Thursday, January 6, 2011

Are You Doing Anything to Build a Good Online Reputation?

When was the last time you Googled your name to see what others were saying about you online? If you haven’t done this in a while, it is a must to determine what others have to say about you or your business. Being aware of your reputation and then taking proactive steps to cultivate it is essential to your success. Even if you find that nothing has been said, this indicates you have a lack of reputation, which is not a good thing. Make 2011 the year you take control of your reputation and take active steps to ensure that when people Google you, only the positives emerge.

Actively Engage in Social Media

This point has been pounded into the ground but it really is that important. You must be proactive and set up a Twitter, Facebook and other profiles, for if you don’t, in time, others will and it most likely will not be complimentary. You really don’t want your Internet presence to be hijacked by someone who, for one reason or another, may harbor a grudge against your company. So, if you have yet to do so, the first step to take is to create social media accounts so you can control the message that’s being communicated online about your company.

Monitor What is Being Said and Respond Thoughtfully

Now that you have entered into the social arena online, it is crucial to actively listen to what is being said and, before responding to any criticism or complaints, to take plenty of time to research what happened and why. You should put twice as much effort into reading and analyzing what is being said as you do into responding to it. By taking ample time to simple “listen” to everything that’s being said, you will be able to determine the underlying issues surrounding a particular problem and come up with a solution that will bode well for the long term.

Analyze Your Weaknesses and Formulate a Plan of Action

Perhaps you have discovered a huge mistake your business recently made (it happens!) and before news gets out about your error, you need to address it online. Don’t ever try to hide anything, for your customers will find out one way or another and it is best if it is from you. By acknowledging your weakness and being upfront, you are establishing yourself as an honest and accountable enterprise that truly cares about its clientele and is willing to admit to its shortcomings. This openness and honesty is key in your being able to build a good reputation and although it may be a bit difficult, it is worth the payoff.

The key takeaway here is you must invest time and effort into building a reputation built on honesty, transparency and accountability. The masses can either sing your praises or they can destroy your brand—it is up to turn the tide in your favor. Your willingness to face customer complaints head-on and not letting stubbornness or pride lead you to make rash decisions are your biggest assets in ensuring your reputation is as good as it can be.

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