Have you ever wondered how people see you or your business in the online world? We’re sure you have. If you did, then you might have also asked yourself what can you do to improve the way they perceive you. That is what online reputation management is all about. Remember that the advent of the internet, as well as online democracy and freedom, allow anyone to say anything. Therefore, you must always be on guard.
That being said, let’s start with learning a thing or two about online reputation management itself.
6 Things You Need to Know About Online Reputation Management
#1. There is such a thing as bad publicity, and you should stay away from it
You know the old saying ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity?’ If you do, then stay away from it. The era when any kind of comment made about you or your business could bring you to the attention of the crowds is long gone. Nowadays, if there is something negative online about you, no matter how small, there is a good chance you’re going down as a business.
Restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bakeries, and so on, literally close because of bad online reputation management. Clothing and jewelry stores can lose customers if words get out their products come from countries which use child labor and so on.
#2. Negative online reputation is not the only thing that is holding you back
Continuing what we were detailing above, you might believe that, as long as you stay out of trouble and there is no harmful content posted online about you, then you’re fine. Wrong again. Specialists say that not having an online reputation is just as damaging if not more damaging than having a negative one.
The best part of all consumers in this day and age go online for any kind of information. Therefore, if they cannot find anything about you, good or bad, they are just as likely not to pay you a visit. What does that mean? That they will be taking their valuable business to your competition.
Let your clients know that your company has potential and value.
#3. You cannot get rid of negative content
Let’s put this as simple as possible. Once something finds its way online, then it will stay there forever. There are some exceptions to this idea, of course. If something illegal or litigious gets posted online, then the owners of the big search engines as well as of the websites where that content was posted may agree or be persuaded to delete it. However, it doesn’t happen very often and not when it comes to individuals or small businesses.
Therefore, here is the lesson which you must take from this fact about online reputation management. Let’s say that you own a restaurant and you just got a bad review. In a bout of anger, you go online, to Facebook, Twitter or Yelp and respond in an angry and impolite way to the person who gave you the negative review.
That was a big mistake from your part. Not only will that review stay there forever, but it will also spread like wildfire. Apart from that, it might even be discovered five years later when it will still cause you problems.
#4. Beware of the cyber extortionists who are trying to take advantage of online reputation management
So, we said above that there are some instances in which online content can be erased if legal requirements ask for it. Leaving the details aside, this idea means that content can be erased. Therefore, in the past years, a whole new series of hustlers emerged – the cyber extortionists. In other words, they are people who promise you they will remove negative content about you or your business if you agree to pay them a sum of money.
As a consequence, you need to be alert for this type of people. First of all, there is the danger that they will not delete the undesirable content at all. Second of all, even if they do, they might come back after some time and ask for more money so that they keep said content offline.
#5. The second page of Google
Here is an interesting fact about online reputation management. There’s a famous saying about Google that’s been going around in the past years.
Where can you hide something so that no one will ever, ever find it? On the second page of Google.
It’s a joke, but one with a very profound subtext. It actually means that only the content which makes it to the first page of Google is relevant and noteworthy for most users.
Therefore, if there are any negative comments or reviews about you and your business, and they did not make it to page one of the biggest search engine in the world, you’re pretty much safe from prying eyes.
Please note that we said ‘pretty much safe.’ Evidently, this doesn’t guarantee that people will stop looking for you. They might even get to page ten. However, that seems far-fetched. How many people do you know who would waste that much time as to look for a bakery on ten pages of Google?
The farther the negative review is when it comes to Google results, the safer you are.
#6. Who did you share your secrets with?
This piece of info about online reputation management is just as interesting and intriguing as the last one. Be careful whom you share the details and secrets about your business with. There are many cases and stories out there about people whose company went down after a former spouse, business partner or employee posted negative reviews about them online.
In this sense, the internet is always vicious. Every little mistake that you did, even in an innocent manner, might cost you dearly when it comes to online reputation management if you share it with the wrong crowd.
Just remember that there are some things which deserve to remain your little secret. Exactly what and how much, is your decision, in the end. The important thing is that, when running a business, you do not overshare.
Here are the six most important things you need to know about online reputation management. Apart from these pieces of advice, here is one more, as a bonus. Keep in mind they are talking about you and your business. Clients, customers, partners, employees, both present and former and just about everyone else. And what exactly they are saying about you can make or break your business.
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