Managing Your Reputation Online


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Last Thursday I published an article titled Having an Opinion: The Secret Sauce for a Popular Blog. Today I want to talk about the other side of that coin.

As we discussed in that previous article, expressing one’s opinion clearly and strongly can be the secret to generating a lot of buzz and traffic. As you also know, on the Internet pretty much anyone can setup a website and publish his own content in a matter of minutes.

Put together those two ingredients and the result could be someone doing a lot of damage to your online reputation. In order words, the easier for people to express their opinions and to share those with a large number of people, the higher the important of managing your reputation online, and this point is valid for pretty much anyone using the web, from business entities to bloggers and individuals.

Not convinced this is important? Suppose you have just published an ebook or released a web service. After a couple of days one client gets really upset about the quality offered, and decides to write a chaotic review about it. Should some people link to his review, there is a great chance that his post will show up in the first page of Google for the name of your ebook or service, and now the damage is done. Potential clients that end up reading that bad review will stay clear from purchasing your product.

OK, how do I manage my online reputation though?

So how do you manage your online reputation? The most obvious way is to search on Google for your name, website name or product name frequently, making sure that nothing undesired is showing up there. You could also use online tools like Google Alerts to automate this process.

Sometime ago I also came across a related article from Andy Beal on Mashable titled “Ten Tactics That Could Save Your Online Reputation. Here are the final two points, which I think are particularly important:

9. Ostriches are not great role-models

If you find yourself facing a stampede of angry bloggers, with the mission of calling you out on your company’s foul, sticking your head in the sand does not make them go away. You might initially convince yourself that the problem will simply disappear and besides, what harm can a blogger do anyway? In all likelihood your denial will buy you just a day or two before your scandal makes it to the inbox of a New York Times journalist. Game over.

Instead, the moment you see any reputation attack you should take action. It might only need a comment from you in the blogger’s comments section, or it might require your own blog post or video, announcing what steps you’re taking to resolve the issue. The key is to respond quickly, address the situation, apologize if needed, and prevent it becoming the lead story in the evening news.

10. Three words to remember

I’ve written thousands of words on the topic of building a great online reputation, but I’ve managed to condense everything down to just three words for you to remember: sincerity, transparency, and consistency.

Sincerity means wanting to hear from your customers and the desire to truly provide a positive experience with your company. Transparency involves tearing down the walls of corporate rhetoric and PR spin—the more you share with your customers the more you’ll win their trust. Consistency is a vital component for any reputation management efforts. Your customers will forgive your isolated failure, but if you’re not consistently living-up to your brand promise, they’ll find a company that does.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know how important I think it is to be honest and 100% transparent, both online and offline.

Andy is also the author of Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online. If your business is highly connected with the web it could be a good idea to read it (it is on my wish list on Amazon already). By the way this is not an affiliate link, I am recommending the book because I actually know the quality of Andy’s work.

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7 Responses to “Managing Your Reputation Online”

  • medyum

    Yes, it’s true. I visited Andy Beal’s blog before and found this article.

    Really. His points are valid and clear.

  • Peter

    I think the smart small business owners will realize that they are being judged by consumers just as closely on HOW they respond to negative reviews, as on the negative review itself. They definitely should not go off half-cocked and berate consumers or something just as silly. Also check out AirCheese. Its really good tool for ORM. Its beta version is available for free.

  • fitzheim

    Yes, it’s true. I visited Andy Beal’s blog before and found this article.

    Really. His points are valid and clear.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Mo Morrissey, yeah you will find all sorts of things after a while.

    @What Sells Online, I do believe that if you are 100% transparent and honest you will have very few troubles down the road, but it never huts to make sure that is the way things are going.

    I will check your post.

  • What Sells Online!

    Good points for any online marketer to be prepared with. While everyone strives to deliver quality of our products and services, it’s also a fact that we sometimes stumble. In this case, we are at the mercy of a handful of people who are truly vocal about their dissatisfaction.

    But if we deliver what we promise most of the times, it would seem quite unfair that our reputations are tarnished by those 1- 2% of times when we fail to meet expectations. After all, no one, and no company for that matter, is perfect.

    At the end of the day, I believe that being sincere in our promises as an Online Marketer does help in gearing us for success in the future. If our customers realize that we are willing to improve ourselves, and that we place importance to each and every one of our buyers, we stand a great chance for long term business continuity.

    Perhaps my latest post – Forced Continuity and Delivering an Honest Sales Pitch – is an extension to this thought.

    Cheers, Samantha

  • Mo Morrissey

    Very solid advice. I have a Google alert on my name to let me know if there’s anything I should know – so far I’ve found one site reprinting articles without permission (they should have just asked…instead they failed to respond to several communications), but mostly what I get is information on the Smiths. 🙂

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Paolo, I never played that much with Yahoo pipes myself, but I know many people that find it pretty useful.

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