More so than at any time in the past, it has become necessary to be constantly monitoring any commentary about your business, so that you can stay abreast of what customers are saying about you. When that commentary turns negative, it can have some far-reaching effects which can damage your business significantly. Many companies have therefore retained the services of reputation management agencies in an effort to maintain a positive reputation, and in some cases to undo the damage which has already been done.
What is Internet Reputation Management?
Reputation management consists of whatever activities are necessary to control or influence the reputation of a company or an individual. With the tremendous growth of the Internet and social media, it has become extremely important that the reputation of companies or individuals remains positive because negative commentary can spread like wildfire.
When that happens, it’s entirely possible that the subject company or individual can suffer serious damage in terms of business and popularity. Companies have sprung up as a result of the need to manage reputation, and these companies specialize in working on behalf of their clients to manage and influence reputation in a positive way.
It has been said that many years are necessary to establish a solid reputation, but only a few minutes are required to destroy that reputation. This has never been more true than in the present environment, where the Internet and social media provide a vehicle for extremely rapid spread of information, and that includes opinions about companies and individuals.
One major area where a company’s reputation might be damaged is in online reviews of their products and services. Since these reviews are typically consulted by other users before making purchasing decisions, they can be extremely influential in assigning a positive or negative reputation to the company. Unfortunately, criticisms written up in these reviews may or may not even be justified, but such is the power of the Internet that it can still be spread rapidly and be believed by millions of others.
It is known that upwards of 92% of all consumers will consult online reviews prior to making a purchase, and that makes reviews ultra-critical in terms of reputation management. There are steps that any company can take to help keep online reviews positive, but when things get a little out of control, it then becomes necessary to engage the services of a reputation management agency.
How Can Reputation Management Help My Business?
Ever since the arrival of the Internet, online reputation has been a major concern for businesses, and that fact has been emphasized to a much greater extent in recent years as the growing power of online reviews has been felt. A 2018 study which consulted businesses around the world about industry trends, brought this point home in stark terms.
Participants in the survey were almost universal in their assessment of the importance of maintaining a positive reputation online, with 97% stating it was critical to their business. The same respondents were 98% sure that online reviews had a powerful impact on their business, and that these had to be taken seriously. The underlying reason that online reviews have such great power is that virtually all consumers will consult online sources before making any purchasing decisions about a product or service, and one of the sources they would check first is reviews.
One of the ways that online reputation management services can help your company is by conducting a thorough audit of your online reputation. When consumers conduct searches about your company, the ideal scenario would be that they are presented with a current list of positive articles, profiles, and a sparkling website that present your company in an appealing way.
If negative articles appear on that first page of search results, chances are you have already lost a sale. It is known that when just one negative article appears on the first page of search results, there’s a 22% chance that a sale will be lost, and if three negative articles appear on that page, the likelihood soars to 60%. There are other factors that influence your online reputation as well, apart from what customers or users may be saying about you.
When your online presence consists of websites and articles that don’t present a consistent picture of your company, it will quickly confuse users and they will likely abandon you in favor of your competitors. Reputation management services can also review all published content associated with your company to ensure that you’re actually providing value to your customers and potential customers. Content that doesn’t deliver useful information or satisfy the wants or needs of a customer will probably have little or no value.
While that may not damage your reputation, it certainly does no good in terms of enhancing it and increasing your appeal to potential customers. Another way that reputation management services can be helpful to your company is by advising you on how to make positive use of social media. This is one opportunity available to you which can have a tremendous impact on your perception in the user community, and you should take every opportunity to engage with potential customers to present your company in the best light possible.
How Does it Work?
One of the fundamentals of online reputation management in the modern era is being transparent with the user community. This means facing criticism and feedback openly and maintaining a solid line of communication with customers and potential customers. Inviting feedback and criticism is a core practice that will allow you to be proactive in managing any concerns or problems which customers have before they mushroom into something larger.
It’s no longer acceptable to hide criticism and negative commentary because this is exactly the kind of scenario that can get blown out of proportion and damage your reputation significantly. It might be a little risky being this kind of transparent with users, but it’s even more dangerous to not be transparent. However, before embarking on a program of transparency with your customers and potential customers, it will be critical that you have a reputation management plan in place so that you can deal with the likely fallout.
For example, it’s possible that your competitors may take advantage of negative commentary about your company, and attempt to exploit it to their own advantage. It’s also possible that your products and services may come under heavy fire from consumers about some particular aspect, and you’ll need to be ready to handle this scenario. By anticipating all the worst-case possibilities, you can be prepared for what might happen during the era of transparency, so you can meet it head-on, and deflect any damaging issues.
Another important aspect of online reputation management is knowing when and how to react to user comments. In some cases, no reaction at all is the best response, and in other cases, it’s extremely important that you respond immediately before any kind of negative groundswell has a chance to build. This makes it very important that you’re constantly monitoring your online reputation, so you’re aware of both negative and positive comments about your company.
There are plenty of tools that allow you to monitor commentary about your company, and reputation management will always make use of these kinds of tools. Some steps you can take to manage your online reputation apart from those mentioned above, include more aggressive handling of negative commentary.
First of all, by maybe making aggressive use of search engine optimization, you can ensure that your company’s website will appear at the top of search engine results, rather than any negative commentary about your company. In cases where false claims are made about your company, or where the intent is clearly to damage your reputation, you are within your legal rights to have that content removed.
If this is done quickly, it can ward off any of the damaging effects intended by the user. It’s also possible for a reputation management agency to conduct online investigations when there are any serious attacks made on your brand. Cyber investigations are the best approach to get to the bottom of really difficult cases involving reputation management.
If you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed by the effort to manage your online reputation, you might want to consider leaving it in the hands of experienced professionals like those at BizIQ. With years of prior experience in handling the reputation of individuals and companies, we can effectively monitor online commentary, so you’ll always be aware of what’s being said. When negative commentary appears, we can help you manage that, so that it can be converted into a positive situation, and minimize any damage which might occur. Contact us today so we can immediately go to work on your behalf, and maintain your solid reputation online.