An Overview of Reputation Management
Are you aware of what individuals such as former employees or the competition are saying about your or your company online? Thanks to online tools such as blogs, customer reviews, and video sharing, people are able to create and distribute content about you or your business without your knowledge or control. It is extremely important to pay attention to what's being said online about your business. Before anything starts to affect your business, you should do everything in your power to eliminate the negative and to help promote a positive image. Individuals rely on reputation - especially online reputation - before they decide to dive into situations such as business ventures, employment or purchases. In the end, the overall goal of reputation management is to ensure that any content that is currently on the web is as positive and accurate as possible. WHAT EXACTLY IS BUSINESS REPUTATION MANAGEMENT? The reputation management of a business is all about becoming more active in the overall perception of your brand. While you may not be able to control every single thing that is said via the internet, you will be able to control the reputation of your brand by partaking in such activities as conversations with supporters and non-supporters and promoting/distributing content that is as positive as possible. WHY IS ONLINE REPUTATION MANAGEMENT SO IMPORTANT? The answer to this question is rather simple and easy to understand: people are always using various forms of media to obtain information regarding your business, including blogs, images, reviews from customers, etc. These are all things that will help them make informed decisions in regards to whether or not they wish to interact with your business. THE OVERALL IMPACT ON THE PERCEPTION OF YOUR BUSINESS At some point or another in your life, you've likely heard the phrase "perception is reality." This is most definitely the case in the world of business. This means that if someone decides to do a search for your business on a search engine like Google and they find something that shows your company in a negative light, then their overall perception of your business will end up being the same, even if they haven't actually tried it out. THE OVERALL IMPACT ON YOUR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY If someone is looking to invest in things such as a company trademark, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property, this will require a great deal of time and money. If someone unscrupulous is able to do this, then they can arrange things to end up causing potential customers to be redirected to their own businesses. This is something that can have a truly negative impact on all of your intellectual property. THE OVERALL IMPACT ON RELATIONSHIPS WITH INVESTORS Similar to most other individuals, investors also opt to use sources such as blogs in order to obtain a fair and balanced opinion regarding whether or not it's truly worth investing in a company, whether they want to hold it, sell it, or purchase it outright. Blogs are also great sources for many forms of discussion, which investors can also look at to help them make an informed decision. THE OVERALL IMPACT ON FINANCIALS Blog activity saw a sharp increase in July of 2008 when Starbucks announced that they would be closing down certain stores across the United States. Around the same time, stocks in the company dropped to approximately below $14 per share, which was the lowest price it had reached throughout that entire month. And all of this was caused by the perception throughout the entire internet that Starbucks was in some kind of financial trouble. This is also something that can happen to virtually any other company, making it extremely important to always keep an eye on it. THE OVERALL IMPACT ON SALES If you found a product at a certain online retailer that you really wanted to get, but then saw that the company had a great deal of negative reviews, would you still consider purchasing the product from them? Chances are your answer to that question would be an emphatic "no." In terms of your own business, this is something that can cause customers to spend vast amounts of time looking for better deals from companies who have been more positively reviewed, which can lead to a steep decline in sales for your own business. THE OVERALL IMPACT ON RECRUITMENT The reputation of your business can also have a direct impact on job seekers as well, as these individuals typically like to research a company before submitting a job application or resume to them. For example, if your business has garnered quite a few negative reviews, chances are that job seekers will not want to apply to work at your business. In addition, their perception of your business could become affected if they receive negative feedback from anyone who may be a former employee of yours. COMPOSE A USEFUL REPUTATION MANAGEMENT PLAN In order to successfully manage the reputation of a business, careful planning is most definitely required. If you instead just jump into everything right away, your entire plan can end up falling apart at the seams. A brand reputation management program that is well-planned requires the following: *Ongoing monitoring *Community identification (those which have a large and vocal membership) *Active participation within the communities You will also need to consider the following questions to be asked: *What is the overall purpose of the program? *Are you interested in obtaining any kind of feedback? *How often do you plan to monitor everything? *Who all will be managing the program? MONITOR EVERYTHING There are many different kinds of tools that are at your disposal which can be used to help monitor everything regarding your brand. These tools are able to scan through many different search engines to detect whether or not anyone made searches regarding your company and how often these searches were conducted. PROMOTE A MORE POSITIVE IMAGE OF YOUR BUSINESS When you make content involving your business more engaging and relevant, this will result in your being able to control the overall visibility of your business. In addition, you will be able to effectively deal with any kind of negativity that may arise. Here are some examples of content that you can use to help create a more positive image of your business. *Articles/white papers *Press releases *Videos *Podcasts *Photos/graphics *Social network profiles SUPPRESS ALL NEGATIVITY After you work to promote a positive image for your company, the next step is to help suppress any negativity that may arise. This involves taking certain steps, which are as follows: *Paid search for quick visibility *Court all of your influencers *Address any and all negative reviews *Provide links to positive content *Purchase domain name variations WHAT'S NEXT? You should always maintain a positive online presence of your brand by being as persistent as possible. When you fail to acknowledge all of the influence that online communities have on your business, the only end result is disaster. Regardless of what you are looking to improve upon, if you are not persistent, any action or inaction that you take can negatively impact everything. In the end, your overall goal should be to make your business as positive as it can be to all of your existing and potential customers.