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Is Your Online Reputation Being Left to Chance?

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Photo Credit: relamark.com

Business owners can usually tell when something is wrong.

Among the telltale signs is a drop off in business, employees suffering from low morale, and the competition growing by leaps and bounds.

So, do you ever stop and wonder if business owners care about their online reputations? Should they care about them to the extent that they focus regularly on them, or should they just do so every now and then?

As some who run companies have seen over the years, a damaged online reputation can lead to the above-mentioned signs of trouble at work, none of which a business owner wants to stomach.

In a day and age when online information travels in just seconds, it behooves those running businesses to check on their online reputations from time to time, making sure there are no skeletons in the closet to potentially bring their companies screeching to a halt.

Some of the ways to maintain a solid online reputation include:

1. Check your online footprints

Whether you go online to use social media, post videos and podcasts about your business, shop for goods and services to improve your own business or network with others, it is a good idea to trace your steps. Have you gotten into an online disagreement with a customer? Have you posted a comment or image that would be offensive to some? Have you had a verbal disagreement with a
competitor online at some point and time? All of these scenarios can lead to a damaged
online reputation–something that can sidetrack your business.

2. Be social and professional

As more and more companies delve into social media, it is important that they do so in a professional manner, especially with all the eyes that are watching. In the event a customer posts something controversial regarding their experience with your company, respond promptly and professionally. If the conversation becomes contentious, take it offline immediately. Also make sure that any of your employees authorized to speak on behalf of the company on social media follow the rules and regulations in place. Since they are representing your company, they are an extension of you. Should they post questionable remarks or images, it could look bad for the entire business.

3. Don’t bite off more than you can chew

As a business owner, customers expect nothing short of excellent service and quality products, not to mention deals and specials. Yes, it is at times a lot to deliver, but it is part of running your own company. Your online reputation can take a hit if you do not deliver on your word. Set realistic
expectations as to what you can and can’t deliver, this while always thinking about how
you can grow your business without compromising its integrity.

4. Don’t assume

Finally, never assume that your online reputation is spotless. Doing a Google search from time to time offers you the opportunity to see if private and/or damaging data is floating around about you and/or your business. While certain information ultimately becomes public record, you don’t need a messy divorce or legal battle you had with a customer coming to the top of search engines when people research your business. If such a scenario is happening, promote the good things about your business so that they work their way to the top of the search engines. If need be, look to a company that provides reputation management services to assist you in cleaning up your online reputation.

If you have been leaving your online reputation to chance up to this point, make 2013 the year you take control of it.


Feedback

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  • Beth Hewitt

    Hi Dave,

    I was reading this, I was wondering if some business owners are a little but head in the sand about what people might be saying about them online. I think it’s important to know what is happening, not so you can get all defensive but so you can actually see what people in your niche are talking about, what problems they have and how you can out it right.

    Thanks for sharing, I thought this was really informative.

    Beth 🙂

  • Linda Sherman

    I get the online reputation management calls when they are an emergency. Suddenly a business owner has become aware of something on line about themselves that they have never seen before.

    Those most in danger are those avoiding the internet as much as possible. Without being monitored, their personal or business name is still showing up online.

    The first question from an emergency call is always, can we get that removed from the internet? The answer is almost always no. The only solution is to push it down out of easy sight with lots of content. Starting from zero makes it harder.

    Important topic Dave. Hiding and hoping is never a solution. Manage your online reputation.

  • dave

    Beth/Linda,

    Thank you for reading. No doubt too many business owners are late to the call when it comes to checking on their online reputations. Like was stated, they are oftentimes reactive instead of proactive. The worst thing that can get in the mind of the customer is questioning the reputation of someone you are doing business with. Hope this piece helps some business owners focus in a little more on preventing and not reacting to problems down the road.

  • Mammoth

    Hi,
    Great article, thanks. But I always though “not saying sorry” can spoil an online reputation more than anything.
    By the way, can I ask you if you use some tool to monitor your reputation? For example, I use http://www.strategator.com (and can’t imagine someone can run a business without such thing), but maybe you have some special tips?

    Thanks

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