The only reputation management strategy needed by business owners 20 years ago involved the production of quality products and services that satisfied the needs of their clients. However, as search engines began to gain traction in the late ‘90s and review sites like Yelp became increasingly popular after their rise in the early 2000s, business operations began to bow to these modern technologies and the new frontier they created.
Today, no business can achieve financial success and recognition in a competitive market without establishing a positive online reputation. The practice of curating a positive online presence continues to grow as the Internet broadens in popularity as a consumer resource. While some businesspeople can maintain a strong online reputation through simple management practices, others have the following four common misconceptions about online reputation management:
If my business doesn’t have a presence on the Internet, online reputation management won’t affect me.
People frequently make the mistake of thinking that online reputation management is not necessary for their company because it does not have an established Internet presence. Unfortunately, this kind of attitude toward online reputation management can be a big mistake.
When a company fails to curate its online image, it can signal to potential customers or business partners that the firm is not current or operating in a way that signals future failure if they cannot remain up-to-date on technological trends. It also may denote laziness or an unwillingness to put forth the extra effort needed in order to provide customers with the best experience possible.
Additionally, businesses that do not have an online presence often neglect to monitor the conversation that customers are having about them on review sites. When a business does not have a voice on review sites, the conversation about it goes unregulated and can lead to a significant decline in sales and client numbers.
It is best to ignore any negative comments made about my company online.
Customer reviews are one of the strongest components of your business’ online reputation. As of 2014, 88 percent of people surveyed in one study indicated that they trusted the reviews of strangers online as much as they would trust a review from a friend or family member. Reviews on a Google Plus or Yelp page increasingly hold more weight. As a result, a company’s silence when negative reviews surface can be very damaging.
By electing not to respond to negative customer comments online, business owners lose the opportunity to show other potential customers reading the reviews that — while the service may not be flawless — they are committed to providing a high degree of customer service. Instead of letting the bad reviews stand, business owners can improve their reputation by offering a professional, informed reply to the grievances. If the reply is handled properly, you may even earn a retraction of the negative comment from the customer.
My company’s online reputation is not negative, so I do not need to work on it.
When a business owner Googles the company name to get an idea of what its online reputation looks like, he or she might come across a collection of neutral links or reviews that represent basic information about the company and may find no negative content available. The common mistake that business owners make in this situation is in leaving the company’s neutral online reputation intact, instead of using it as a starting point to build a strong Internet presence.
It is much easier to curate and maintain an image that shows your company in a positive light through a dedicated online reputation management strategy than it is to receive an influx of negative reviews and then try to repair the damage. Company owners never really know when negative reviews or unfortunate circumstances may cause their business to lose esteem, and engaging with reputation management services when circumstances are good can help to ward off negativity in the future.
Employees’ personal actions on the Internet cannot affect my business’ online reputation.
One aspect of online reputation management that is often overlooked is the potential for employees’ online behavior to affect the way that the company is perceived by its customers. A business cannot control how its employees conduct themselves on social media, but it can set guidelines within its policies that establish what company information employees can and cannot reveal online.
Companies that do not pay attention to what their staff posts online can end up with serious damage to their online reputation. Businesses that want to avoid this kind of damage to their reputation should consider implementing policies that dissuade employees from complaining about the company online, sharing sensitive information about clients, or creating an online image that blends their personal and professional lives.