Online damage to your reputation can occur in two forms – personal and business. It is crucial to learn reputation management basics before negative information is posted online about you, your family or your business.
Reputation management services work to not only find and remove bad press about someone. They also put out positive information on you or your business to improve your current reputation.
Since most people Google or do other online research on people or businesses, knowing that the internet is publishing glowing reports about you helps build trust and credibility.
Read on to learn more about reputation management basics and what you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your finances.
Examples of Reputation Damage
You don’t have to search long to find examples of major corporations that suffered reputation damage due to bad business practices or horrible employee behavior.
Wells Fargo Bank found out the hard way how you can lose a lot of customers when negative info appears online. This happened when they allegedly created fake customer accounts and modified mortgages without their customer’s consent.
Uber also had to do some fast footwork to overcome negative press when claims of sexual harassment from one female engineer snowballed into 56 additional claims of sexual harassment, resulting in a $1.9 million settlement.
When you think about it, owning a small community business can turn into a catastrophe in a short time. One customer who feels slighted can unleash a flood of bad reviews that can be difficult to overcome.
There are hundreds of reputation damage reports that hit the headlines. But, there are thousands more that none of us will ever see. Regular people suffer innocently when someone sets out to use the internet to destroy their reputation.
And, there are many others who admit to making a mistake, like having a relationship outside their marriage. And a disgruntled ex-partner can use any number of cheater websites to humiliate and destroy a person fast.
What is reputation management?
You may have heard of image branding when it comes to corporations. That’s how companies specifically market themselves the way they want customers to see them. People also have an image that they want the public to see.
Our personal image is a combination of many factors. This includes our personality, our jobs, the house we live in, our friends, and the things we enjoy doing.
Damage to your business or personal reputation can happen when something happens or is done outside your normal image.
Next, the situation goes viral. And your circle of family and friends catch wind of the situation, followed by our coworkers, boss, friends, or customers.
Bad news spreads fast on the internet. And it often takes an expert in reputation management to stop the spiral and remove the bad information.
What does reputation management involve?
Reputation management involves two different factors:
- Restoring a good reputation damaged by a personal or business misstep
- Managing your online reputation to prevent bad press or gossip from surfacing
The right reputation management service provider has a proven, step-by-step process to help restore people’s reputation, no matter the rumors.
These include the following reputation-damaging events:
- Being arrested and having a mugshot taken
- Taking and/or sending sexually explicit photos
- Posting sensitive information on social media
- Stating an opinion that is not widely accepted
- Lying about the facts of your life
- Getting drunk along with bad behavior
- Cheating while in a relationship
- Selling a bad product or service
- Serving bad food that makes customers ill
Importance of Reputation Management
Your personal reputation is directly connected to our ability to lead a productive life. When negative content surfaces online, it can cause extreme discomfort and the fear that your life is ruined.
Sadly, many people have considered self-harm simply because of bad press and negative criticism they received online.
When it comes to the reputation of a business, it can mean the difference between success and crisis. A person’s entire livelihood may at stake if their business closes or partners choose to bow out of a deal.
In the past, reputation damage happened due to community-spread. Without the internet, a business could withstand the temporary negativity press.
Because of the internet and the ability to send information so fast, reputation management takes on new relevance and immediate importance.
A single person can start a negative campaign that can cause major damage, which can have major and long-lasting ramifications.
Companies, colleges, financial institutions, churches, and many membership-type businesses search you online before they decide to hire, admit, or do business.
If you’re not 100% sure of what’s being said about you online, consider a reputation management service to find out and clean up any negative or damaging information.
Personal Reputation Management Basics
When it comes to personal reputation management basics, it starts by taking an inventory of exactly what’s going on (good and bad).
Why? Because cleaning up your online reputation demands erasing or suppressing bad online information. It also includes flooding the internet with the good qualities and achievements that you possess.
The problem with doing this yourself is that most people don’t know where to look to find bad personal information about them, and they don’t dig deep enough. The world-wide-web is immense.
And, it includes places that decent people will never visit – the dark web.
But what if the online info isn’t true?
Sometimes the internet is a true reflection of reality, and other times it is only smoke and mirrors.
So, you need to look at any negative behaviors you can prevent – those who would seek to harm you, your family, or your business.
- Remember, extra-marital affairs, treating your employees badly, driving under the influence, or selling bad services or products are some examples of behaviors that can continue to cause damage to your reputation.
- Make a point to set up all internet privacy controls, especially on information that can harm you.
- Make sure your passwords are complex and changed on a regular basis.
- Only handle your personal financial information on your own trusted devices.
- Do not keep compromising images on your computer or smartphone.
- Watch what you say and post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
The best way to remember how easily your reputation can be damaged is to be aware of this piece of knowledge: anyone who knows your name, can Google your name – and anyone with an ax to grind can exploit the internet to your disadvantage.
After taking inventory of the big issues that can ruin your reputation, look at those things that we sometimes do without even thinking.
Little mistakes that affect personal reputation
- Avoid gossiping with colleagues or friends, especially through emails or social media accounts.
- Don’t allow someone to use your personal computer without protecting private images and information.
- In the small moments when we’re under stress, a negative word to someone can start an avalanche of revenge.
- White lies that we think are harmless can be the foundation for a larger defamation campaign against us.
- Sloppiness about our love life, home life, or personal activities – keep tabs on who knows what about you.
Reputation Management for Business Owners
Today, businesses depend on word-of-mouth advertising, good online reviews, repeat customers, and referrals. A single bad business decision can cause everything you’ve worked for to come tumbling down.
If customers criticize services online, it can cause a ripple effect on your reputation.
Here are statistics to think about that show just how much customer opinion matters and how negative press and bad online reviews can cause a major loss in your customer base:
- Only 13% of potential consumers will consider using a business that has a 1 or 2-star rating.
- 4 out of 5 customers change their minds about a purchase after reading negative online reviews.
- Malicious or fake reviews can negatively impact the credibility of your business by reporting bad service where there is none.
- 92% of B2B buyers are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review.
How do reviews affect your brand?
The thing about service and product reviews (and human nature) is that often a small incident becomes slightly exaggerated, then snowballs into an avalanche. The unfortunate fact is that once a negative review campaign is started against a business, it is extremely difficult to stop.
For business owners, negative reviews and bad press are most commonly posted on the following:
- Yelp or Yellow Pages
- BBB (Better Business Bureau)
- Business website customer reviews
- Google My Business
Partner with a professional that knows how to put reputation management basics to work for you and your company.
This includes searching out and finding bad information about your company. It also covers burying the bad reviews and negative info deep in the back pages of the internet.
For more information, contact our Reputation Management experts today.