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Reputation Management - "Road Rage on the Information Super Highway

Robert Saunders - Thursday, November 10, 2016

Reputation Management: Watching out for “Road Rage on the Information Super Highway”

Reputation Management is a phrase we’ve heard mentioned a lot. But what is it really, what does it mean for your business and yourself, and how do you actually manage your reputation? You might think the answers are obvious, or even so mundane that you feel the urge to move on. But in the online world we live in today, it might be worth your time to give this more consideration. As Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

Before we discuss how to manage your reputation, let’s take a quick look at history so that we can put Reputation Management into it’s proper perspective. To start, let’s go way back to the creation of Facebook in 2004. We could go back further to Al Gore’s creation of the Internet, but for our purposes Facebook makes a good starting point. Why? Because this marks the point at which Social Media went mainstream. Prior to Facebook, Social sites such as AOL, CompuServe, and even MySpace tended to keep user interaction limited to fairly narrow points of interest. With Facebook came mass adoption, and hence the (social media) hook was set.

The most impactful change that came with the mass adoption of Social Media was that social interaction for the first time was stored in memory; not just in our heads, but in the vast world wide web for all to see. Our private conversations went from engaging with just one or a few to now reaching large portions of the public as a whole. It is our nature as social animals to share our activities and interests. It’s also our nature to share the activities of others. And on the darker side, it’s also within our nature to mischievously share the misfortunes and embarrassments of others (think TMZ). This is especially true now that practically everyone has a recording and sharing device, either in their hand or within easy reach.

Your online reputation profile

So with our brief history review behind us, let’s explore why Reputation Management is important to your business and to you as an individual. For this argument, there are basically three levels or categories of self awareness that make up our online “Social Profile”:

I’m a good guy, have lots of good and caring friends/customers, and nobody speaks ill of me.

Individuals and businesses in this category might be doing some things right. They might have high integrity and character, always try to treat people right and do the right thing. The risk for these people is being lulled into a sense of false security. We never know when someone might misinterpret our comments and actions and become upset without our knowing it. The people in this category are least likely to monitor their reputation, and most likely don’t know how to respond when problems arise.

I have a high profile, and I’m concerned.

This category of people is in a position that lends them to have somewhat controversial relationships. For example, an executive or manager that has the power to hire and fire employees will eventually make someone upset with the company and them as individuals. Fired employees tend to have a lot of time on their hands to create mischief. On the other hand, an employee looked over for a promotion can wreak havoc on moral and customer service. This person should be concerned and invest the time to monitor and, when needed, repair a damaged reputation. Particularly, when it’s obvious that a current or former employee or customer is disgruntled, this person should be especially diligent.

Head in the sand

The people with their heads in the sand are the most vulnerable. It used to be that keeping your head in the sand meant that you were merely being invisible, and would be overlooked or ignored by widespread social buzz. Today, that void is all too easily filled by others; either intentionally, or not. Simply ignoring what’s going on around you is no longer an option, and the damage created by doing so can be much worse.

Steps to Managing your reputation:

Reputation management should become part of everybody’s routine. If you are at all concerned about possible negative implications of what others are saying about you or your brand online, then it’s imperative to regularly monitor what’s happening in the social Media universe. Reputation management monitoring should be at the least a weekly activity, and preferably done on a daily basis.

  • Be alert. Know what’s being said about you, your company name, your brand, and all keywords that are relevant to you using tools such as Google Alerts and SocialMention.
  • Claim your name on ALL possible review sites, i.e. Yelp. Own your profile by setting up an account on as many review sites as possible.
  • Listen to the buzz. Monitor Facebook and Twitter.
  • Engage with those in your network
  • Control the content. Be a thought Leader by providing content of value and establishing you as someone others want to follow or engage.

The power of the review:

Online reviews have enhanced, and actually multiplied traditional “Word of Mouth” as our means for either developing confidence in a product or service, or running away from it. We are no-longer limited to expressing our experiences verbally, but now our digital communications can be exponentially recycled both digitally and verbally. In a recent survey regarding customer service, it was determined that 88% of respondents have been influenced by an online review for their buying decision. And of the respondents that had bad experiences, 45% share their experiences using social media. Because of the use of social media and review sites, the number of people who see negative comments has increased dramatically. How we deal with bad reviews can have a dramatic influence on the bottom line.

How to deal with negative reviews:

  • Don’t react, but reply promptly with a measured appropriate response
    • Fight fiction with facts, meet hysteria with confidence, display passion and confidence for your brand when you defend it
  • Own up to mistakes, and explain the measures taken to correct them
  • A bad review handled in an appropriate way can actually be a positive
  • Reply, then move on
    • An appropriate reply should end the confrontation. If it doesn’t, you run the risk of stepping into a fight you can’t win. Also, at this point you might consider the possibility that an unscrupulous competitor is behind the review.

So in summary, managing your online reputation has never been more important, and the need to do so will only increase. Why? Because we can’t control what others are saying about us that might become a part of the ever lasting memory we call the “World Wide Web”. And never before in our history has one individual had the means to reach so many, and to cause so much harm. And with the distancing of ourselves from face to face communication, and the ability to publish vial and damaging comments anonymously, I believe the concern for Reputation management will only increase. I call this “road rage on the information highway.”




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