Scour the web for information on Internet reputation management. Go ahead…scour. I’ll wait.
Chances are, most of what you find is lessons, tips, tricks, methods, ways and schemes to keep your digital nose clean and protect your Internet reputation. It’s all wrong. Most of what you will find are a range of approaches akin to business crisis management tactics – address immediately, suppress immediately, drown the crisis with misdirection, mask it with spin. It’s all wrong because these are all things you do after your Internet reputation takes a hit.
The best reputation management happens waaaay before the first poor review or the first snarky hit you take on Facebook. In other words, the most effective Internet reputation management strategy you have is the one that gathers dust on the shelf.
…Don’t give the masses a reason to go after your reputation online in the first place. It’s not rocket surgery. Just because it’s the Internet and people can anonymously trash you or your brand doesn’t mean the actual rules of commerce are inapplicable. If your company treats customers or clients (or even employees) like morons, your company deserves the crappiest of crappy reputations. If you get stung on someone’s blog because your customer service rep did actually hang up on them, you deserve it. If your company just laid off 50 people the week before Christmas, you can’t be surprised when some of them clear their throat online.
Treat others well and word-of-mouth will travel in your favor. Common human decency is not suspended on the Internet. Neither is the concept of Karma.
In reality, all businesses suffer at least a few bad reviews and knocks to their web reputation. And, as many as the parallels are between protecting your reputation management online and in real life, there are some major differences:
Just because there are ways to stifle dissent and bad p.r. on the Internet doesn’t mean companies or brands should tread less cautiously. At the same time, if you have one or two negative sites that keep popping up in search results, it doesn’t make you a bad business. The best way to protect your Internet reputation, though, is to prevent having to use it.
Check out our online reputation management services at DragonSearch for methods we use to protect your Internet reputation.