As our environment becomes increasingly virtual, the online reputation of an individual, a company, or a global brand becomes ever more important to protect. For many, maintaining a good reputation means offering great customer service, producing a quality product, and doing damage control when negative press turns up, but by the time a negative review is out there, it could be too late.
Ben Franklin was once quoted as saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and that’s never been more applicable than when it comes to managing a brand. No matter what industry your business falls into, the Internet can make or break your status. Whether you like it or not, your online persona will define you on a global level and can enormously impact sales.
So, how can you protect your business and ensure that your brand’s image stays untarnished? Read on for three ways to proactively protect your brand and stay competitive in today’s fast-paced market.
1. Buy any domain names that could be mistaken for your company
Ideally, you should own yourname.com as well as up to 10 modifications to avoid an unhappy customer or a mean-spirited competitor sabotaging your business with negative information. When you’re in control of the domain names close to your own, you can decide how you want to proceed. If the site is in the wrong hands however, it can spell disaster for your online reputation.
2. Set up Google alerts for your name, your company, and any key words or phrases you want to monitor
It might help to set up an alert for competitors so you can see where your company is falling short. Just go to http://www.google.com/alerts and enter the search query you wish to see. You can choose how often you receive updates from Google but once a day is probably sufficient to stay on top of things.
3. Monitor the popular review sites like Yelp, Complaints Board, Ripoff Report, and Scam.com to make sure your business doesn’t show up under a basic search.
If you do see negative press, follow up. Respond to a dissatisfied customer directly and ask them if they will remove the damaging review if you’re able to solve their problem and improve their experience with your company. Some popular companies, like the financial training firm Online Trading Academy, face fierce competition from rival businesses that deliberately try to hurt sales. While it can be difficult to completely remove a negative review from the web, it’s certainly better for your brand if you’re immediately made aware of bad press and you remove it as soon as possible. The shorter the amount time it spends online, the harder it is to dig up down the line.
Whether your brand is worth $5 or $5 billion, if it’s important to you, it’s worth protecting. Today, we rely on social media and review sites like never before. You might feel like your business is safe, but no company is truly impervious to the potential damage inflicted by Internet trolls. So, put in the energy to protect your business upfront and maintain a positive online image. After all, it’s easier to prevent negative reviews from making the rounds than it is to undo the damage. Put in the effort necessary to proactively protect your brand – you won’t regret it.