Reputation Management – Are You Sure of How Others See You?

reputation managementReputation management is a real concern for business owners today, especially with increased online visibility. It can take years to build your reputation, but only minutes to destroy it. It’s imperative that as a business owner you do what it takes to maintain your good reputation. Thankfully, there are easy ways to ensure that you keep your good reputation online – if you take the time to intentionally focus on it.

Tips for Effective Reputation Management

Sensationalism Rules Online: Take Caution – Being an online business owner and part of the online business community is kind of like being in a reality show in some ways. Sensationalism and gossip seems to be the rule. But, if you realize this going in, you can avoid problems by not gossiping and always staying above the fray. Sometimes reputation management simply means not engaging in those negative conversations. Be honest, be yourself, and always seek to be helpful.

Perception Is Reality – Until someone proves differently online, the perception people have of you is reality. Dr. Phil says this is the truth for everyone, online or not. Reputation management is so important because how people perceive you is what’s real, so try to ensure that it’s as close to reality as possible. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want clients – or your mother – to see.  Chances are, it will give prospects and clients the wrong perception of who you are.

Be Proactive – You can tell your story online by blogging, being part of online groups, and by being the one to tell your story. Tell your story every chance you get. When you are proactive with your story and information, that will be what people find when they search for information.

Manage Security Issues – Set privacy settings on private social media; keep your information close to your vest so that no one can ever break into your private sources of information. This is because it can be used against you in a bad way to make you look bad.

Stay on Top of Branding – The information that you put out about your company as far as branding is important. It’s the information your audience believes about you. Your branding is how your audience feels when they hear about you, and exemplifies what your business stands for.

Establish Expertise – To really manage your online reputation, set out to show that you’re the expert in your niche. Become the “go to” person for that niche in a way that overwhelms the competition and firms up your reputation as a leader.

Maintain Your Integrity – Always be honest. Even if you make a mistake, stand up and admit it, and publicly always seek to show your reliability and that you are who you say you are. Don’t try to hide it or, worse yet, sweep it under the rug.  Nobody’s perfect, so don’t give the false illusion that you are. How you handle your business when mistakes happen can define your public perception. That perception is important.

Nothing Ever Disappears Online – Remember that nothing ever disappears online. You can bury it with good information, but it’s better to accept it if something is there out that you don’t really want out there. Once it’s there work to bury it, but also work to embrace it and turn it into a positive.

Encourage Satisfied Customers to Sing Your Praises – When you have a truly satisfied client, embrace that opportunity to let your clients speak for you. When others can vouch for your integrity, it means something, and testimonials and good reviews are the perfect way to do that. Make it easy for customers to give you a quick review or write a testimonial.  The more convenient you make it, the more likely they will tell the world about how great you are!

The important point about reputation management is to always be the one to tell your story, and keep that story at the forefront of your online persona. In addition, you should seek to be who you really are and not put on a facade.  After all, the truth will always rise to the top and you wouldn’t want to seem as if you’re trying to trick people by not being the real you. Being proactive about both bad and good reviews will pay off – it just takes giving it the attention it needs.

Why Your Online Reputation Matters

online reputationYour online reputation is essentially the same as your offline reputation but, thankfully, using the power of the internet you can discover what your reputation is and work toward making it better. In contrast, it can be very difficult to discover what your offline reputation is. It doesn’t matter what type of business you have these days – it can be online or offline, large or small. You must manage your online reputation.

Eight Reasons Why Your Online Reputation Matters

1. Most People Will “Google You” before Buying

You know you do it, so of course, most others do it too. If you want information on a business or product, you search on Google to see if you can find it. You don’t care if it’s a local business or not – you go to Google, type in the name, and then you read the reviews and other information about that business.

2. People Buy from Those They Trust

Finding good information during the searching process helps build a feeling of trust in your customer. If instead they find bad information, poor ratings, or other things about you or your business that is negative, they may choose a competitor – even if they can’t find information on that competitor. Worse, they might find information about a competitor who is far away and order through the mail.

3. Reputation Builds Brand Awareness

By building an online reputation through the use of social media, websites, blogs, YouTube videos and more, you will build brand awareness. If you do it right, it will build positive brand awareness about yourself and your business. But, if you do it wrong you might inadvertently make yourself look bad. Focus on always being positive and not negative, unless of course that is your personal brand.

4. Good Reputation Gives a Competitive Advantage

The aim is to build such a good reputation that when someone searches for your name, a search term, or your product or industry, you appear in the searches in a healthy way without controversy. In this way, you’ll have an advantage over your competitors who either don’t exist online or have a bad reputation online.

5. Nothing Is a Secret Anymore

One thing you have to accept about our new technological world is that nothing is secret anymore. You cannot be anonymous online if you expect to make an impact with your business. Instead you need to be yourself, out and proud as they say, taking control of your reputation by making an appearance on discussion boards, blogs, podcasts, YouTube videos and more. Even if you have one negative event, you can ensure that the positive outweighs the negative if you make a concerted effort.

6. Customers Care about Your Values

In the old days, everyone cared more about the bottom line than their reputations as employers or corporations. Today, people want to know about your character. If you have poor character, or appear to online, you will lose money because consumers want to buy from people that are upstanding citizens who care about the world.

7. Unscrupulous Competitors May Attempt to Trash You

By keeping an eye on and working to improve your online reputation, when and if a competitor tries to trash you, you’ll be ready. Believe it or not, some very misinformed and bad people will actively seek to trash you online. They’ll hire people to do poor product reviews, or do one themselves, and call you out on things that aren’t true just to make you look bad. How you respond makes all the difference.

8. Every Action You Take for Better or Worse Affects It

One thing you have to know about being online and running an online business is that everything you do will be analyzed and scrutinized by everyone. It’s imperative that before you post that picture of you hanging off the ceiling at that convention that you consider how it will impact your future. Before you spout off to a rude customer on social media, consider how you can turn it around in a way that is positive because even if you’re ultimately right, how you respond matters.

Building and maintaining your online reputation is an important way to build your brand, improve your business, and make a difference. Leave no stone unturned and you won’t be unhappy. If you need help monitoring your reputation online just contact us. We would be happy to setup a system for you or monitor it for you.

Online Reputation – How to Bury Negative Information You Don’t Want Known

online reputationIf you recently Googled yourself and found out that something shows up that you don’t want people to focus on or know about, your online reputation may be in jeopardy, but there are a few steps you can take to bury the information. Depending on how active the people spreading the information are will affect your success, but if you work hard you can bury the negativity.

Here’s how you can improve your online reputation and bury negative information

Set Up Publicly Viewed Profiles on Social Media

The more public profiles and active social media accounts you can maintain that have positive information about you, the lower down the search results you’ll push any negativity. The key here is that each profile must be public, mention your company, your name or both, and the products and services that the negative information is about. If you can identify the keywords that resulted in the negative results, try to include them too.

Engage Publicly on Forums, Articles, Blog Posts, and Social Media

Making positive and helpful comments online in public in your name whenever you can is an important way to negate negative content that is floating around out there about you and your business. Provide well thought-out comments and posts that use good grammar, proper spelling, and that sound intelligent. It will make you look a lot more trustworthy and smarter to the public.

Ensure That All Your Online Real-Estate Connects Together

Within the profile confines, be sure that every one of your social media profiles link to your website and blog and when possible each other. You want a connection to be known so that everyone knows that you are really you. Then be sure to use these accounts to make comments, post useful content, and share important industry news with your followers. Everything you can do on your online accounts to increase activity will help.

Dominate Negative Keywords

By negative keywords we mean the keywords that bring up the negative results that you found. Write blog posts that feature these words, and turn them into a positive. If you found the negative search with specific words, use those specific words in blog posts, videos, and tags for pictures and in titles of blog posts. The more you use it in a positive manner, the lower down the search results the negative issue will be found.

Get Some Help

Have some other people help you conduct searches to help identify more words and negative information. Google often provides results particular to you so it’s important to get others to help. There are firms you can hire, but you can also ask a virtual assistant to do it – as well as close family and friends that you don’t mind knowing about the negative information.

Enlist Friends and Family to Say Good Things

Your friends and family can comment on message boards, blogs, and in social media too. Instruct them to keep everything positive at all times but to casually mention your business in their comments in a positive way can definitely help your online reputation. Plus, ask them to leave positive feedback on rating sites.

Ask Affiliates and Business Partners for Testimonials

You don’t have to tell your affiliates or business partners about the negative search results, but you can increase your efforts asking for positive testimonials from them. Ask for a testimonial on LinkedIn, your website and more. Ask them to write blog posts about you and tell them you’ll write it yourself and they can edit it. Whatever you can do to increase the good words out there about you, the better.

Do More Interviews

Interviews are a great way to get rid of negative search results and bury them under goodness. You can go to your business partners, affiliates and colleagues again to get interviews. If you have a virtual assistant, task them with getting you at least one interview per week to talk about a few different subjects you can let the interviewees choose from. If you don’t have one, then you’ll have to do the leg work yourself, but opening yourself up to interviews will definitely help push down the negativity.

Pushing down negativity and repairing your online reputation may take some time, but it can be done if you put an all-out effort. In fact, shouldn’t you be doing this at all times anyway? If you do, you won’t have to worry that much about one online blunder.

Top Online Reputation Mistakes Made by Business Owners

online reputationMany business owners, small, large, online and offline make mistakes regarding their online reputation. Sometimes it seems so purposeful, such as a politician sending naked pictures of himself to a young co-ed. Other times, it’s just accidental such as when a bad joke goes wrong, or you got into an online flame war with a customer. But, all of these things can be monitored and controlled if you understand what a mistake they are.

Before we go over the top online reputation mistakes made by business owners, here is a great quote:

“Begin somewhere. You cannot build a reputation on what you intend to do.” Liz Smith

Top Online Reputation Mistakes to Avoid

Revealing Personal Information of a Client – You might mean well by talking about a specific client, but the best thing you can do is ask for written permission before discussing a client’s personal details in any form. Some people don’t like it when you talk about them and they can tell it’s them. If they can tell, they will worry that someone else can tell.

Calling Out Others in a Bullying Way – It’s one thing to give an honest review of someone’s work, but yet another to seek to ruin their business entirely. If you want a really good example of this, look up on YouTube “Freely & Harley Law Suit” and watch the flaming ruin of several fitness business owners in a public nightmare that involves the Supreme Court of Australia.

Posting Images of Your Drunk Night Out – OK so your youngest daughter got married, your oldest had a baby, and your best friend turned 60 all in one day. But, no one needs to see you drunk and partying in public. While your family and friends will love it, some business partners will question your judgement. Some people might not buy from you.

Choosing Weird Cute Names for Social Media Profiles – The truth is, unless you give your social media profile the name of your niche or product, using your own name is a good idea. Don’t use something personal because you want to represent your business as a moral and honest company that’s open about who you are.

Telling Lies – Believe it or not, more than one business owner has been caught in a bald-faced lie online which ruined their entire business. If you don’t make six figures and you’re not a million-dollar blogger, then don’t imply or say you are. The online world is small in many ways and it will come out, sooner or later.

Stealing Other People’s Content – This is an easy one to detect, but there have been cases of people stealing other people’s hard work, information products, images and so forth and then joining the real producer’s Facebook group and trying to promote their products there. Yes, they were humiliated and caught and ruined within minutes. Don’t steal.

Ignoring or Blocking Complaints – It’s a big mistake to ignore or block complaints. Your clients and future clients are watching how you will deal with a complaint, and how you deal with it will either help you or hurt you. Answer them quickly and always try to provide to your client a solution to their problem.

Not Opening Comments on Blogs – Keep your blog posts open for comments because having them closed may seem as if you don’t like disagreements or differing opinions. A blog is social due to the comments; without the comments it’s just useless content.

Finally, it’s important to never behave in an angry and defensive manner – no matter whether you are in the right or not. This is a huge mistake that will backfire. Always be humble, generous, honest and kind, and your online reputation will be very shiny..