic effects on the cost of Professional Liability, Malpractice and/or E&O Insurance. Negative reviews could potentially cost you your license if a complaint is filed against you as well if the investigating committee finds a slew of scathing reviews about you and/or your business. These are things that you cannot mess around with. You MUST handle these issues now and, going forward, have a reputation manager as part of your professional team.

[kc_background_pac_1_background_2][kc_background_pac_1_heading_2]Warning[/kc_background_pac_1_heading_2][kc_background_pac_1_sub_heading_2]Your Bottom Line is Affected by Reviews![/kc_background_pac_1_sub_heading_2][/kc_background_pac_1_background_2]

Consider these stats…

  • 80% of all consumers surveyed stated that negative online reviews made them change their mind on their buying decisions!
  • 87% of consumers say positive reviews online reinforced their decision to purchase a product or service recommended to them.  

Once a negative review is out there it is there to stay save for an extremely rare instance where one of the review directories will take it down but that is extremely rare and I would never count on that happening.  Those reviews will hurt your business if you do not manage this proactively. You cannot hide from these reviews.

92% of buyers check online reviews before they make a purchase.  

What do you want them to see?  If they see a list of mostly, if not all, negative reviews and you have not responded to those reviews and solved those issues your potential customer will see you as untrustworthy and choose to buy from someone else. The statistics are emphatic about this.  It is also a fact that Google is now penalizing businesses in the local search rankings for negative reviews that have not been responded to and rewarding businesses who have more positive reviews than the competition.

Even more challenging is managing your online reputation for if your personal persona is also your business persona.  These are folks such as doctors, lawyers, dentists, consultants etc.  Your businesses rely more strongly on relationships and trust than most.  If your personal reputation online is less than professional, your potential customers will choose someone else. Period. Professionals like these simply cannot afford to NOT actively manage their online reputation and ensure that their customer experience is carefully crafted and by design, not by accident. This includes ensuring your employees are specifically trained to deliver a great experience.

This is becoming more imperative with the introduction of Google+ Local.  Google purchased an online review company called Zagat last year and they are now including reviews and scores in search results for doctors, lawyers, brands, stores and restaurants.  We as humans trust what others say about brands and people a lot more than what websites say about brands and people.

I have personally witnessed many negative reviews where it was clear and apparent that the reviewer was still at the business location while leaving a scathing review of that business. With the advent of internet-enabled smartphones and tablets, consumers are empowered to leave reviews on the spot while in the midst of their “customer experience.”

These reviews will have an impact on your business whether you like it or not.  Now is the time to see just what is being said about your personal brand or your organization so that you can create the right kind of reputation management strategy.

So what is Online Reputation Management?

Online reputation management (ORM) is the act of monitoring, addressing or mitigating SERPs (search engine result pages) or mentions in online media and Web sphere content. ORM primarily involves tracking what is written about a client on the Internet, then utilizing sophisticated online and offline techniques in promoting positive and neutral content, while at the same time pushing down those links the sponsor (in most cases business or individuals) may not want to show when their name is searched.

Rather than working to raise link results with a particular search term in order to (ostensibly) generate more commerce or page views, the goal of ORM is to push already highly-ranked negative posts off the results pages so that they are seen by fewer people, thus creating a more positive results environment for the sponsor of the effort. ORM is the specialization in prevention and repair of online reputation threats, and has less to do with directly promoting businesses.

The term arose from recognition of the importance that influencing how someone or something is perceived based on an internet search is critical to a business and it’s long-term sustainability. As the amount of user-generated content on the internet grew, it began to affect internet search results more meaningfully, and the desire to change those results naturally followed.

Reputation management services also include consulting around the implementation of a system to regularly and proactively survey your customers to elicit their “review” of your business and encouraging or incentivizing them to take actions to leave these reviews online thus developing a positive reputation by design rather than leaving things to chance.

At Think Big Enterprises, Reputation Management is one of our areas of expertise and we have very specific solutions to help businesses with online review management along with offline or community-level reputation matters.

If you are a business that is dealing with negative reviews about your business online, call us now at 813-438-2428 to discuss how we can help!

 

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Author: Lane A. Houk
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