5 Easy Steps Toward Protecting your Online Business

As online reputation management evolves as a necessity for companies doing business on the web, taking proactive measures can keep you ahead of the curve while keeping negative content at bay.

Here are 5 steps to protecting your business’ brands online:

  1. It’s likely that you’ll be seen first online which equates to making a good first impressions. Take look on a regular basis so that you can see what people searching for your products/services see. If there is room for improvement, start making changes as soon as possible. Changes can include joining social networks, doing press releases, writing articles, and posting blogs.
  2. Know your audience – Understanding your target visitor will give you insight into how they’re searching for you and what they experience during that search. Make further improvements as you move through the process as seen by your audience. This activity helps protect and build your brand while also increasing sales.
  3. Push negative search results off of the front pages of the search engines – Negative search results, especially if there are a few of them, can cause severe damage to your brand and your bottom line. Pushing content past page three in search results will keep it out of the view of 99% of searches. Create search engine optimized content to start occupying the top rankings and the negative content will begin a downward drift. The further down it goes the less chance it has of being seen by your potential customers.
  4. Set alerts to track what is being posted about your company – Free tools abound here, with one of the easiest ones being Google Alerts. The service alerts you whenever the search terms you have selected are indexed by Google. This is a great way to stay on top of news stories, comments, blogs, and articles.
  5. Develop a social media presence – Social media sites offer countless ways to participate with your audience, post content, and get featured for results when a web search is performed.

These steps can help you to proactively protect and build your brand. For more on managing your company’s online reputation, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Protecting and Repairing Your Online Reputation – Reputation Management

There are basically two aspects of online reputation management; protection and repair. Ask anybody that has been in repair mode and they’ll tell you they should have invested way more in the protection aspect than they did. Monitoring is the first step toward protecting your online reputation but there is always more that can be done.

Protection measures:

  • Beyond listening to what is being said, assess what you have put out on the web yourself. People hurt their own reputations all the time with what seems like innocent pictures, stories, comments, etc. Just remember that in the eyes of a stranger you are who Google says you are. Whether that stranger is a potential investor, business partner, etc., starting off in hole because of something you posted can and should be avoided if at all possible.
  • Publish content on your area of expertise. It’s easy and will likely rank on the search engines when people search for your name. A blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, and a LinkedIn profile is a good start.
  • Keep your personal information to a minimum. You’re not going to gain much by going full disclosure but the information can come back at you so don’t volunteer more than is necessary.

 

Repair measures:

  • The same type content you would publish in protection mode can work to push the rankings negative content back off of the front pages. Publish regularly and keep your content meaningful and positive.
  • If you screwed up and yelled at a customer or something like that, just say you’re sorry. Don’t try to push your side of the story, it will just extend the battle. An apology is one of the fastest ways to end problem situation.
  • If there is negative content that people are going to see, be upfront about it. This gives you a degree of control by getting your account out first while being honest about the issue.

Keep in mind that attacks on people’s reputations were going on long before Google came on the scene. The same things that worked then, like honesty, humility, self-respect and common sense work online as well. For more information on managing your reputation, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Online Reputation Management – When Doing Nothing is the Best Thing To Do

When companies initiate social media monitoring, it can often be both exciting and overwhelming. Real-time alerts fill your inbox with mentions ranging from positive to negative to incoherent. There can be a big temptation to try to respond to each one thanking the positives and defending against the negatives. It’s natural response, especially for people who are passionate about their businesses.

The primary benefit of social media monitoring is that it allows for awareness, listening, and participation in conversations where appropriate. The problem is that doing nothing is often the hardest thing to do. Think of real life situations where you might hear people discussing how great your company’s new product is. Jumping into a conversation like this would naturally be tempting but your entrance into the chat could turn it into an awkward moment and take the air out of the balloon. The same thing can happen in a thread on a social media site. Besides, people being positive are already doing lots of good for you on their own without your help.

If you can’t add value don’t say anything, and if you’re not going to diffuse a negative situation stay away.

Generally speaking, a company should be very careful about participating in online conversations. There are, however, three situations where the conversation should be joined:

  • When a customer service complaint is being expressed – Stepping in here makes sense as you can direct the person to where they can get support and get their issues handled.
  • When comments being posted about your company, products, etc. are either incorrect or false – Here, you can guide the conversation back toward reality, answer questions, and provide information.
  • When it appears that a negative conversation is building momentum.

Having a process in place to handle common complaints is a great start and can help to define proper actions or non-actions quickly. While it’s true that negative issues aren’t going to go away on their own there are circumstances where not fanning the flames is the best decision. For more information on interacting on social media sites and how it can benefit your reputation management, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Metrics to Measure Your Online Reputation – Reputation Management

In many ways, a company’s reputation management is the post-purchase equivalent of what branding is to pre-purchase. While a company can market their way to branding objectives, a reputation has to be earned. As branding carries less cachet in the online world, building a solid reputation should be your long-term priority.

While measuring your company’s online reputation is not an exact science, there are a few metrics which can help you determine where you stand in the public eye.

  • Google’s PageRank – This platform calculates the value of inbound links originating from authority sites, which stands as a measure of your reputation from these respected sites. This is a much better measurement than counting total inbound links which may not carry any implied trust.
  • Facebook fans – When people affiliate themselves as fans of organizations, their news feed displays their “is a fan of” status to their peers. While many companies give small incentives for becoming a fan, this measure can still stand up as a measure of a company’s online reputation.
  • Twitter follower numbers - Twitter follower numbers can be gamed but if you’re not manipulating your follower numbers they should be a fairly accurate representation of your online reputation.
  • RSS feeds – These are a useful measure of an online reputation due to the fact that recipients must opt-in to receive them. Additionally, an opt-in must be have some trust that they’re going to get quality content and aren’t going to get bombed with spam. The opt-in nature of the feeds also means that the numbers are difficult to manipulate, making them a solid metric.
  • Repeat visitors to the site – Having been there previously, repeat visitors are an indication that their experience was positive the last time they visited the site. As your website’s reputation improves, it should naturally draw an increasing amount of repeat visitors.
  • Bookmarks – Web users will bookmark resources that provide value so the number of them is a good indicator of trust. The rise of public social bookmarking services has made it easier than ever to track this metric.

Effectively Overcoming a Negative Online Reputation Crisis – Reputation Management

When a negative online reputation crisis hits, the key is to act efficiently and effectively. Here’s how your company can overcome an attack its reputation.

  • If you don’t have a crisis plan in place already, develop one asap. The longer it takes for you to respond, the more extensive the damage will probably be.
  • When an internet based reputation crisis hits, evaluate the gravity of the attack scenario by determining the degree of the credibility of the published material. A credible attack will be handled differently than one that is not based in reality.
  • Get ready to start publishing content for distribution across the web. This will ultimately play a significant role in getting negative content off of the front pages of the search engines.
  • If the attacker is anonymous or using a fake handle, try to find the identity of the person and attempt to determine his standing. If it’s a competitive strike your response will be different than if it is a legitimate complaint.
  • If the complaint is legit and apologies are in order, have them come from top management. The problem will be resolved significantly faster in this way.
  • If your side has taken actions to correct the situation, then your customers should know about it. Corrective actions will go a long way toward rebuilding customer confidence. Also, the thread will be left incomplete if you don’t reply and provide some sort of accounting of how the problem was fixed.
  • Don’t hesitate to hire professional support from a solid online reputation management company to push negative feedback from the top positions of the search result pages. The upside of this is that the negative content will be replaced by positive content that you control.

Effectively overcoming a negative online reputation crisis can be done as long as actions are put into place quickly and efficiently. Hiring professional assistance from an online reputation management firm may be advisable especially if the attack is determined to be coming from a corporate competitor. For more information, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Commonly Missed Opportunities in Reputation Management

Rather than being only a defensive tactic, reputation management provides many opportunities which are often missed by companies. Missing these opportunities can either lead to mediocre results or costly mistakes. Here are some of the biggest misses in reputation management:

  • Not listening to the conversations happening online – Your customers are talking about an infinite number of topics which can give you insight on new ideas, positive and negative feedback, complaints and more. Better still, these conversations provide extremely valuable information on what makes them tick, hot button issues, and how to better provide solutions for them.
  • Not creating a consistent stream of quality content – Creating content on a consistent basis and optimizing for the search terms which drive the most traffic to your website may be an aspect of reputation management but it’s also a great marketing strategy. Unlike an SEO campaign which would typically strive for one top spot on the search engine results pages, the objective for a reputation management campaign would be to occupy as many spots on the front pages as possible. A searcher landing on a results page which is basically owed by pages on your website will see a lot about you and very little of the competition.
  • Missing the opportunity to build community – Your loyal customers are basically your feet on the ground in terms spreading the love for your business. Supporting them by building an interactive community can deepen that loyalty and make your company better by listening to what they want and expect from your business.
  • Not offering solutions to your audience – If you’re not interacting with your audience, you’ll miss opportunities to provide solutions to them. Being seen as a problem solver enhances your image and builds trust.
  • Failing to demonstrate your interactions with your customers – Whether you are handling a complaint or providing valuable information, allowing potential customers to see how you interact with existing customers can win them over. Providing, of course, that you are treating them well.

Reputation management is often perceived as a necessary evil to deal with problems once they arrive. This perception isn’t accurate and allows for the above mentioned opportunities to be missed. For more information on how these opportunities can work for you, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Five Tips for Monitoring Your Online Reputation – Reputation Management

Whether it’s a conversation about a great dinner on Facebook, a Tweet about a video on YouTube, or a review on Citysearch people are talking about almost everything online. The increasing popularity of consumer review sites like CitySearch, Yelp, Google Local, InsiderPages and Merchant Circle have more people than ever before seeking out opinions on these sites to help in making a decision about which product, service, restaurant, or business to spend their hard-earned money on.

Because these reviews are done by third parties they carry a lot of influence, especially when consumers are looking to try something for the first time. These kinds of conversations are occurring at Facebook, Twitter and the other 2.0 sites as well. Because these threads are taking place between members of various peer groups the conversations are regarded as more truthful and relevant than the communications coming directly from a business in the form of marketing and sales materials.

With all that in mind, do you know what’s being said about your business in these online venues? If not, take with these 5 simple tips to start tracking what is being said about your business, your products, and/or your services:

  1. Do a simple search for your company on the first three pages of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. This will give you an idea of what people are seeing when they search for you online. If you see your web assets like the website, the blog, your Facebook profile, etc. you’re probably in good shape for the time being.
  2. Set up “Google Alerts” for your company name, key personnel, and product/service names. This service will alert you when any of these terms shows up on the web.
  3. If your company is a regular topic on social media sites, consider real-time monitoring.
  4. If you find a negative review or feedback, respond in an even-handed manner. If the review is false, you can check into getting the review removed. If you know to complaint to be true, respectfully acknowledge the review and then respond offline.
  5. You can add search results by claiming profiles on social media and review sites. Fill these profiles out as completely as possible.

The power of conversation on the web presents both opportunities and risk. Monitoring these conversations can maximize opportunities and minimize risk. For more information on online reputation management, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Common Mistakes in Reputation Management

When a reputation management crisis is brewing the last thing any business owner wants to do is to make it worse. Unfortunately, hasty decisions and actions which may seem to make sense at the time can do just that.

Here are a few of the common mistakes made when companies receive attacks on their reputation:

  • Ignore the issue – If a complaint is posted, it isn’t going to expire at some given time in the future. In fact, it’s more likely to fester and get worse the longer it is ignored. Keep in mind also that you’re not ignoring one person’s problem in a vacuum. There are potentially thousands of other users who will see your poor treatment of a customer at some time in the future.
  • Winging it when a crisis is looming – Operating without advanced planning means that decisions have to be made under the gun as opposed to being thought out under less stressful circumstances.
  • Denigrating the person making the complaint – User errors happen all the time but it doesn’t necessarily stop people from complaining. Treating these complaints with respect and providing a fix for the problem is a way to build goodwill but it’s still surprising how many companies make the customer feel stupid with condescending replies.
  • Adding fuel to a smoldering fire – There is often a point in the life of a complaint where it’s either going to be solved to everyone’s satisfaction or it’s going to become a PR nightmare. Hitting back at a person voicing a complaint with a nasty response is a sure way to throw gas on an open fire. Remember, you’re trying to make a problem go away efficiently while keeping everyone involved happy. The short period of satisfaction resulting from putting someone in their place will be dwarfed by the ensuing firestorm.
  • Using fake reviews to support your position – Sockpuppeting your way out of a problem isn’t going to work. It’s pretty easy to see through these schemes so once they’re discovered the puppeteer has another issue to deal with.

Successful reputation management requires thoughtful planning and flawless execution to repair a damaging situation as quickly as possible. For more information on the successful implementation of a reputation management campaign, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.

Managing your Reputation before you need Reputation Management

If you’re running an online business it’s going to be next to impossible to control the many ways that your company can come under attack from negative content. Despite all of the variables, there are measures you can take to provide as much protection as possible. Here are some tips on managing your reputation before you need reputation management:

  • Seek transparency – Having lots employees and lots of customers is great but the bigger numbers you have in each of these, the better the chance you have at getting negative content posted. The best way to go here is to assume that there are no secrets and to run your business that way.
  • Let everyone know about your company’s commitment to quality – Providing quality products, service, and a great overall customer experience will build a lot of testimonials which can come in really handy should some negative items come out.
  • SEO like you’re in reputation management mode – Positive content is only going to help so having as much as possible on the web will be beneficial anyway. The more spots your company can occupy at the top of ranking pages for relevant keywords, the harder it will be for negative content to displace them.
  • Monitor and engage in social media – The growth in social media sites requires that you to at least monitor what is being said about your company. lf it’s not good, engage immediately to try to diffuse the problem, remembering your commitment to quality.
  • Have a reputation management strategy ready to go – Having a contingency plan will allow for a faster response should negative content start showing up.
  • Don’t hesitate if you see negative content – The web never forgets, so whatever is out there is going to stay out there. Put your reputation management strategy to work immediately because the longer you wait to counter, the more people are going to see it.

With complaint boards, social media, and a variety of venues to post anything, it’s just about inevitable that every company with an online presence is going to be in a position where they must defend their reputation. Being proactive in managing your reputation and setting up your contingency defense strategy will make for an effective response, should the need arise. For a free evaluation on how well your company is managing its reputation and planning to defend it, visit Reputation Management LLC at: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/.

Ethics and Online Reputation Management

The practice of reputation management has been around as long as there has been public relations companies and the online version been in existence since the advent of search results.

The fact is that if you’re in business long enough with a number of customers, getting someone upset over something is probably inevitable. The risk here for businesses is that an upset customer can now go online and say basically whatever they want in voicing their complaint. Depending on the venue used, that complaint can then be seen by any number of people at the venue and by more if the complaint gets to the front pages of the search engines.

The second risk is that the complaint is going to start costing that company business, especially if others pile on to the original grievance. In a situation like this, the cost to the company can be disproportionally high versus whatever the complaint was about. If the complaint isn’t based in reality it just adds insult to injury.

Under these circumstances, is it ethical to bury the negative content so that searchers don’t see it? Most business owners would say “Absolutely” and be online looking for a reputation management company to take care of the issue.

Where ethics do get brought up regarding reputation management, the issue is often more about the tactics used to achieve the objective than the practice itself. Astroturfing, which creates the perception of a vital grassroots movement (with little support behind it), is one of the tactics that brings the cries of unethical tactics attached to reputation management. Sockpuppeting is similar to Astroturfing but is done on a smaller scale.

Where reputation management as a practice gets called into question is in situations where a company or individual has done something wrong in a big way and then tries to bury it. If the event is caught by the news or is present on sites across the web, even the most expensive reputation management campaign will have a difficult to impossible time accomplishing the objective of burying a massive amount of negative content.

Reputation management protects the brands and business of good companies across a wide spectrum of industries. For more information on protecting your online reputation, visit: http://www.reputationmanagementllc.com/ or call (866) 530 7703.