Reputation Management for 2017

Every year, reputation management becomes an even more important part of building a successful business. In 2017, it’s almost impossible to attract clients without an online presence, and entrepreneurs who fail to take control of their company’s reputation early will find themselves at a disadvantage.

Reputation Matters

People are expressing themselves more than ever on the internet and they’re also increasingly turning to other people’s comments to decide if a product or service is worth buying. 64 percent of marketing executives worldwide say “word of mouth” advertising is more important than other forms of marketing. On a personal level, we’re often taught not to worry too much about what others think of us, but what people say about your business will have real consequences when it comes to revenue. Company leaders can’t afford to not pay attention or to not care. They must take an active role in promoting the company through all internet platforms.

5 Reputation Management Questions to Ask in 2017

At ReputationDefender, we assist businesses with building or maintaining their online reputation. Reputation management is a growing field that changes regularly as search engine algorithms are updated and SEO techniques evolve. Yet there are some basic elements that every entrepreneur should consider if they want their company to keep expanding in 2017.

Here are five basic reputation management questions, as well as some of the ways companies can answer them:

  • What are people saying about my business? – There’s a lot of negativity on the internet. People are comfortable saying things online that they wouldn’t say in person, and sometimes this manifests as unreasonable rants about businesses or services they feel have let them down. As a business owner, it’s easier and more comfortable to just avoid reading these comments, especially since they tend to detract from our confidence in the company. Unfortunately, the last customer’s rant may be the first thing the next person researching your business sees. If you can’t delete the comment, you can at least respond politely and appropriately, so that it will be obvious you’re not the party being unreasonable. Sometimes customers also complain about real issues, so it’s crucial to take comments as constructive criticism and use them to improve.
    1. Google Alerts – A Google Alert for your name, the brand’s name and any related keywords will let you know any time someone leaves a comment on the website or another review site. This will allow you to respond appropriately.
    2. Social Media – Unfortunately, Google doesn’t index social media pages so if someone rants about your company on Instagram or Facebook it won’t be picked up by a Google alert. There are lots of social media listening tools, like Geopiq for Instagram, Reddit Keyword Monitor Pro, Hootsuite and Reputology, just to name are few. Some are free, while others come with a minimal cost. Of course you still won’t be able to respond to a private social media post, but the more tools you have at your disposal, the better the chances of catching a bad comment or review before it does too much damage.
  • What are people saying about competitors? – Don’t feel guilty about eaves-dropping on your competitors. The internet is a public place, so the information is available to everyone, just as your reputation is available to competitors. If online reviews give your top competitor four stars and they only give you three, which business will the next client choose? Probably not yours, unless there are some other mitigating factors. It’s as important to follow competitor’s reviews and comments as your own, so you can see what appeals to customers and work on imitating it. Give customers a reason to pick you over your competitor, whether it’s a different service, a better price, or just higher quality.
  • Is your website attracting clients? – The official company website is the key to attracting clients. It needs to be professional, informational and easy to navigate. It also needs to be optimized to appear at the top of the search result page for your brand. Most website platforms will offer tools to analyze traffic and let you know whether you’re attracting clients who spend time reading material. If the results are unsatisfactory, consider getting a professional SEO audit to figure out what isn’t working and improve on it.
  • What is not managing your reputation costing you? – Many entrepreneurs think that reputation management costs too much or takes too much time. However, once damaging material appears online, it could reduce profits almost immediately, especially if there isn’t already positive material ranking right alongside the negative reviews. The time and money it takes to build a positive reputation is much less than the cost of trying to fix a damaged reputation after the fact.
  • Do I need a professional reputation management service? – This question has to be answered individually for each company. Large companies may hire their own reputation management team as a division of online marketing. Small or midsize companies should consider working with a professional service unless one of the founders already has experience with reputation management or SEO. Many entrepreneurs may feel they can go it alone to start with, but reputation management can be very time consuming and as the company grows there will quickly be too much to do. Working with professionals from the start will help to give the company the best chance of success.

For more information or answers to further reputation management questions, contact our experts at ReputationDefender.

Online Reputation Management for tobacco companies: A social crime?

Do I have flexible morals?”                                                                                                       Let’s say you became a lawyer and you were asked to defend a murderer. Worse than that, a child murderer. Now, the law states that every person deserves a fair trial, would you defend him?”                                                                                                  I don’t know, I guess every person deserves a fair defense.”                              Yeah, well, so do multinational corporations.”

O.Sacks, D. (producer), Reitman, J. (director). 2006. US.                       Thank you for smoking.                                                                                         Room 9 Entertainment                                                                           ContentFilm

According to PRNewswire (although is not the only source that says so), “Only government and tobacco have worse industry reputations than financial services.” It is no secret that the tobacco industry has one of the worst reputations in the market, and this is mainly because of the aggressive campaigns that have been promoted around the world in defense of the health of citizens, some of them even based on inaccurate information. Every time, smoke-free zones get wider, to the point that smoking is a factually impossible activity in some places. To this extent, improving the online reputation of this industry is considered an offensive matter, mostly seen as unethical, almost as much as the fair defense that even a serial killer of children deserves in a democratic society. The question is whether it is justifiable to manage the online reputation of the tobacco industry… and the answer of this article is yes.

While they were not the first to ban it, some of the most famous anti-tobacco laws were those that operated in Nazi Germany. In fact, the term “passive smoking” was coined at that place and time. Hitler wanted to protect the Aryan race from the evils of tobacco, according to him, “the wrath of the Red Man against the white.” For this reason, even several smokers were executed during the Nazi dictatorship. The Nazis were not the only ones to be so strict when it comes to forbidding smoking: the Soviets, Mao’s China, and, of course, the United States of America. The reasons have always been the same: the direct relationship with various types of cancer and respiratory diseases, as well as the pollution and the eventual degeneration of embryos during pregnancy.

Apparently, a plenty of States have been really concerned about the health of their citizens, and, therefore, have promoted increasingly intense campaigns. Thirty years ago, it was possible to see people smoking at the office, and ten years before, even on airplanes and waiting rooms of hospitals. What’s more, it was common for an athlete to light a cigarette before competing. When did it become such an awful activity?

Recommended: When did smoking become so unpopular?

It is more than a rhetorical question. As Immanuel Kant said in his famous essay What is Enlightenment?, it is important to foster critical thinking in people (especially kids and teenagers) and going beyond statistics and the second and third-hand data that support any popular belief. In fact, there are activities, products and services that negatively affect the health of people, equally or even more than smoking, but, interestingly, they are not that watched by their critics. Even though is already encouraged to stop using fossil fuels (mainly for environmental reasons), nuclear power, genetically modified or high-sodium foods, those awareness campaigns never reach the same intensity, nor produce much displeasure in the population, as, let’s say, lighting a cigarette on a public library. Why does this happen? If the use of cell phones and the exposure to the invisible waves of Wi-Fi are also responsible for the deteriorating health of citizens, why are not as unpopular as the mere fact of smoking? Sapere Aude, says Kant.

Related: Companies that pollute the most (and which urgently need better Online Reputation Management), by ReputationDefender

Even if the black propaganda is true, there is nothing wrong with improving the online reputation of the tobacco industry. Most people consider that bad reputation, in general, is a matter of social justice, something that the guilty people deserve (regardless of the bad reputation is produced as a result of the own acts or the acts and/or words of others.) For this reason, people consider that it is not just unethical to defend and improve the online reputation of a so hated industry, but it is a must to keep it so, as the raison d’etre of such a reputation is the protection of the nonsmoker society and a way to avoid new smokers.

The problem is that this reasoning is not only unfair if applied in cases where the bad reputation is produced after the wrongdoings of others, instead of the own actions. This reasoning is also problematic since it teaches people not to think for themselves and stop looking for evidence that gives sense to everything they believe in.

Online Reputation Management for tobacco companies: A social crime?
Image courtesy of Jake Gordon at Flickr.com

Smokers know what they are doing, just as sedentary people, speed racers, cheese hamburgers lovers and martial arts fighters know what they are doing. Placing warning about the hazards of tobacco is a useless measure (there are actually jokes about asking packs with lung cancer warnings instead of sexual impotence warnings…). In fact, there have been cigarette brands, like Death that don’t include those warnings, because their logos are skulls and crossbones (and customers don’t mind and even feel tough guys thanks to it.)

When the certainties of each person and their life decisions are based on second or third-hand information, the concepts of truth and freedom stumble. Allowing others to reach their own conclusions and making their own decisions (even if they are influenced by tobacco advertising, just like are actually influenced by the advertising of Coca-Cola, Nike or KFC) is to promote and ensure the basic principles of democracy and free societies. On the contrary, attacking these bases, encourages States to adopt the common paternalism of dictatorships. What are the rules of the game then?