When we ask people what they think online reputation management is, the usual response is a dumbfounded look of ignorance. But for some, the immediate concept of this new service is that it is a form of online PR one’s “Internet Resumé”. Here we will take a look at the personal and corporate site of online reputation management.
Polishing Your Internet Resumé
A recent study from monster.com shows that 77% of employers will google their candidates before hiring them, but headhunters and employment agencies are close to 100% in their use of Google to research the applicants.
This gives us a whole new perspective on the importance of your online image, activity, comments and photo publishing. Acting out of place on a single social network could lose you the job you have always wanted.
The problem for all of us, in this case, is that the Internet is almost timeless. What you do now, may affect your career for many years to come.
The image above went viral. Though an extreme case, you can bet she had a problem applying for her next job. A recent article from Susan Adams covers some of the online reputation management tools which can be used on a personal level when you have unwanted Google results connected to your name.
Now let’s talk about businesses.
Corporate reputation starts much earlier
“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” — John F. Kennedy
When it comes to corporate reputation management, the jobs of hundreds or even thousands are at stake. Stocks can drop and stakeholders can run for the hills when things get out of control online. Reputation management for businesses starts long before the moment of crisis, defamation or libel. Don’t wait for the flood to take action.
It essential to establish a “wellness unit” of some sort within a company. This would be a person or team who is trained in the effective monitoring of all online discussion, reactions, comments and reviews pertaining to the firm. The technology exists to monitor such instances. The tools the “wellness unit” could get familiar with are Google Alerts, Hootsuite, CoTweet, Sprout Social, Argyle, Sysomos, and Vitrue. These platforms allows one to watch, interact and even gauge with algorithmic logic when certain negative words are being used, giving advanced warning when things are starting to go south in your public arena.
Start with tracking the following parts of your organisation:
- The company name
- Variations of the company name used by others
- The CEO, President or prominent people within
- The company products or unique service names
- The name of your blog
- Competitors’ names
Good manners will pay off
Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners. — Emily Post
If you have lived life at all it will be abundantly clear that when you do not care for people around you, you will never receive that same care when you are in trouble. Interaction, communication coupled with the recognition that there are real people watching you or or your company’s activities is a form of manners.
– Have you ever tweeted a big brand and gotten an answer?
– Have you posted a photo on a Facebook fan page or business page and gotten a “like” out of it from the brand or person themselves?
– Have you published an article on Linkedin and gotten good feedback from a person?
– Have you ever left a complaint and customer services got back to you right away to resolve the matter?
All of these things are internet interaction and manners. People love to be noticed. In fact, it is one of the primary goals of social media and even the internet — to be noticed and to be heard.
We recently published an article on Kissmetrics which touched on this area. This is a great example of a rude response which will cause a brand to suffer, let alone the bad word of mouth.
@aprildunford that's awesome... we are in the coffee business, not the office business. We have plenty of outlets to do what we need...— Dark Horse Espresso (@darkhorsecafe) January 15, 2010
All that would have been required was a simple, “Thank you April, we appreciate that more people are choosing us for a friendly work and break environment. I will mention this to management.”
Facing a reputation crisis
So much has been said on the subject of crisis management and online reputation management, so when the curtains fall and all hell breaks loose it is important that corporations understand and have drilled the emergency response actions to be taken. Without covering ground which already has tried and tested procedures, I would recommend a look through the blog of the crisis management leader, Jonathan Bernstein, for more information on crisis response task force procedures and strategy.
However, the reputation tips given above for all social media interaction are essential to create a foundation of loyal followers who will carry you through a reputation crisis and stick with you when the media vultures, jealous ex-employees, competitors or troublemakers start their number.
Online defamation removal and suppression
Probably the most uncertain and unused step in any crisis or reputation disaster is the use of powerful suppression techniques for unwanted Google results. When the dust has settled, the rubble needs to be cleared to allow for a brand or person to continue without having the stain of yesterday always hovering over them.
What you will need:
- A good online reputation management company who works on results, rather than monthly retainers
- Legal support from an online defamation lawyer with a large portfolio of successful cases
- Cyber investigation services
Corporate reputation management is a new game. It requires constant diligence and observation of all communication and media channels and an effective strategy to resolve any instance of defamation. With this, one can focus on the goals of the company and take it to new levels of expansion.