Online reputation management is a critical task for any company. The web is a world-wide conversation site whether your business has a strong internet presence or not.  The internet has made it possible for consumers and competitors to converse openly about opinions and experiences with companies, whether positive or negative.  With the prominence of review sites out there such as Yelp and CitySearch and Ripoff Report, in addition to social media sites, it is important to always be aware of any talk about your company.  Here are five essential steps to help ensure sure that your company reputation is the best it can be!

  1. Be prepared for and aware of risks.  All companies should consider how to avoid and respond to any internet dialogue that has the potential to damage the company brand. Developing a crisis plan and being prepared in advance is critical for fast and effective online reputation management.
  2. Track and monitor your brand.  Have you ever Googled yourself out of curiosity?  If you have not done so with your company, it’s time.  Frequent monitoring of your brand is essential, as new content is placed on the internet daily.  One easy way to do this is to create Google Alerts which will send you email updates of the latest internet mentions of your company based on the search terms you provide.  Regularly searching for keywords that relate to your company, your competitors and your industry is another easy way to monitor your brand and business space
  3. Register domains and IDs.  Protect your brand for the future by registering your company name on new sites in case they become popular later.  If you search for your name on Twitter or Facebook, it is likely you will find many other people out there with the same name: same goes for your company.  By spending a few minutes and a few extra dollars to register domains and IDs, your company won’t be hit by roadblocks in the future
  4. Create proactive content. Acting proactively is an important part of any reputation strategy as you plan positive messages, articles, press releases, etc. to insure you have a constant flow of content for your audience.  Sharing your company’s stories and ideas across various types of media outlets will help get your name out there and let consumers know that you are real people with real and valuable ideas
  5. Remove negative content. In the case that negative content gets out about your brand, there are several ways to get rid of or bury the bad news.  If you are in control of content that you don’t want others to see such as on Facebook, Twitter or a blog, simply delete the negative content or change your privacy settings.  If negative content is on a site that you do not control, review the sites Terms or Content Policies and politely ask the owner of the site to remove the content if it is in violation.  And by creating new, positive content on high-ranking sites, your search results will show the positive over the negative.

Do you or your company follow any of these guidelines to protect your online reputation?  What’s worked (or hasn’t worked) for you?  Let us know in the comments section.