Once upon a time, customer complaints could be kept private. A negative review might have had limited impact if any at all.
That was before the Internet came along. Now, we live in a frightening world where one unhappy individual could bring down a world of pain for your business or professional career.
Enter online reputation management, a kind of safeguard for your sanity. Whether you are an individual wanting to ensure that your good name remains unsullied, or you are a business owner who needs to protect your brand's image, reputation management is highly important.
But, not everyone understands it. The concept, it seems, is shrouded in myth and misconceptions.
Well, it’s time to bust those myths and clear up those misconceptions, a few of them at least. Here are four of the most commonly held beliefs about online reputation management that are in fact false.
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You Have No Control Over Your Online Reputation
Anyone can write a bad review about your business online. Anyone can post defamatory content about you as an individual. In other words, at any moment, someone else has the power to ruin your reputation. It is no wonder that some people have resigned to the notion that they have no control.
While you can’t control what others publish, you can control the impact it has on your business and professional life. How you react to negative information plays a crucial role in the maintenance of your good status.
A 2012 TripAdvisor/Phocuswright survey shows that 79 percent of consumers were reassured by hotel listing reviews that showed an appropriate response from a hotel’s management team. Listing with negative reviews and no “appropriate” response from management were considered off-putting.
With that in mind, it is a good idea to take a proactive approach to online reputation management. Take control of your reputation and address negative content. If you hold to the notion that you have no control, then you are likely to ignore potentially harmful reviews.
You Can’t Erase Anything Online
One strongly held belief is that once information is published online, it cannot be removed. There is a good reason why this myth is so prevalent: because it is extremely difficult to remove information from the internet once it is published.
With that said, removal of information from the internet can be achieved. If, for example, the information is false, personal (i.e. home address, etc.), or illegal, then you stand a chance of having it wiped from sight. If your reasons are simply because the content offends you and/or tarnishes your reputation, then you might have a tough time getting it removed.
Related Article: Reputation Management 101: How to Ensure People Love Your Business
Probably the most effective way to clean up false, personal, or illegal information from your online profile is to reach out to the publisher. Now, the publisher might not be the same as the webmaster, as is the case with user submitted reviews on sites like TripAdvisor. But if you can get the contact details of the aggrieved content poster, you can attempt to handle things privately and arrange to have the negative content removed or changed.
If you cannot get the contact details of the person leaving the reputation-damaging content, you can try taking matters to the managers of the website. If they are not willing to corporate, then your final option is to put in a request to the search engines (read Google) to have the information removed.
If you've tried everything and still can't get a piece of unwanted information removed, consider talking to a specialist. Believe it or not, there's an entire industry dedicated to getting things off the web. You can learn more about content content removal services here.
Removing Bad Reviews Will Fix Everything
Bad reviews are a stinging blow to your ego and possibly your livelihood. But, running around trying to remove everything negative from the internet is not the solution. In the first instance, your efforts might well be futile. But, more importantly, you might end up neglecting the underlying issues.
Addressing the cause of the negative feedback is more beneficial for your long-term online reputation.
If you’re in business, can you identify any issues with your customer service? Does your product meet customer expectations? If you are an individual, you might simply need to change the way you interact with your clients.
Whatever the reason for the bad reviews, instead of spending all your effort trying to erase them, fix the problem at source.
Reputation Management Is Time Consuming
Online reputation management can seem like a daunting task. Monitoring your information and suppressing negative content has the potential to consume your every waking hour. That might be true for large organizations, who need to keep an eye on things 24/7, it is not true for small businesses and individuals, though.
For the average individual and small business, a few hours work per month will be enough. Some basic monitoring tools will save you time and allow you to build your reputation steadily each month while being alerted to anything that is potentially harmful.
It is not easy maintaining a squeaky clean status. Online reputation management is important, and it requires ongoing effort. For most, a few hours per month is enough to ensure that negative reviews are dealt with appropriately, that untrue or illegal information is wiped out, and that when someone searches for your name or brand, they find what you want them to find.