Online Reputation Management is Important
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- Written on: February 5th, 2009
Online reputation management is more than having a website about what you do. Potential employers, business partners, investors, or even the girl you meet at the bar can learn everything about you with a simple Google search.
Anyone can write anything about you on the Internet, so its important to know what is being said and how you can enter the discussion in a tactful way that furthers your goals. The online information about you or your company paints a public portrait of who you are and what you represent.
Here are some examples of situations my clients have experienced in the past, mistakes they made, and what you can do if you find yourself in similar situations. Have you ever had to deal with any of these common online reputation missteps:
The Angry Blogger
If you do anything of consequence, someone will blog about you at some point. The odds are that at least some bloggers will find you, your company, or something you have created or done distasteful in some way.
For example, about a year ago I had a negative experience with Overnight Prints that motivated me to cut a video and make a post about their service. My bad experience was far from unique, so people come to that post to share their bad experiences as well. To this day my complaint video about Overnight Prints ranks in the top 5 for their name and my blog post ranks in the top 10 for Overnight Prints Complaint. To this day people continue to comment on that post.
If you are on the receiving end of a negative blog post there are a few things you should remember to do:
- Never, ever, comment on the post. It lends credibility to the post. No matter what is said, don’t leave a comment.
- Do not email the blogger with any email of length. In fact, ask for a phone number so you can call the blogger. Bloggers tend to publish emails.
- Don’t ask a blogger to take a post down. They won’t in most cases. Ask the blogger to add an UPDATE to the post
- If you have a particularly nasty situation, hire someone else to act on your behalf. You will get a LOT further that way.
The Complaint Website
The internet is full of anonymous haters, and these people love to congregate on websites like www.complaintsboard.com. The law protects the owners of these websites by saying they are not responsible for the content that their users post. Don’t waste time or energy threatening the owners of these sites.
I have helped clients in the past with a complaintsboard problem, and I can tell you from first hand experience that the owner of that website is a fair minded person who will help you if you ask nicely and show documentation.
If you ever have a negative post on a complaint website here are some dos and dont’s:
- Never post a response to the complaint website. It adds content to their page and also reinforces that this is a way for disgruntled customers to get your attention.
- Work within the framework of the system. Send private messages to the complainer that is 100% POSITIVE and offer to help. Remember that the poster may copy and paste your private message back to the public side.
- AFTER you have tried working within the website’s system, email the owner of the site with a removal request and provide DETAILED documentation of your efforts to resolve the situation
- If the post was made by a real customer, reach out with a phone call and try to solve the situation that lead to the post. THEN ask the customer to remove the post.
In some radical situations, an upset customer or competitor may launch a website dedicated to providing a singular place where all of your disgruntled customers can congregate and build a community. This is very rare, but can be extremely damaging to your online reputation if it happens.
For example, the website Radio Shack Sucks was only partially silenced after a massive legal effort by the electronics retailer. If the Shack couldn’t shut down a negative website, the chances are you won’t be successful either.
These situations represent the worst case scenario. If you find yourself in this kind of a bind, you have some limited options:
- Immediately sue the owner of the website. Don’t email, don’t warn, just do it. Let the first thing they see be the Sheriff at their door at 7 AM with papers.
- Print everything on the website in case it goes away. You will need this later.
- If the owner of the website tries to contact you, document the contact and refer the owner to your lawyer.
Great Tools for Online Reputation Management
Like most things in life, online reputation management is about relationships and not about actions.
A phone call from someone who knows how online relationships work can be a lot different in a situation than a phone call from one of my clients. That is why they pay me to do it.
But you have to know you have a problem before you can remedy it, and the more quickly you know about a problem the easier it is to handle it. Here are some basic tools you can use as a first line of defense to automatically monitor what is being said about you online.
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