Guard Your Online Reputation

  • Share
  • Read Later

Your reputation’s online, even if your business isn’t. Take control of how the online world views your business, and protect your bottom line.

Before the Internet connected the entire world, your business reputation was something that you built, not managed. Fallout from the customer complaints you couldn’t fix was of limited scope. Today, the Internet acts like a lens that magnifies every blemish, perceived insult and mistake—and then broadcasts it with a bullhorn.

Consumers turn to the Web to research practically everything before they buy, and one blistering review on Yelp can go viral and undo everything you’ve worked to achieve. Worse, its affects can haunt your bottom line for years. Managing your reputation is something you can’t afford to ignore.

Consider this. Blogs, forums and anonymous review sites can give consumers a strong voice, which is not a bad thing per se. But they can also attract commenters and reviewers who may be acting at the behest of your competitors. Unless you actively monitor and manage your business reputation, you clear the way for other people to step in and tell the story. And it’s pretty much guaranteed that the story won’t have a happy ending.

In an article on Small Business Computing, Michael Zammuto, president of Brand.com, offers small business owners advice on how to protect their online reputation.

Don’t Ignore the Internet

Online research is king, and small business owners simply don’t recognize its importance. Even a business that has nothing to do with the online world can find its reputation smeared across the Internet. Your business may not rely on the Internet, but your customers—and your competitors—go online. What are they saying about you?

The first step is to do a bit of online research yourself. Google both your name and your company’s name to see what comes up. Chances are you’ll be surprised at the results.

Know What You Can Control

When potential customers ask to know more about your business, it may seem sensible to refer them to online review sites. Don’t do it. Simply stated, you can’t control what people say about you on those sites. “A business will never buy a billboard and let others write on it,” says Zammuto.

A better course of action: focus on improving your ranking in Google search results. Post articles with informative, useful content that helps your customers. Share your expertise and make yourself a trusted resource for your customers. It may take a bit longer, but the results will be worth your effort.

Guard Your Own Reputation

You could pay a reputation management company, or you can save a bunch of money and use free tools and services to help you track your company’s reputation. Google Alerts, TweetBeep, Naymz, Social Mention, and MonitorThis are but a few examples.

If you choose to hire a rreputation management company, avoid any company that creates multiple Twitter accounts and microsites to flood the Web with good feedback and positive content about your company. Google frowns upon those dubious tactics, and you risk a precipitous fall to the bottom of the search results rankings.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of Small Business Computing. Follow Lauren on Twitter.

Adapted from Online Reputation: Top Mistakes Businesses Make, by Pedro Hernandez at Small Business ComputingFollow Small Business Computing on Twitter.

32 comments
cameronlessy
cameronlessy

IT developments are really our future and those companies which don’t understand this will fail. And I think investments in online reputation are needed. But the main issue is about finding financial resources and this http://personalmoneyservice.com/short-term-loans/ serves right for this purpose.

CriticMania
CriticMania

Communication is key! Open lines of communication btw you and the customer. Our service allows customers to anonymously text the manager or facility directly with any problem or comment they may have. Its easy and a real easy channel directly to those in charge when it may sometimes be daunting to go through several others. Check us out: CriticMania or @CriticMania

TamalAnwar
TamalAnwar

An effective strategy for your online reputation can be to separate your work and personal life. You can have a facebook & twitter profile just for friends while your company page for more professional updates. Have google plus and linkedin profile strictly for business needs.

evolved
evolved

Guarding your reputation online is extremely important and it  could mean the difference between winning big opportunities or loosing big opportunities. Great company, excellent information.

CliffS
CliffS

In today's digital age, you are who Google says you are. Brand.com has great programs to help you manage it.

LMB1219
LMB1219

What the internet says about you is what the world bases their opinion of you and your brand on. Never ignore what you can control.

jasonraser5
jasonraser5

Control the controllable, then professionally respond to what you cant.  The more positive out there the harder itll be to find anything negative.

KLShannon13
KLShannon13

You should never ignore the internet. In this day and age you are what Google says you are.

LoganC
LoganC

Finding a reputable company to manage your online reputation is now more important then ever, companies like InternetReputation.com remain a leader in the field of online privacy.  More and more employers are using social media and the Internet to conduct due diligence on potential prospects. 

pbsofficehelp
pbsofficehelp

the point of internet reputation is hit or miss. In today's market it is hard to know what reviews are real or fabricated. Like twitter, companies are able to purchase great reviews and  regulate all negative comments. To that end I don't think businesses pay a lot of attention to reputation, as they are able to make it what they chose by paying for it.


Read more: http://business.time.com/2013/09/25/guard-your-online-reputation/#ixzz2g23d3vSC

pbsofficehelp
pbsofficehelp

the point of internet reputation is hit or miss. In today's market is hard to know what reviews are real or fabricated. Like twitter, companies are able to purchase great reviews and  regulate all negative comments. To that end I don't think business pay a lot of attention to reputation, as they are able to make it what they chose by paying for it.

MattBergey
MattBergey

In 2013 and in the future, your online reputation is going to be a direct reflection on both an individual's and company's success.  They need to keep an eye on this, because something can sneak up at the wrong time and affect a major event.

westmontgomery
westmontgomery

Your reputation’s online, even if your business isn’t.  Major point. It's no use trying to avoid the problem altogether: your online rep is already in place, whether through action or inaction.

Also a frequently-cited but valid point that consumers really do research virtually everything online before they buy. The Internet is a medium that simply can't be justifiably ignored from a business perspective. 

auntcecee
auntcecee

it's true! You can't ignore the internet, it changes every day as can your reputation

ZacLieksMusic
ZacLieksMusic

It's smart to avoid those companies that just make thousands of profiles, it's not helping anybody, Google doesn't even crawl pages with nothing on them. 

mfcavallaro8
mfcavallaro8

Definitely good points are made, especially "Don't ignore the Internet." With Internet being such a huge part of our lives and careers and way of communicating and doing basically everything, it is silly to ignore it.

albrecht.ac
albrecht.ac

Online reputation is such a fascinating emerging industry! It's important that the whole industry is looking more toward quality rather than quantity. Maintaining a positive online presence is so vital in today's business climate, companies really have to be vigilant.

jglauser
jglauser

Other ORM companies aren't getting featured in Time, or can feature their clients in the same high profile outlets. That speaks for itself. 

daniel.jp.connolly
daniel.jp.connolly

I like the closing statement of this post, because it rings very true. It's not about the quantity of links created, it's the quality of links. Engagement is what matters. 

Harrison_Pew
Harrison_Pew

This article just goes to show how important ORM truly is.  There are so many companies out there nowadays who underestimate the value of maintaining their reputation online and how much it can truly affect their success.

kelltaylstone
kelltaylstone

Love the billboard quote - it's on point. You need to be in control

bh716519
bh716519

Seriously though, don't ignore the internet. If you don't monitor your online reputation, you will be doomed.

ert1217
ert1217

Mike Zammuto put it perfectly. "A business will never buy a billboard and let others write on it," so why subject your business to potential reputation damage with online review sites?



jacobhammer00
jacobhammer00

Hahahaha "A business will never buy a billboard and let others write on it." Well said! 

veazeyjl
veazeyjl

Search results and online reputations are everything these days. People will Google something before doing anything. 

BrecksBrooker
BrecksBrooker

this article is right in that you cannot ignore the internet.

Jpileggi2
Jpileggi2

Search results on Google and other search engines are so important for anyone who owns a small business. 

djb51412
djb51412

You're going to see this topic moving to the head of the class for all business Marketing departments.  You are who Google says you are and when it comes to making an impression on the consumer, business partner or even the media.  Be proactive if you aren't under attack already.  

nmel12345
nmel12345

It's incredible how companies like Yelp can profit from one negative review.  You're right - everything is online and everyone is searching for things before they buy/hire/etc!

Gruelingchief
Gruelingchief

My online reputation means everything to me.  I often give tips, much like Michael Zammuto's, on how to improve your online image.  

Brian_Newmark
Brian_Newmark

As an Online Reputation Management expert, I am thrilled to see Time.com addressing how important ORM is for companies.  Often clients don't realize how critical what their page one SERP looks like is to their business.  They invest heavily in their website, but ignore the rest of page one.  

meaningfy
meaningfy

Another free service for brand/news tracking is Meaningfy.com (disclaimer: I'm the CEO).

InternetReputation.com
InternetReputation.com

@BriannaPenna InternetReputation.com offers online reputation management services similar to those provided by Brand.com.  Before hiring a company to manage your online reputation, compare the services and prices of a few reputation management companies, such as InternetReputation.com and Brand.com.