“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently”. Wise words from Warren Buffet, and relevant to today’s blog. That’s right, we’ll be going into detail about online reputation, both why it’s important and how to maintain it.
What is online reputation?
Online reputation can be broken down into a few key components. From a purely data-oriented perspective, your online reputation is: what shows up in the search results when somebody searches for your company, what people see on your company’s social media pages, things published in the mainstream press and reputable publications and so on.
Another component of your online reputation is what your consumers think of you. What is being said about your company or your senior members on social media, message boards and forums? Are people posting pictures or videos about your company? What are they saying in reviews? All of these are important parts of the personal side of online reputation.
The Big One
The main way people will see your online reputation is by searching for your company on a search engine like Google. What they see here will go a long way towards influencing their opinion of you, making it very important to have good search results on the first page of search engines, because people will judge you based on the first page of results. Research has shown that 89% of users don’t go beyond page 1 in search results and more 53% don’t even look past the first 2 results!
Prevention is Key
It’s very simple really. Preventing damage to your online reputation is ALWAYS better (and almost always cheaper) than repairing damage done. You should aim to control s many of the search results as you can so that when people search for your company, they see your website, social media pages, blogs etc. Make sure that if you see a negative review on a site that you don’t click on it, otherwise the traffic will drive it higher in search engine results.
Of course, the best way to make sure that your online reputation is stellar is to provide a good product and excellent customer service. If you don’t care about the wellbeing of your customers, they won’t care about you. It’s really that simple.
What to do if everything goes wrong…
Of course, even the best and most customer-focused businesses have slip ups, whether they’re mistakes with products or a social media gaffe, but the key is not to panic. If something has happened that could damage your online reputation, then damage control is all important.
They say that any publicity is good publicity, but that is absolutely not true. Bad publicity ends businesses. The best way to douse the flames of negative publicity is to simply recognise your mistake, apologise (sincerely) and try to learn from it in the future. There are plenty of examples of major multinational brands owning up to their mistakes quickly and with good grace. You may still lose some reputation, but people will look on you far more favourably than if you simply remain quiet or get defensive, and sometimes you’ll end up looking better for having apologised.
Aside from that, you should always have a plan in place in the unlikely event of something going wrong. If you have an appropriate contingency plan in place, and your employees know it, then you’ll be able to come out of any trouble with your pride, and your reputation, mostly intact.