“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”- Warren Buffett

Are you one amongst the scores of organizations who feel that they don’t require Online Reputation Management? The pity is that, once the damage is done, it takes a lot more effort to recover, than what it would have taken to prevent it. The fact is that online reputation is equally important for small businesses as well as large corporations. We give you 5 sure-shot tips to boost your online reputation.

1.    Start Monitoring:

Effective monitoring is the first step towards boosting your online reputation, and you have a host of options for this:-

•    You can choose to set Google Alerts, Yahoo Alerts etc to email you the updates of the latest relevant results, based on keywords closely associated with your organization, particularly your organization name.

•    Check Google AutoComplete suggestions proactively for your company name to see if there is any negative suggestion apart from positive or neutral ones. (Note: When you are Google searching your company, make sure that you are logged out in order to view the search results from the point of view of the end-user)

•    Scan through discussions related to you on relevant online forums. Hash tag your company name, products, services etc and search to see what is being said about you on twitter. Check for sites where your customers can post their reviews from time to time, and regularly monitor the internet for negative content, unflattering photos etc.

Read http://www.wikihow.com/Monitor-Your-Online-Reputation

2.    Use Content as a Reputation Booster:

Now that you have learnt to effectively monitor, what’s next? When the top search results for your company or your chosen keywords are prompt in displaying negative content about you first, it shows that your Content Strategy has gone haywire. Don’t wait for that to happen; be proactive from the very outset!

•    You cannot eliminate the negative content, but you can definitely create SEO augmented content with amply researched keywords, to ensure that the top search results pertaining to your company display that very content, and any possible negative buzz about you on the internet, gets buried down to search pages where most viewers won’t bother to check.

•    Start with optimizing your company website and go on to posting high quality content in the form of informative blogs (preferably create a “Blog” section in your own website), testimonials, case studies, portfolios, infographics, webinars, whitepapers and so on and so forth.

•    For those web pages that have user-generated content, review them from time to time to keep a tab on spam.

3.    Positive Reviews:

I know this doesn’t sound easy, but positive online reviews single handedly constitute a fantastic way for boosting your online reputation. When a client is happy with you products or services, he would certainly not refuse to write good things about you, provided you ask him or her politely without sounding too pushy. Identify the top review sites for your niche, and try to get your happiest clients to post positive reviews about you there. Over 70 percent people consult reviews or ratings before going ahead with a purchase. So why not cash in on the power of positive reviews?

4.    SMO to the Rescue:

•    Most organizations fail to derive the maximum out of Social Media Optimization. To start with, chalk out a well-structure plan for your social media campaign, and reinforce a positive brand image by striking up conversations with end-users, creating positive brand awareness, sharing interesting and newsworthy content and building a rapport with the key influencers in your niche.

•    Although you must establish a clear, fleshed out presence on all your relevant social media sites, don’t fall into the trap of broadcasting yourself as that will totally negate the purpose. Social Media Platforms have been created with the intent of becoming “social”, so use it wisely, yet not too obviously to strengthen your online reputation.

•    A word of caution: When a large company gets negative feedback, it goes viral. Therefore it is necessary to do damage control before it is too late. (http://www.heavychef.com/top-5-online-reputation-disasters-of-2010/)

5.    Handling Negative Feedback: The Right Way

•    Most of us fail to suitably deal with negative feedback and end up either ignoring negative reviews or responding inappropriately. The unfortunate fact is that ignoring or getting defensive will only aggravate the damage done by the negative comment. Respond timely and appropriately to all feedback, irrespective of it being positive or negative.

•    For critical remarks that are true, give a timely apology, and for incorrect ones, graciously explain your stand without being too defensive. The best thing to do of course would be at the operation level itself, which is initiating appropriate service recovery before the dissatisfied client resorts to writing.

•    The Silver Lining in the cloud remains that criticism is a golden opportunity for self-improvement. (But respond appropriately and bury it to the search pages where people seldom visit.)

The Bottom Line: Nip it in the Bud

Even if you don’t have an online reputation problem right now, it is always better to remain vigilant, keep a tab of your online reputation indicators as discussed above and nip it in the bud rather than doing unnecessary fire-fighting later.

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