When you’re outside on a sunny day, your shadow will tag along with you, serving as your constant companion wherever you go. But at night, in the darkness, it hides. Your reputation, on the other hand, follows you everywhere, all the time. And people know it.
Day or night, fair weather or foul, the way that others perceive you shapes your ability to gain their trust—and their business. This is true online just as it is in life. If you’ve got a bad reputation anywhere, you’re likely scaring potential clients away.
You might think that you can build and maintain a good reputation simply by living an honorable life. That’s a solid start, and a noble goal. Triple Canopy Media applauds you for your devotion to virtue.
Sadly, maintaining a good reputation is often not as straightforward as it ought to be. That’s where reputation management comes in.
Reputation management is the process of influencing and shaping how others see a person, a company, or a brand. It was always a part of the marketing and public relations world, but in the online era it’s more important than ever.
You can do everything right—work hard, run your business honestly, treat your employees and your customers fairly—but still not reap of the full benefits of an earned positive reputation.
This is because there are a number of moving parts that define your reputation online.
One major way that customers learn about your business is through reading online reviews. Reviews matter. A lot. In fact, more than 95% of shoppers check them before committing to a purchase.
This isn’t just true of online shopping either. The same high numbers apply to local businesses, with 91% of searchers in the coveted demographic of 18-34-year-olds trusting online reviews just as much as recommendations from people they know in real life.
Getting good reviews is huge. But there’s more to reputation management than that. What are some of the steps you can take to ensure that you and your business maintain a positive online reputation? Read on!
Don’t Be Shady, Don’t Be a Jerk
Alright, perhaps there’s not a lot of technical knowhow wrapped up in this one, but we would be remiss if we failed to lead with it. If you lie, if you cheat, if you’re rude, if you’re undependable, then that’s going to damage or completely shape your negative reputation.
Some people feel that the universe is out to get them. It’s probably not. They’re just inviting its retribution by embodying all of the bad traits that they were (hopefully) told not to embrace when they were children.
Nastiness begets people who call nastiness out. And online, people aren’t shy about telling you and everyone else what they really think.
Abhor the Vacuum
Let’s accept that you’re generally an honest person and you run your business above board. Good for you! Unfortunately, if you don’t have much of an online presence, then it won’t take very much effort on the part of a bad actor to define your web identity for you.
Bad actors could include unscrupulous competitors looking to get ahead the easy way, disgruntled customers pursuing a vendetta, or random trolls scheming to make someone’s life miserable for their own amusement.
There are plenty of proactive steps you can take to make sure that it’s an uphill climb for anyone who wants to defame you.
If you run a business, make sure that it has a phenomenal website. Create a business Facebook page for it. Make sure that you’re on LinkedIn too. Basically, you should have some kind of presence on all of the major social media platforms. (This is good from an SEO standpoint as well, as it gives search engines more of you to find.) It doesn’t hurt for you to join chambers of commerce and trade associations either.
For individuals, these same tips apply. Create and maintain social media accounts but be sure that their content presents you to the world in the best light. Join professional organizations in your industry or field of study.
Content, Content, Content!
There’s that word again: content. It’s a mantra for TCM, and it should be one for you as well. A bare-bones business website is better than no website at all, of course. But a dynamic business website full of robust, informative, and authoritative content is even better.
Creating good content that can help you rank highly in the search engine results will push bad content down lower on the SERPs. Plus, if a customer reads it, they will hear about you, from you, and in your own voice, not someone else’s.
Those Reviews Once Again
As we mentioned above, bad reviews can harm your standing with customers, especially younger, more online-savvy ones. Sometimes bad reviews from customers are justified. Other times, they’re unreasonable. Needless to say, you want way more good ones than bad ones.
The best way to combat bad online reviews is to actively solicit good ones from customers. TCM’s rabid fans know that we have written about this in a previous blog post.
Still, flooding the online space with positive reviews won’t make the bad ones disappear completely. But it will dilute their power.
There are also benefits, believe it or not, to having some negative online reviews.
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer for a moment. If that person, looking at a host of online reviews, sees nothing but glowing comments, that could be a red flag. The customer might start to wonder if the deck is stacked.
A few negative reviews can allow your business to avoid the axiom: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” They can help give a potential customer a fuller picture of the business in question, from the best- to the worst-case scenario.
Negative reviews can also empower your company to engage with dissatisfied customers and publicly demonstrate to future customers the manner in which you respond to difficult situations. They can also be useful internally, as many negative reviews are actually constructive, and not just libel meant to destroy you.
Be the best “you” that you can be, both as a person, and as a business. Actively shape your online character by creating content, soliciting positive reviews, and staying engaged with customers.
If you find this process to be overwhelming, don’t worry. The professionals here at Triple Canopy Media know all about reputation management.
We can help you devise a comprehensive reputation management plan, push negative results down below the top search results in Google, and create outstanding content to take their place.
Contact TCM! We’ll make sure you shine!