Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fail to protect your online reputation at your own peril



As we all know, the internet is a valuable tool that most businesses cannot do without. There is no better way to market your product or service that I am aware of but as useful as the internet can be it also has the potential to harm us if someone wanted to damage our reputation. It doesn’t matter if what is posted on the internet is true or not, it only matters that others will read something negative about us and they will have no way of knowing whether it is fact or fiction.

Are you taking steps to protect your online reputation? If not, there may be some misinformation on the internet that is hurting your business that you aren’t even aware of. Here are 5 things you can do to help ensure that you look as good online as you do in person.

Check all of the major search engines
I know that a lot of us do periodically search the web to see if we are getting results that will lead people to our business but are you reading what is being said about you? You might be mentioned in a number of places including product/service review posts and the all popular social media sites. If you know how to do it you might consider setting up automatic alerts or an RSS feed to help you track what is being said about you. At the very least you should be doing a search once a month if not more often. You can also set up a Google Alert using your name (or business name for free).

Set up your business profile wherever possible
Even if there are sites that you don’t plan to use for marketing purposes you should still create a profile on them. In this way you make yourself visible to those persons that do visit the site regularly. Better yet, find the time to post something on all of these sites at least once a day or allocate this responsibility to someone else if you are too busy. In marketing, exposure is EVERYTHING.

Develop an internet “policy” and stick to it
Decide what is and is not to be “handled” on the various websites that you use during the course of advertising and marketing. Facebook may be a great place to tell your readers about a new promotion but is this where you should try to resolve a complaint from a client or customer? Decide which customer service actions can be dealt with in this type of forum and which are better resolved in a more private manner such as an email or phone call. Remember, others are reading too. Be sure that everyone in your organization is aware of your new policy in this matter.

Market aggressively
Finding few search results about yourself on the major search engines can be just as damaging to you as bad reviews. After all, if you were looking to buy a new pair of shoes on the internet and found only 1 result for “Bob’s Discount Warehouse” would you go there? Use the internet to the fullest including social websites, your business site and even press releases if relevant to your particular product or service. You want to appear to the world as “the” expert in your field and that means a lot of exposure. In this way you can contribute to having a positive and professional online image.

Use a Professional Software Solution to Help
There are many software solutions that will help you to monitor your online presence as well. Reputation.com is one such service but a quick search on the internet will find you many more. This is a good way to help automate the process of monitoring your online reputation. Some software also allows you to compare your online performance with competitors.

The bottom line is that even if you don’t use the internet as much as you should to promote your business, many potential and past clients do and they just might have something to say about you.

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