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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Caring For Your Online Reputation

Many potential clients will do an online search for a company before committing to doing business with them. So needless to say, you should always be aware of your online reputation.

It is impossible to fully separate your personal, professional your business presence these days. One way to do so is to refrain from having a personal online presence at all, or, failing that, monitoring your online reputation closely. Some sites let you do so more easily than others though. Facebook, for example, lets you remove tags from photos of you posted by other people, while YouTube does not let you so easily remove such offensive content.

Managing Your Online Reputation

Perhaps the most important aspect of managing your online business reputation is through customer service. An excellent example of how refusal to admit liability can lead to an online reputation nightmare is the now infamous “United Breaks Guitars” video on YouTube. The message in this video is that United Airlines has such poor customer service that you are better off flying with someone else, and it has already been viewed by over 10 million people worldwide. Needless to say, this is something United Airlines could easily have avoided had they simply offered better customer service from the start.

These days people have myriad ways of being heard online and they will use every one of them to tell the world that they were wronged. They will create online Yahoo! or Facebook groups, such as the "TD Ameritrade - I hate TDAmeritrade's horrendous customer service" Facebook group. They will also rate your product or service negatively wherever they can do so, such as on Amazon.com, or elsewhere. They will tweet about their bad experience or your poor service, and Twitter posts have the capacity to circle the world in a matter of seconds. And yes, they might even make YouTube Videos about their bad experience. The problem is that any one of these pieces of negative user-generated content can easily go viral over night.

Online Reputation Management and Repair

The best way to avoid getting a negative reputation is to establish and maintain a positive and strong web presence of your own, closely monitoring it, and addressing anything negative as soon as you become aware of it. For example, keep an active Facebook profile and monitor it constantly, answer all customer queries and try to solve all customer problems in a timely manner, monitor what people find when they search for you in Google, and try to answer any complaint the best you can.

Obviously you can’t control and fix all of it, nor can you satisfy everyone. But by aiming to satisfy most, you are putting your business on a good path to having a positive online reputation.

Staff Blogger, the Technology Gurus, Inc.

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