We’re all familiar with the saying “You can’t fight bad publicity.” It’s a phrase that basically means, ‘what you do is irrelevant, people will think what they want to think about you.’ The problem? That’s not always true.
The truth is, there are plenty of people out there who will try to sabotage you without remorse.
You know them as trolls and bullies – or maybe just customers who have nothing better to do than slam your company online for fun. And it’s up to you (and everyone on your team) how much time and energy you spend fighting back against these attacks. But it also makes sense for any business owner or manager to at least learn 15 simple rules for managing their reputation online!
Rule #1 – don’t ignore your online reputation
You’d be surprised how many businesses out there think they have a good handle on their online reputation. But if you’ve never looked into it, there’s probably some pretty nasty stuff out there about you and your company. And the truth is, very few people are going to take the time to actually verify that what they read is true or not. So if you ignore your online reputation, you’re saying that what people read about you is probably true!
Rule #2 – always act like a professional
Sure, your customers can be complete jerks sometimes. But it’s still up to YOU as the manager or owner of the company to keep things professional whenever possible. This means not engaging in flame wars, using profanity, or any other behaviors that just make you look unprofessional. Even if some customers are out to get you, the last thing you want to do is give them material that they can use against your company!
Rule #3 – don’t let personal issues blindside you!
Believe it or not, some trolls are actually people you know. Maybe someone from your past is looking for revenge, or maybe just wants to damage your standing in the community and make yourself look better. Either way, it can blindside you – especially if this person has a history of being really nice or friendly…
Rule #4 – contribute to communities
Remember that old phrase about shooting yourself in the foot? Well, that’s basically what you’re going to do if you start posting negative comments on blogs, forums, or social websites – especially if your comments are all about how YOU screwed up! It can be really hard not to respond when someone slams your company online. But it’s 100% guaranteed to come back and bite you at some point!
Rule #5 – Google yourself (and see what comes up!)
This is a really simple step, but it’s easy to forget. Search for your company on Google (and other search engines) and take a look at what turns up. You might be surprised by how many bad reviews, complaints, and stories about your company are out there! (And remember, just a few bad reviews can really affect how potential customers see your business!)
Rule #6 – watch what you share
We’re always trying to play up the fact that we’re on Facebook or Twitter or whatever. But it should go without saying that you should never post anything remotely controversial, inappropriate, or otherwise bad for your business!
Rule #7 – learn how to spot red flags in online reviews
If there’s one thing you can count on from trolls and bullies, it’s that they’re going to slam you. But if you know what to look for (and where), then you can weed through the bad reviews and find the ones that actually have something valuable to say. Just remember, Google owns a website called “Google Places” now where anyone can leave a review for your business! So if you see anything there that doesn’t look right, you better take action quickly!
Rule #8 – never underestimate what people will do
Some trolls get a thrill out of making others miserable. And if they can do it to you, then all the better! So don’t assume that some people won’t stoop to your level just because YOU happen to be a decent person. Just keep in mind at all times that there are probably people out there who would love nothing more than to shut you down and ruin your business!
Rule #9 – don’t let what people say about you interfere with buying decisions
A potential customer may have stumbled across a really bad review of your company. And sure, it’d be nice to go in and bury that comment or give some reason why it’s false. But if you’re trying to sell them something, then they’re going to make their purchase decision based on how you treat them and what you say – not someone else!
Rule #10 – don’t get too caught up in online comments (positive or negative!)
It can be great getting all kinds of praise about your business. And if anyone tries to put that down, it’s your job to set them straight and defend your company. But you have to remember that many people will use your online presence as a way to complain about something – even if it’s not related to your business at all!
Rule #11 – don’t overreact
We’ve all been there. We see that one bad review or hear the one person who’s complained. And while we want to do something about it (quickly!), you mustn’t get too emotional or let your anger take over. Because if you do, then people will be quick to pounce on your company and exploit the situation!
Rule #12 – watch what happens when someone posts something bad
This is another one that might seem obvious, but it’s really easy to overlook. If someone posts a bad comment (or pretty much anything online), then monitor what happens next! See how long it takes for other people to chime in and give their opinions about your company. And if you find that there are some people out there brainwashing other potential customers, then make sure you do your best to put a stop to it!
Rule #13 – try to maintain some sense of privacy online
It’s never going to be possible for every single person in the world to know about your company. Spare yourself the humiliation and just assume that there are times when you’re better off keeping your mouth shut. If you’re not quite sure why this might be, then go on Twitter and look up the word “creepy” in a hashtag – that should give you an idea of what we’re talking about here!
Rule #14 – never underestimate the power of (online) word-of-mouth
If there’s one thing we can all be sure of, it’s that word-of-mouth matters. No matter what happens on the internet with your company, there’ll always be someone in their circle of friends who cares about what you do. And if you get a few good reviews going to start things off, then rest assured that your reputation will eventually snowball and become a positive thing.
Rule #15 – don’t assume that Google will protect you
When it comes to online safety, Google is always on top of things. Their robot army keeps the internet safe from spam and they go after hackers to keep your information secure. But as with everything else, there are plenty of people out there who are waiting to exploit your business and leave a bad taste in your customers’ mouths. And while Google can (and will) do what it takes to stop them, you’re always going to have a better handle on things if you’re keeping an eye out for trouble!
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of how much work it takes to keep track of your online reputation. And the fact is, you really can’t let anything slip through the cracks. If you’ve got a social media presence or run any part of your business online, then there are going to be plenty of opportunities for people out there to make things worse for you and your company!
Alignment Online Marketing provides online reputation management services to small and medium businesses around the world. Contact us today so we can help you prevent negative comments from spoiling your brand!