When you start a business, your company's reputation is something like the pristine snow on the top of a steep, beautiful mountain - everything is smooth and glistening and free of dirt.
But then a careless skier or snowmobiler comes along and carves ruts in the snow, leaving a scarred landscape that is difficult to repair.
In some cases, this careless person triggers a landslide that starts slowly but quickly gains momentum. Before you know it, your company's reputation is tumbling downhill and quickly spiraling out of control.
If you don't check the top of your mountain regularly - and don't put safety procedures in place early - you run the risk of losing your innocence very quickly. And once it's gone, it's hard to restore your company's Reputation Repair.
A friend of mine once told me how his company, a diet website, had discovered a series of negative food reviews on a third-party site. By the time this chatter was discovered, it had grown into a sizable series of complaints. Company officials decided to fight fire with fire.
The company's social media director reached out to about a dozen existing customers and asked each of them to write about their experience with the company. Many of these customers - who were satisfied with the diet website - complied and posted their positive reviews on the page where the negative feedback had originally erupted.
The end result: the onslaught of positive reviews appeared at the top of the thread, successfully pushing the negative reviews "down" and out of sight - unless a reader scrolled quite a bit through the deep snow.
A reactive punch can work, but it's far better to proactively work toward positive online reviews.
I've been involved in the launch of over 500 products. Not all were greeted with ticker-tape parades or "It's a Wonderful Life" exuberances of love and devotion.
Over the years, I've learned that shaping the way the world will see you and your company (or product) is better than sitting back and hoping the rave reviews roll in.
On social media, anyone with an ax to grind can launch an attack and cast an unflattering light on you and your business. The rise of social media is partly responsible for the fact that online reputation management (ORM) is now a $5 billion industry. There are hundreds of companies dedicated to monitoring, repairing, improving, and controlling the reputations of individuals and businesses.
Incorporating reputation building into your business plan can save you the hassle and expense of having to respond to a negative campaign. Building a positive online reputation is critical for your business.
How many times have you rushed to Google or Bing to research a business or person? When others search for you in the search engines, you should do everything you can to ensure that the majority of the results are positive.
If you haven't done so lately, Google your business name (and your name) and look at the results on the first page. Congratulations if what you find is accurate and positive in nature.
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