How much value do you place on your good name? Just a couple of years ago terms like “online reputation” seemed to be relevant only to big companies. In fact, the term “online reputation management” was unheard of until 2007 when it first appeared in Washington Post. These days things are different and most companies and many individuals are in a desperate need of professional help.
Your Image Online
More and more companies will make an online research on you before hiring you and even your sweetheart will make a quick Google search for your name before making up his or her mind about marrying you. To make matters worse, Internet has a long memory, and if you were unfortunate enough to post a less than smart comment somewhere on the web 10 years ago or your mean-spirited ex is posting your personal pictures anywhere he possibly can, you are in a real trouble.
Who is shaping your image?
Unfortunately your online image is not built solely by your own efforts. Your friends can mention your name on social networks, tag your photos or even mention you in their
b log posts. While all these powerful tools are available to everyone, most people don’t realize the full impact. They don’t understand how search engines work, they have no idea this content will be actually indexed and ranked.
For example, I had a friend on Facebook who liked to tag cute but unrelated to me pictures with my name. They weren’t my pictures to begin with and weren’t provocative, but it’s kind of annoying to see Persian cats rank for my name. I am sure this friend never meant anything bad, she was only trying to get my attention. Nevertheless, it’s very disturbing that anyone (friend or enemy) can actually shape your image online. The consequences are serious enough and no, you can’t simply move to another town to fix the problem!
I am not sure whether managing online reputation is more important for individuals or companies. It seems like having flawed reputation is pretty painful for both. According to Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Digital Marketing & Social Media at Nestle, one satisfied customer will rave about your product to three friends, while one unhappy customer will make sure 3,000 know you are evil. Pete wrote an entire book dedicated to this subject. As we all know, negative information takes our attention far better than positive and no, customer is not always right.
Anyone who knows me knows I started online with Site Build It!, a company with somewhat controversial reputation. While one might argue about the value of their product, a lot of their problems come from simple misunderstandings. Most of their customers are non-technical people, which means these customers don’t completely understand what they can or cannot demand from SBI!
For instance, they had a customer who wanted to leave SBI! and move to another provider. As usual, he expected to get help from SiteSell, which of course didn’t happen. The customer was complaining bitterly about SBI! in their private forum and that forum thread received many thousands views. If this customer had any experience with building websites before SBI! he would know that no company will spend time helping you move out. In fact, most will not even help you downgrade your account to a cheaper version of their product, leave alone moving to competitors. Nevertheless, it was another negative thread in SBI! forum and I am certain many members were nodding their heads while reading.
People are extremely busy and often have no time nor desire to figure things out. Someone could have purchased your e-book or e-course after skimming through your sales page only to find out it’s not what he expected. Although you might have a great return policy in place, some of your customers will still go to places like scam.com or Yahoo Answers and tell your work is an absolute trash. Although you aren’t guilty, these negative comments and reviews will float around the web for years to come. The question is: are you going to let your online identity and reputation be built chaotically with no clear plan, or you are going to take control of your own image and show the world the complete picture of you and your business?
Managing your online reputation is not an easy task due to the nature of the web. With millions of new pages being added every day, it’s constantly changing. It would be comforting to have someone track your search results and monitor what’s being said about you and your business.