4 Strategies for Controlling the Reputation of Your Business Online

For those who intend to run a business online, maintaining a good reputation will always be of paramount concern. In a world where every customer response and review is eternally searchable, it is vitally important that business owners pay particular attention to their customer relationships and do everything they can to solve avoidable problems before they become unavoidable.

Fortunately, many of the technologies customers use to evaluate a business and its reputation can be used by business owners to preserve and protect their reputation against unfair and damaging criticisms. Naturally, this is far more a process than a goal, but given time and experience, it can become relatively easy for a prepared business to manage their reputation in such a way as to not only protect it, but profit from it. Here are a few things to consider.

Learning How to Search

In order to manage a reputation, a business must first be aware of it. One of the best tools for keeping track of what’s being said about your company on a continuous basis is Google Alerts.

An alert is a pre-determined set of search criteria you can set up on Google to watch for a particular keyword or key phrase. When Google finds a new instance of that keyword or phrase online, you will receive an e-mail with a link to the search results.

This is a powerful way to gain an up-to-the-minute picture of any potential crises as they develop. A company can then act with good community management practices to contain any potential damage and respond to the customer’s concerns. For example, some people started to believe in the ACN scam narrative due to their direct sales strategy, but ACN was able to identify the trend and counter with their own content to dispel the myths.

Allow Customers to Speak

In the entertainment world, most professionals are well aware of the advice to never respond to a critic. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and there is little an actor, director, musician or author can say that is going to convince a critic their opinion is wrong.

The fastest way to create a reputation problem where none previously existed is to get into a public dispute with someone who leaves you a bad review. The web is replete with examples of this kind of blunder, and in many cases it can lead to a reputational black mark that can never fully be washed out.

There is little to be gained by arguing with customers. If there is a problem that can be solved, by all means do so, but if someone just doesn’t like you, shrug and move on. The rest of your potential market will be watching and potentially judging if you do otherwise.

Free Speech Vs Free Speech

Although there is little to be gained by addressing a critic directly, there is nothing stopping any business from issuing a public statement. In fact, this can be one of the most effective and powerful ways to blunt unfair criticism and, as an added benefit, it is just as searchable and on-topic as any critic’s words.

As any rhetorician will tell you, the cure for free speech you don’t agree with is more free speech, not censorship. Acknowledge your interlocutor and then carefully explain your position. Many of your future customers may be impressed by your candor and may decide to take advantage of your services as a result.

Your critics may not agree with you but without them, you wouldn’t have had a chance to issue the statement in the first place.

Professional Advice

Public relations is far more important in the online world than it was only a few years ago. There are people with considerable experience in these matters who can not only help manage your reputation, but repair it if necessary. Don’t be afraid to seek the advice of experienced people. It may well be worth the time and cost compared to the alternatives.

Reputation management is decidedly a journey more than a destination. Over time best practices will emerge and likely make things much easier for smaller companies with limited budgets and time. In the meantime, technology can give most an advantage.

About the author

Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she's used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here. If you are interested in an online safety degree, Anica suggests you check out the programs offered by Eastern Kentucky University.


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