The internet is becoming more and more transparent every day. As we move toward a increasingly social and open internet environment, more people are opting to use their own names and faces when posting information, comments, and other content online. In fact, we are moving toward an internet society where it is easy to track who is posting certain information, who owns specific websites, and who is sharing their opinions online. In such a future, people would behave online like they do in real life, respecting one another and (ideally) taking responsibility for their actions.
However, we are not there yet. It is still incredibly easy to post anonymous comments online and blog behind a false identity. This sense of anonymity fuels the idea that you can say and do whatever you want to online without repercussions and without the burden of responsibility. This false sense of freedom, coupled with the easy and globally accessible nature of the internet has created a new threat to your company. It allows for just about anyone with a grudge to attack your company online and influence the way you are perceived by hundreds or thousands of people every day.
What is Online Reputation Management?
It doesn’t matter if negative attacks or the irrational and unfounded rant of an unsatisfied customer are true or not. If that negative information about you company surfaces or makes it way to the top of a Google search, it can drive away thousands (or millions) of dollars in potential business and future profits.
Reputation management seeks to even the score by implementing strategies and tactics that keep your company name clean and positive to anyone who searches for your company online. These services can push negative reviews and false “scam alerts” off the first page of a search results page for your company name, helping you save face and put your best foot forward with new potential customers.
A Growing Concern
Not long ago, Eisner Amper conducted a study on corporate concerns about risk and found that reputational risk (or the risk that negative online information about your company will adversely affect sales and customer acquisition) is now the highest risk concern of CEO’s and boards of directors across the country.
These companies realize that the way they are perceived online can have huge repercussions for their brand and their sales. And they are concerned that the open, free, and anonymous nature of the internet can rise up at any time and strike their company, resulting in lost profits and ruined business.
Now is the Time for Reputation Management
What companies need to understand is that they can no longer rely on their homepage to give customers a positive first impression of their organization. The opinion of your company begins to form as soon as a customer sees the top 10 results of a Google search for your company name. One mention of a “scam alert” or one negative rant from a disgruntled former employee in the search results, and customers will already be looking for reasons not to trust you with their business and their money.
The time for reputation management is now. If your company has been plagued with negative reviews and unfounded claims, take the step to clean up your online reputation by employing reputation management practices and putting your best foot forward with anyone who wants to know more about your company.