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Reputation Defending on the Internet

March 12, 2013 Bradford Group Administrator

Recently, the Tennessee Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery (TSLMS) asked me to speak at their annual conference on the topic of “Reputation Defending on the Internet.” While the aesthetics industry is a narrow one, the best practices of online reputation management are transferable across industries, and for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business companies.

Ultimately, you need to…

  • Recognize that conversations are happening online about your business
  • Understand what’s being said
  • And actively engage in the process.

The “active” part is important. Get out there. Explore. Discover. And when necessary, defend your company’s online reputation.

Step One: Monitor

When was the last time you Googled yourself or your company? What about a potential new hire or sales prospect? It’s not creepy or weird to look up people and organizations online before reaching out—it’s part of today’s business environment.

I Google myself at least once a month, because you really can’t teach others about online reputation management if you don’t know your own online brand. My “brand” consists of primarily social media profiles and running race results. There’s also an optometrist with my name who plays heavily in my search results.

It’s not creepy or weird to look up people and organizations online before reaching out—it’s part of today’s business environment.

Only 24% of small and midsized businesses in the United States currently monitor what’s being said about them online, which is absurd because 100% of businesses are being talked about online.

Here are some quick and dirty ways you can monitor your online reputation in mere minutes a day:

  • Set up Google alerts for your business name and top executives
  • Create bookmarks for review sites like Google+ Local and Yelp
  • Actually pay attention—or hire someone to pay attention—to those pings from your company’s social media profiles that indicate that someone, somewhere is calling out to your brand

Step Two: Identify

This is where we get into the “defending” part of reputation management. You can’t defend an incorrect review or comment until you identify who’s on the other end of the computer or mobile device.

Does anyone on your staff recognize the reviewer? Who’s the best person to handle your online response? Can you handle the complaint offline?

Step Three: Respond

You need to respond to the bad as well as the good. If it’s a negative comment, first acknowledge the person’s right to complain, apologize and set up action items, which are channels and steps people can follow (offline) to resolve their beef with your company.

It’s oftentimes an afterthought, but it’s important to respond to and spread good reviews and content, as well. Thank a customer for a positive comment on social media. If the feedback refers to a specific product or employee, make sure that you also circulate the praise internally. Your staff works hard to keep your company’s reputation healthy—make sure you personally recognize them when they are doing a good job.

Step Four: Create & Disseminate

This step refers back to the “active” part I highlighted in the beginning of this post. Defending your reputation on the Internet means going on the offense. You need to create and share as much positive and topical content about your business as possible.

If I know that my personal online brand is maintained primarily through social media outlets, then I’m going to make sure that those channels are as robust and appropriate as possible. For your business, you can create robust and appropriate content by…

  • Encouraging reviews
  • Optimizing your website for search results
  • Sharing stories and expertise in a blog
  • Engaging in social media

Check out my TSLMS presentation below for more information on reputation defending on the Internet. If you have any questions on the topic, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

In a nutshell, online reputation management is one of the best ways to ensure that the right people are finding your business online. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

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