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What's in a name? Reputation Management in the Digital Age

By Hector Cisneros
Courtesy of Flickr

Have you ever wondered what people are saying about you? Wish you could be a fly on the wall so that you would know exactly where you stand? If you’re a business, how do you know if your competitors or worse, your customers are posting negative rumors about your company, brand or product? How do you know what consumers are saying about you, your employees and your company in general?

In this article, I will cover many of the digital reputation issues that executives and business have to contend with today. I will provide a list of the types of problems out there, how to monitor your reputation and provide more than a dozen ways you can help improve your reputation.

Here's Where to Start
edna-1217490186542514-8 (Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg)
First, what are the type of problems a business or executive has to contend with? A business has to protect its company name, its brand, its products reputation and make sure that the reputation of its owners; high profile employees aren’t soiled. 

The most common type of issues for businesses are bad reviews! This can be for the company itself, for poor product performance, poor service, no service or poor employee behavior. 

Start with Your Corporate Culture; it's the Ultimate FIX

The best way to make sure you don’t have these kinds of problems is to create a corporate culture of excellence where all your people are focused on fixing problems and not affixing blame. Make sure that you never ever over promise and under deliver. Last but not least, if someone of something fails to perform, just make it right! If an employee or executive fail egregiously you may have to terminate them.

Other Issues to Watch Out For

Courtesy of Pixabay
Along with bad reviews, you can also have issues like confused or mistaken identity, poor online presence relating to an outdated look and feel, poor grammar, or poor functionality. On top of this your best material, webpage’s, blog content, social profiles and other items may just be buried in the online sea of data. 

Good search engine optimization can fix many of these issues and good online marketing can ensure that your positive content is coming to the forefront.

Your Fans, Fakers and Real Haters

It’s common for people who are fans of movies, books and even products to create social media sites and even website to promote their favorite products. However, you must maintain control of your reputation as they may not be doing your company justice and they could accidentally or even on purpose soil your reputation.

It’s also common to have “fake” or spoof accounts created in your name, your products name, brand name or even company name. I often times see in Twitter, accounts that read “TheReal_____”. You can fill in the blank with just about any famous person’s name, for example TheRealNimoy. Beware of these and monitor them for liable content. In many cases, you can get them shut down if they step out of line.

Hater websites are a whole other issue. If you have anger someone so badly that they have gone through the trouble to build, publish and host a website debasing you, you have a big problem. I would be willing to bet that you have a systemic business problem that needs to be fixed. Either way, even if you’re innocent, your only recourse is either to take legal action, (which may not get the hater website pulled) or reconcile with the person you angered.

Your Worst Case Scenario
The WorstCase Scenario Book
The WorstCase Scenario Book (Photo credit: justrandompictures)
The last and worse of all possible reputation issues is Identity Theft. Here you have to be very proactive in protecting yourself. Make sure you shred all documents that have sensitive information like social security numbers, bank/financial accounts, credit card accounts or anything that is tied directly to your name. I suggest you maintain personal protection account like Life Lock for yourself, your executives and high profile employees. These services cannot absolutely guarantee that your identity is safe but they can provide lots of financial resources to help make you whole again.

Received my copy of Online Reputation Manageme...
Received my copy of Online Reputation Management for Dummies by @Lori_randall (Photo credit: ShashiBellamkonda)
Along these same lines, make sure your computers, tablets, and smart phones are adequately protected with top-notch antivirus/malware software like Trend Micro, Advanced System Care or other name brand product. Make sure you have a company privacy and ID policy in place and make sure your employees’ adhere to it.

A Baker's Dozen You Can Use to Protect your Reputation

What can you do to protect yourself, and your company’s name, brand products and employees from a soiled reputation. Here is a baker’s dozen of ways to keep your reputation shiny and clean with a positive air for all to see.

  1. Create a corporate culture that is customer focused. Promote honesty and integrity. Fix problems instead of placing blame. Never, ever over promise or under deliver.
  2. Proactively be your own advocate. Monitor your reputation by regularly engaging in reputation searches. 
  3. Purchase Life Lock or other ID protection service for yourself, your executives and your high profile employees.
  4. Make sure your contact information you list is correct, consistent and readily available. Too many companies today try and hide behind an “email wall”! Make sure you have a real address, phone number and even a map on how to find you.
  5. Help others with their good reputation. This will make it more likely that they will help you with yours.
  6. Create a profile for every product or service you have and make sure that you provide a consistent brand look and feel.
  7. Proactively make sure you have a full spread of social net profiles in place that correctly list your contact information and tell your story accurately. The top social nets to be include are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn (at a minimum).
  8. Actively recruit and reward those who provide you with testimonials, positive reviews and positive digital word of mouth via social media.
  9. If you, your company or your product ever fails to perform as promised make sure you make the issue go away by making it right as quickly as possible.
  10. Make sure that all web properties have proper search engine optimization for keyword, company name and brand.
  11.  Make sure you have created adequate back links between your website/s, social nets, blogs and any other web profiles that exist.
  12.  Create and promote positive digital and conventional PR for your business, your brand and even your executives' names.
  13.  Listen to what people are saying about your company. Don’t be afraid to ask people, vendors and consumer to be candid with you. Send out anonymous service at least once a year.

Float satirizing FEMA after the Hurricane Katr...
Float satirizing FEMA after the Hurricane Katrina disasters. Spanish Town parade, Mardi Gras in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One last thought. If you can't fix your bad reputation because there is just too much bad press, create a new company name, new website, social profile and brand. Basically, you will have to start from scratch to create a new reputation. This time however, follow my suggestions.

In this article I outlined the most common reputation management problems business face today. They cover the gamut from poor reviews to ID theft. I have included many steps you can take to discover and isolate these issues. More importantly, I have provided more than a dozen ways that will help you manage your digital reputations for both your top people and your company’s primary assets.

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Hector Cisneros is COO and director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web To Win" on, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.”

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  1. muy interesante, gracias para su articulo, bien escrito

    I hope you know what I said, always best to know more than one language,

    1. Muchas gracias, agradezco los comentarios, en cualquier idioma. I can read spanish fairly well, but I can also rely on google translate for help if need be. Thank again.