Reputation Repair on the Internet
When you start a new business its reputation is clean and pristine, as smooth and glittering as an undisturbed snowfall. But just like a serene, calm snowfall all it takes is for one person to trudge across the scenery and completely ruin the picture perfect scene. Most customers who work with a company that has a five-star review will rarely hesitate to make use of that business. But once negative comments start to pop up people get wary, and become more likely to leave negative comments of their own. It could be due to something that was not even your fault. Maybe a package that you sent to someone was severely banged up by the shipping service you used. You may have had nothing to directly do with that but you can bet that most customers are going to come to you when they get angry about their damaged goods. People grumbling about a company used to not be a big deal, but on the Internet anything that is posted is there forever. Potential customers can see that negative information and decide to go to a competitor, even if it is some out-of-date review about a minor incident that happened years ago. Anyone on the Internet who has a bone to pick with you can easily do so, for all to see.
To protect your business and yourself, start by doing a search engine inquiry with your business name(reputation). You should do this using a private or incognito mode on a web browser so that your personal preferences do not skewer the search results you see. Generally you want to focus on the first ten results, the first search engine page, which comes up for your inquiry. Most people rarely go past the first page when looking at something on a search engine so those first ten pages should be your primary concern. If all of those results are positive, great; you should not really have anything to worry about. If the results are less than great, you could have some problems and will need to do a bit of damage control before those little issues snowball into something bigger.
If you are a brand new business, there are a few things you can do to avoid negative publicity before you really get things going. Create profiles for your business on popular social media websites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) and keep those profiles updated frequently with relevant information. No one wants to try looking up your business and see that your latest posted information is a month old. Creating videos, such as How-To videos, and putting them on YouTube also generates a positive public image. You can also monitor relevant forums and see what people are saying about your organization. Creating Google Alerts for your company and its products is another good way to keep on top of things.
When your reputation is already being damaged, you need to make amends quickly. People are very quick to point the finger and very slow to accept an apology. On that note, apologize. If you do something wrong, apologize. The power of an apology cannot be stressed enough. Very few people possess the ability to sincerely say, “I was wrong,” and hearing someone else say it always gets the public’s attention. Only apologize if you really are sincere though; coming off as defensive or dishonest will just upset people even more. Along with apologizing, you need to explain what happened to the public. Make them aware of the chain of events that led up to whatever negativity they are upset about so that they can get a better understanding of what happened. Throughout all this, you need to be in control of what is being said. The worst thing you can do is say nothing and leave the public and potentially the media to wild speculation. If you do not speak they will put words in your mouth and you will not like what they make you say.