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Online Reputation Management, What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Learn how you can be proactive about monitoring your online reputation and repairing any negative information about you and your company.

By:  Lori T. Williams, Owner/Managing Attorney of  Your Legal Resource, PLLC

In a recent lunch and learn presentation, we discussed the legal and technological issues involved in online reputation monitoring, management, and repair.  While use of the internet and social media has been a great way to reach more people through little to no cost, it is also a vehicle for some misguided folks to attempt to ruin reputations, steal identities, and wreak havoc in one’s personal and professional life. The best way to counter this behavior is to be informed of what others are saying about you online, and take the appropriate action to correct any damaging content.

From a legal standpoint, the law is still evolving in this area.  Proving damages is the biggest hurdle in traditional defamation cases, as well as in online defamation cases.   How do you prove the number of potential customers who did not call you because of what they read about you online?  How do you quantify the lost sales from customers with whom you had no track record?   For more information about the legal aspects of reputation attacks and digital defamation, and what you can do to protect yourself, read our next blog featuring attorney Michael Melfi.

There are many practical solutions you can implement to repair your reputation online, short of litigation. Judd Seida is the Owner of Biz Hive and offers a service known as  The Online Body Guard. Seida helps companies with their online marketing, management, and reputation repair needs. Seida notes that “one of the most common mistakes companies make is relying on their own perception of their online reputation.  What really matters is the consumer’s perception of the company.”

According to Google, 82% of people who search for a product or service online, contact the business offline to purchase it.  What they find out about you online can make the difference of whether or not they contact you.

According to Seida, “potential clients and customers are going to place a value on your product or service based on the look of your website, how easy it is to navigate your website, and what other people are saying about you.  The quality of your product or service, the price point or value, and the integrity of your company aren’t part of the initial impression.”

 

When is Reputation Monitoring Useful?

  • When there aren’t any real problems, but you want to know what others are saying about you or the company;
  • As a way to leverage opportunities for expansion and support a company or personal brand with positive content;
  • To increase rankings in major search engines;
  • To increase followers on social media sites;
  • To support other sales and marketing efforts;
  • To increase or take over market share.

 

When is Reputation Repair Necessary?

  • Lawsuits filed;
  • Scandals uncovered;
  • Product defects or recalls initiated;
  • Poor manufacturing standards revealed;
  • Environmental violations noticed;
  • Fraud or Embezzlement charges;
  • Accusations of lieing, cheating, or stealing;
  • Other wrongful conduct exposed.

 

 

Ignoring these things can cause the public to believe the negative information about the company. Companies have a responsibility to clean up the mess, because perception is reality.  Being proactive and addressing the problem through appropriate repair techniques can give the company more credibility in the long run.  Hiding from it, just makes them look guilty.

 

Warning signs of a possible reputation problem: 

  • Negative commentary appears about you or your company online;
  • New business prospects quietly disappear into the arms of your competitors;
  • Existing clientele unexpectedly begin to challenge the value of your services or products;
  • Phone calls, text messages, emails, and other methods of communication go unreturned from trusted resources and contacts.

 

 

“The bottom line is that monitoring your reputation is imperative to maintaining a positive online presence,” says Seida.  ”We had a restaurant client whose business was nearly dead when he contacted us.  He told us he had no website or online presence, yet we found the restaurant listed in 5 review sites with multiple negative comments in each one.  The owner had no idea these comments were out there or that other customers paid attention to them.”

A damaged reputation can cost an individual or company money, jobs, sales, and in some cases their future. In Seida’s experience, “if you don’t know what your customers or clients are saying about you, you WILL lose clients, it’s just a matter of time.

 

 

What should companies monitor?

What to monitor will depend on the industry and company, but Biz Hive suggests these general topics which apply to most companies:

  • Personal names
  • Company names
  • Website names
  • Product names
  • Services
  • Brand names
  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Copy written material
  • Trade secrets
  • Special projects
  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Suppliers
  • Contractors
  • Competitors
  • Key Executives
  • Pricing
  • Variations of your name and the company name
  • Incorrect spellings

 

 

“It’s important to realize that other people are always researching you and/or your company.  You need to control what their experience will be,” says Seida. ”Hate sites, review sites and forums are very common. If you ignore or don’t educate yourself as to what is out there about your company, it will cost you.”

For a free online reputation report about your company from The Online Body Guard, click here.  For additional information shared by Biz Hive at the Lunch and Learn, review this Powerpoint Presentation.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Judd Seida is the CEO of BizHive, which offers reputation management, monitoring, and repair service through their sister company known as  The Online Body Guard.  BizHive works with CEO’s, Judges, celebrities, athletes, and other public figures, as well as law firms and their clients, restaurants, retailers, and other individuals and businesses seeking to establish and maintain a positive image online for themselves and their companies.  Through BizHive and The Online Body Guard, Seida offer social media marketing strategies and analytics, PR management, online advertising, blogs, SEO services, and online reputation monitoring, management, and repair services.

Lori T. Williams is a 23 year attorney based in Birmingham, MI. She owns a legal referral and legal consulting business called Your Legal Resource, PLLC. She assists individuals and small businesses in need of legal advice or representation by connecting them with the right legal specialist for their situation. She also provides consulting services for attorneys and other professional service providers on how to generate more business through effective branding, marketing, networking, and by creating strategic partnerships. For more information, visit www.bestlegalresource.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Mark Schenkel November 13, 2012 at 09:42 PM
If you have Google Analytics on your site, I suggest the InboundLinkAlerts service from embeddedanalytics.com This is a service which sends you an alert if a new link is detected to your site. And these alerts historically are quicker to arrive than standard Google Alerts.
Lori T. Williams November 13, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Thanks for the tip Mark. Since I get my Google Analytics reports weekly, it would definitely be quicker. I know I can change the alert to daily, but I like the weekly summary. My report isn't showing the inbound links, just the number of them. Thanks for reading the article. I hope you found something useful or interesting there too.
Mark Schenkel November 14, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Yes - I am always interested in Reputation Management articles.
Profile Defenders November 14, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Agreed Lori. Online reputation management is one of the most important things that need to be addressed for almost all businesses and individuals today. Our company profile defenders is always informing our hundreds of clients about the risks of not being proactive.

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