Online Reputation Management
Reputation management, as it pertains to all things internet, has to do both with reality and myth. Either way, though, it is crucial, imperative for an internet business or enterprise. Reputation management has to do with how you are perceived in the marketplace as a business: what is your reputation? And where the myth part comes in is that you don’t have to do anything negative to have a bad reputation—in need of a reputation repair—because perception is reality. If one disgruntled customer complains outlandishly about your product on a forum page, for example, it can cause great damage to the business.
For companies doing business on the web, its openness and immediacy is both a blessing and a curse. Of course when clients rave about a product or a service, that can’t go viral fast enough. When the opposite occurs, it can’t be stopped soon enough. That is the double-edged sword companies must reckon with today—and they do so via reputation management.
What is Reputation Management
Reputation management means just what is says, and increasingly it is spawning a whole new industry on the web—companies that specialize in reputation management, in helping you stay out of trouble, but if you do experience negative customer frustration and then helping to ameliorate it. A growing problem, thus a new industry, one replete with strategies and integrated systems designed to contain damage and sustain and enhance the positive.
Suppose in the review of a product or service a user exaggerates a negative experience. I happens often, justified or not. Suppose the experience is exaggerated in such a way that it induces others to over emphasize the negative or to look for something negative to say. This, too, happens with great frequency. It is virtual piling on. When bad news arrives, it can be crippling to an organization. Reputation management is about keeping these sorts of negative corporate views under control. (And yet the irony is that without the ability for customers to comment on service and product the company misses an excellent way to grow its business; in other words, viral good is great and viral bad is destructive.)
Reputation management is about protection on the web from negative word of mouth, so to speak. In a specific way reputation management becomes brand management because here the issue has less to do with the company providing the service than with the specific product itself. Reputation management encompasses brand management, and together they constitute a growing internet cottage industry.
Reputation management websites are seemingly everywhere; they are growing in direct response to user forums, greater online customer interaction with product, and ironically these are the result of the product provider inducing the very feedback that can create so many problems in the first place. More and more, companies are asking customers, “how am I doing,” and often are getting answers they do not want to hear, but can’t really control. Ceding control occurs when you ask the question. Control takes place after the fact with reputation management and brand management.
Ideally, though, online reputation management is proactive. It is as much about creating goodwill among customers as it is in managing negativity. With company reputation being paramount, an organization will be engaged constantly in the act of reputation monitoring. That is perhaps the most important act any organization (or service or system) can undertake: watch what is happening and manage the bad quickly and effectively and thus avoid the viral nature of online negativity. Recently there has been a tremendous uprise in sites such as Cheaterville.com, ReportYourEx.com, TheDirty.com and the likes that allow anyone to post nasty, negative comments about anyone.
Reputation management for an internet company may be effected in-house or outsourced to the growing number of companies providing the service. Reputation management is about some entity taking control of the company’s name and reputation and guiding it through the choppy waters of internet user feedback.
Personal Reputation Management is the next article in this series….