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There are plenty of misconceptions out there about how online reputations are created, damaged — and repaired. What you don’t know about online reputation management can hurt your brand.

People used to turn to publications like Consumer Reports when they wanted to research a product. Today, a wealth of information about every company and every product is a keystroke away. Consumers rely heavily on what they read online before making decisions. What they see there can make — or break — the deal.

There are several common misconceptions people have about how to shape an online footprint. Dealing with negative online content is still a relatively new issue for businesses, and many don’t know where to find the book of rules. That’s because it’s still being written.

The Head In The Sand Approach.

It can be scary to Google one’s business or oneself and see what comes up: many people opt for putting on blinders and not looking at their online profile. Surprisingly, some businesses choose to either not monitor their online presence, or ignore negative content because they think there’s nothing to be done about it. Doing nothing is the worst thing they can do. 

I Can’t Control My Online Image.

Digital reputation management isn’t about controlling. It’s about planning for and responding to

events that seem beyond control. It’s about cultivating and crafting a positive online presence, and using an effective search optimization strategy to drive that image to the top of Google search rankings.

The Problem Isn’t My Company. It’s The Anonymous Commenters.

Sometimes it is you. Maybe it’s an employee with a bad attitude and a customer relations problem. Maybe your product really does have a defect. Maybe you’ve unintentionally treated clients or customers poorly and aren’t aware of how they might react. If so, you need to find the root of the problem and deal with it.

Think of online reviews as free marketing research. Many companies still rely on data from surveys they conduct, but reviews can cast a wider net in terms of what people really think. 

Look for patterns and themes in the criticism. If you find one, there’s a problem that needs to be addressed. Sometimes reaching out to an angry commenter can change their mind and they’ll post a new and positive comment.    

The Internet Is Written In Stone

What’s written about you online can follow you forever, but only if you let it.

If someone has posted something that’s false or potentially libelous, there are avenues to have it removed. You can contact the webmaster or Google and explain the issue. If possible, contact the individual who posted it, address their issues or concerns and request a retraction.   

Matt Earle

Founder & President

Matt Earle, Founder of Reputation.ca, is a leading Canadian expert on online reputation management with over 15 years of hands on experience working in the space. Mr. Earle’s educational background includes an H.BSc from the University of Toronto and certification as a Google Professional. His expertise has been acknowledged through national television appearances on CBC, PBS and CTV, being a guest host on CBC radio, and numerous quotes in print and online media.