Negative publicity can bury a business, and with the increasing ubiquity of the Internet, the risk is greater than ever for businesses to lose control of their brand or have their reputation unfairly tarred.
In the past, negative news usually made its way through the news cycle and then faded from public consciousness. Today, bad news can stick around for a long time, popping up every time a potential customer, client or partner does a Web search, closing the door on opportunities and potentially threatening the future of your organization.
Also, with the growth in popularity of blogs, forums and customer review sites, it’s a lot easier for a few unhappy customers or disgruntled employees to wage a smear campaign against your business, blackening your brand with lies, misinformation and slander.
In today’s world, maintaining a vigilant watch on your online reputation can make the difference between profitability and bankruptcy. Protecting your online reputation starts with being aware of it. The easiest way you can keep up with what’s being posted about you is to do a Google search of your company name online.
Once every couple of weeks (or when a less-than-fortunate event occurs) you’ll probably want to run your company name through Google to see what comes up. Chances are that there won’t be much, but sometimes you may be surprised at what comes up, whether it’s news stories, blog postings, comments to news sites or items on your employees’ social networking pages.
Your online reputation is an increasingly important part of your brand. According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, nearly two-thirds of all retail consumers do research online before making purchases. As 75 percent of these consumers say the Web search improves their buying experience, this trend isn’t going away.
By carefully monitoring the Web, you can make sure that customers’ first online impression of your company is a good impression, and take steps to suppress negative stories or blog posts about your business.
Listening to what’s being said about your business online can also help you recognize problems that need to be resolved that you otherwise may have missed. By monitoring blogs and customer review sites on Google, you can find out if your customers, partners and suppliers are happy, if your employers are doing their job, or if your competition is getting ahead of you.
By taking steps to monitor and protect your online reputation can help shield your company from brand-busting negative information, correct potential problems and protect the hard-earned reputation you and your employees have worked so long to build.