What is a business owner to do when his or her online reputation is being called into question?
For some, they choose to ignore the matter altogether, hoping it will quickly dissipate. Others, however, realize the need to react and deal with the matter, knowing that each day that goes by with negative information out there could mean less customers coming through the door.
With that being said, how can you better the chances that your online reputation as a business owner will not be called into question on a regular basis?
While some ways to go about this are pretty much common sense, some businesses fail to practice even that at times, leaving themselves vulnerable to potential problems.
As a business owner, make sure you:
1) Are Proactive and Not Reactive
First and foremost, you need to be the hunter and not the hunted when it comes to protecting your online reputation. Periodically, do a Google search to see what comes up on both your name and that of your company. If one or more people (current or former employee, upset customer, competition) has posted negative information on you or about your business, you need to address it immediately. Otherwise, you stand the chance of a negative perception permeating the Internet regarding your company.
2) Know Where to Look
Social media sites and online forums are two of the more popular places for people to go when looking to discredit a business owner. Did you have a run-in with a customer or employee lately, one that may have led them to a Facebook or Twitter account to speak negatively about you?
This is one of the reasons it is important for you as a business owner to be active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc. Along with contributing your own valuable information for customers, you can also monitor the conversation that involves your business on such sites.
3) Don’t Act Childish
In the event someone takes issue with you on a social media site or in an online forum, by all means do not fight with them. Not only do you give them the satisfaction of knowing they got to you, but you also appear bad in the eyes of those who witness such encounters. If you feel you must respond and/or defend your business, do it in a professional manner. This can also be done by taking the conversation offline if need be.
4) Spread the Good News
Finally, use the Internet and all it offers to spread the good news about your business. Using blog posts, social media, podcasts, videos, etc. allows you to promote your business, something that is even more important in a day and age where more consumers are going online to browse and shop.
If you have a positive online portfolio, you not only gain credibility from the search engines, but you make those who want to attack you look weak. If the majority of online news related to your company is positive, it makes it hard for a handful of people to discredit you and your business.
So, how proactive are you online when it comes to promoting your company, plus reacting when someone takes issue with you?