Reputation management has an interesting history, given the advent of new technologies over the past 30 years. In a less connected age, before the Internet and social media, reputation management was mostly a public relations affair — something that happened in traditional advertising spots (newspapers, billboards, radio, television, etc.) as well as offline in the community.
But with consumers searching for nearly everyone online now, reputation management has become so important that many people refer to it as primarily (or only) an online function. Hence, we have the buzz phrase of online reputation management.
Below are five tips and secrets to mastering online reputation management.
1. Search yourself on Google
And while you’re at it, check the other major search engines and social sites too: Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. That’s the first step — to get an idea of what your reputation online actually looks like to the average searcher.
From there, you can hire a professional reputation manager to clean up any negative content, or take the time and trouble to do it yourself.
2. Learn the privacy settings
If there are networks or websites where you post things or have any type of presence for which you prefer to maintain a level of privacy, make sure to learn the privacy settings and adhere to them.
Nearly every major network and social media outlet has certain elements of privacy protection, but it’s important to remember that absolutely nothing online is completely private. The data generated by your activities is constantly monitored and often used commercially.
It’s typically the type of commercial use that does not identify individual users, but since that capability exists, and leaks happen, it’s best to assume that everything you do online, on every site, could potentially be accessed by the public.
3. Use Google Alerts
Google currently has a massive share of online search activity, and they have a tool called Google Alerts that’s free to set up, and it runs constantly.
You can set up an automatic search for “Johnson Widgets” and it will email you daily, weekly, or instantly, when any content online turns up for Johnson Widgets. It’s not a bad idea to add negative items to your alerts, like “Johnson Widgets complaint,” and receive those as well.
4. Go to the source
If you find negative comments online, do what the great customer service operations do: address it immediately. Go to the source of the comment, and ask what happened. Hear them out, and offer an apology and a solution.
If that goes well, ask them to remove the negative comment they posted, or (better yet) post an updated report that shows you rectified the situation. These types of wins online, when transparent, do a lot to help your reputation!
5. Protect the perception of your new behaviors
This is essential when it comes to collecting (and acting on) big data. With online reputation management, it’s easy to forget that when you take new sets of behaviors, you’ll need to double-check that all the tools you’ve employed are helping to monitor consumer perceptions of your data-gathering methods online, as well as your operations toward the new big data objectives.
If it’s obvious to customers that you’re utilizing big data from GPS devices, traffic systems, social media sentiment, RFID tags, or anything else that might trigger negative effects if criticized and unaddressed, then you’ll want to make sure all new actions (and the reaction to them) are monitored by your existing reputation management tool.